12.5 SUPPORT MEASURES FOR LEARNERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
•1 Definition of target groups
Current higher education policies (Law on Higher Education 2018, university statutes) and student standard measures recognize the following categories of disadvantaged learners and learners in need of additional support:
- Socially deprived students;
- Roma students;
- Student without parents;
- Blind, deaf and second-degree disabled students;
- Mothers with children up to the age of six;
- Students that are hospitalized;
Students of all levels of higher education who are without parents, blind, deaf, first and second degree disabled, mothers with children up to the age of six and those hospitalized have the right to special benefits provided by the Statute of the higher education institution.
The Law on Higher Education 2018 recognizes the following categories of students to be exempted from co-financing by the public higher education institutions: unemployed persons without parents up to the age of 26; persons with level I and II disability; disabled war/Army veterans; unemployed persons raised in foster care homes for abandoned children up to the age of 26; members of the security forces’ families and other persons. These students are enrolled in a special quota and their number should not exceed 10% of the number of the fulltime students in the program of study.
•2 Specific support measures
All higher education institutions have office of student services (studentski prasanja) that assists students with all administrative issues related to admission, ECTS credits, registration of semester and of the academic year, tuition fee payment, issuing of transcript of grades, degrees, diploma supplements etc.);
Language support: The universities that attract foreign students offer preparatory courses in Macedonian language for their first-year foreign students and/or for the foreign students spending a semester or a year at the university through Erasmus +Program (incoming mobility students). This is the case with both, public and private universities (e.g. the public University “St. Apostol Pavle in Ohrid”, the private International Balkan University that attracts Turkish students, etc.). The Faculty of Philology at the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, Skopje has a Center for testing and certification of the Macedonian language as a foreign / second language - CETIS MAK that provide preparatory courses and testing, issuing certificate for Macedonian language proficiency. The Language Center at the multilingual-English, Albanian and Macedonian, South-East European University (SEEU) at Tetovo provides language services, meets the educational needs of the students, staff and the community as well as promotes a multilingual approach to learning, stressing both the importance of local and international languages.
Different categories of students are entitled to different type of state scholarship support (see section 3.2. Higher education funding / 5. Financial support for learners). The open calls can be found at the web site /Students Support Portal of the Ministry of Education and Science of North Macedonia (2020) https://konkursi.mon.gov.mk/?lang=mk;
Higher education institutions have accessible ramps for students with physical disabilities, but no other special accommodations. Besides discussions for possible extension of the newly introduced policy & supporting measures of education/personal assistants for disabled primary school students to all persons with disabilities, students with disabilities enrolled in higher education institutions mainly lack the necessary didactic material, braille books, magnifying glasses, sign language interpreters, and assistive technology. Initial efforts for inclusive higher education have been made at the Faculty of Philosophy, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodious” Skopje in providing assistive technology equipment and developing a new MUDL platform adapted for e-leaning of disabled students. For the first time in the country, the student magazine of the Faculty Student Assembly at the Faculty of Philosophy from Skopje "Inner Traveler" began to be published in Braille (Nos. XXI and XXII in 2019), as well as in a special font for people with dyslexia (DyslexcFZF).
The Government decides and the public higher education Institutions schedule an additional quota of 10% of the total number of students enrolled in the first year at the level of unit for admission of minority students, i.e. for students who belong to the non-majority ethnic communities in the country (Bosnians, Turks, Vlachs, Serbs, Roma) to ensure their equal representation and increase their university enrolment.
Students who leave outside the place of studying are entitled to the subsidized student dormitory accommodation, food and healthcare. 40% of the total number of available places at student dormitories are intended to students whose total family income is up to the net minimum wage salary in the country and for whom the total family income is above the net minimum wage in the country, i.e. for children without parents and parental care; children with special needs; children of beneficiaries of social financial assistance and permanent financial assistance; children of a single parent; children of unemployed parents and children of beneficiaries of termination of employment for business reasons.
In order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on students standard and wellbeing, the Government/Ministry of Education and Science, in June, 2020 adopted a Decree with legal force for covering part of the costs for studying and part of the accommodation costs for student dorm and for private accommodation (Уредба со законска сила за плаќање на дел од партиципацијата во трошоците за студирање за студенти, партиципација за сместување во студентски дом и партиципација на трошоците за приватно сместување). This measure provided the state funded students coming from low-income family households with one-off, supplemental support in the amount of 6,000 MKD (≈100 EUR) to cover studying costs, co-payment for accommodation in a dormitory (for those studying outside the place of residence and who have been accepted/gained placement at student dorm) and co-payment for accommodation in a private accommodation (for those studding outside of place of residence and not living at student dormitory/didn’t gained placement at the student dorm due to the health protocols and decreased number of students ).
Based on the Government Decree as of 13th of June, 2020 with legal force for issuing vouchers for young people (including university students) for digital skills training to improve their competitiveness on the labor market during a state of emergency (Уредба со законска сила за издавање на ваучери на млади лица за обуки за дигитални вештини заради подобрување на нивната конкурентност на пазарот на трудот за време на вонредна состојба), vouchers for digital skills training were awarded to young people up to the age of 29 with at least secondary school attainment. The vouchers were intended to cover up to the 50 % of the training costs in the amount of maximum 30,000 MKD (≈ 500 EUR).