by Lucas Zinner, Project Partner


The MARDS project deals with one of the most acute problems in the Montenegrin and Albanian educational system, the doctoral studies. Its main objective is to contribute significantly to the reformation of doctoral studies in accordance with the Salzburg principles and to establish sustainable and modern joint pilot doctoral schools between two friendly neighboring partner countries, which will serve as an example of "good practice" for the Western Balkan region. In the medium to long term, the MARDS project contributes to building, improving and continuously expanding sustainable capacities in the field of doctoral studies in the two countries, Montenegro and Albania. In order to achieve this, the relevant ministries of both countries are part of the consortium in addition to academic partners.


Montenegro has a 42-year tradition of doctoral studies, which is mainly connected with the only state university in Montenegro. They were mostly organized in the university units (faculties). A first Center for Doctoral Studies was founded in 2015 with the aim of regulating and promoting doctoral education based on the Salzburg principles. The still small number of doctoral students is striking. On average, about 45 students are enrolled, distributed among 12 faculties. This makes it difficult to achieve the critical mass necessary for cohort formation and the development of a peer culture. The system of doctoral training in Albania has gone through several phases of ups and downs since the 1990s. The system has suffered both from inadequate quality assurance measures and from the departure of many young scientists who continued their careers abroad. At present, for the last 5 years, the situation has been frozen and in most cases there are no real doctoral programs that can meet international standards. This has serious negative effects on the Albanian universities, on the research output and on the business location in Albania. All in all, the current situation with regard to doctoral studies is similar in both countries. Specific challenges are
  1. Insufficient number of doctoral students,
  2. insufficient funding of research,
  3. inadequate infrastructure (laboratories, libraries, centers) and poor working conditions
  4. insufficient number of highly qualified supervisors,
  5. lack of recognition of doctorates outside the university,
  6. insufficient connections to industry,
All this results in the desire of good students to do their doctorate abroad and leads to brain train.

Specific objectives

To address the above-mentioned challenges, the MARDS projects have defined the following objectives:

  1. to reconsider the existing national policies/standards for doctoral studies in two countries and their compatibility with good EU practices,
  2. to develop and propose a new model of doctoral studies in two countries, adapted to the acquired experiences over past decades and current and future countries’ needs
  3. to propose a sustainable method of financing doctoral studies in two countries on national levels.
  4. to establish two sustainable doctoral schools in selected fields (one in Montenegro and one in Albania) as recommendable examples for Western Balkan  
  5. to establish a sustainable cooperation with EU partners and established Doctoral Schools in order to maintain developed education and research standards.