23.11.2016

Conference “National Policy Dialogue in the Field of Social Sciences in the Republic of Serbia 2014-2016” held in Belgrade, Serbia


On 25 October 2016, the Institute of Economic Sciences – RRPP Local Coordination Unit in Serbia organised a conference National Dialogue in the Field of Social Sciences in the Republic of Serbia 2014-2016. The event is organised within the National Policy Dialogue in Serbia 2014-2016 at the Belgrade Media Center. It served as an opportunity to present the impact of the RRPP in general and notably the outcomes of the National Policy Dialogue in Serbia.

It brought together more than fifty researchers, representatives of the universities, research institutes, non-governmental and international organizations, as well as policymakers. Two separate panel discussions have been organised, focusing on the two main issues tackled within the project – collaboration between the researchers and policymakers, and the status of young researchers in Serbia.

Research and Policy-making

Senior advisor Prof Ivan Stosic held the opening session. The State Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technological Development, Mr Vladimir Popovic and the RRPP Programme Manager, Ms Jasmina Opardija-Susnjar welcomed participants at the beginning of the event. Mr Popovic stressed the importance of the project research findings and policy recommendations, emphasising that the Ministry will take them into account for the purpose of future policy-making processes, in order to improve the cooperation between the researchers and policymakers.

Ms. Opardija-Susnjar presented the impact of the RRPP programme in Serbia, as well as the findings from the recent programme assessment and evaluation. Over a period of six years, the Swiss Government invested more than CHF 2 million in social sciences in Serbia through the RRPP, with more than 30 research projects led by Serbian research institutions receiving funds. According to Ms Opardija-Susnjar, the researchers working on RRPP projects assessed the programme as a unique opportunity to implement policy-relevant research projects, to collaborate with their colleagues from the region and benefit from funding for empirical research.

A representative of the Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Ms Gorana Radovanovic presented the agenda of the new SDC funded project – PERFORM, aimed at strengthening the relevance of social sciences for social and political reforms.

In addition, the RRPP local coordinator, Mr Mihajlo Djukic and Mr Dejan Stankovic from the Centre for Educational Policies, who briefly presented the research idea, methodology and the main outcomes of the project, focusing on the use of social science research for the purpose of public policymaking. More details on the project results can be found in the policy briefs (in Serbian) resulting from the research:

Društvene nauke za dobrobit društva

Ka jačanju institucionalne podrške i unapređenju obrazovanja mladih istraživača


Improvement of Legal Framework

Mr Igor Bandovic from the European Fund for the Balkans moderated the first panel titled Implementation of the research results in the field of social sciences in the policymaking processes. The aim of the panel was to discuss the possibilities for the implementation of the policy recommendations proposed by the RRPP Working Group in order to improve the current legal framework for cooperation between researchers and policymakers.

The main conclusion of the panel is that problems in communication between researchers and policy makers result from their use of different “languages” and a lack of communication. The lack of collaboration between the two groups has a quite long tradition. Communication has been improved recently, particularly through the recommendations resulting from the RRPP National Policy Dialogue project, and through the efforts of the Republic Secretariat for Public Policies, the institution tasked with linking researchers’ priorities with the priorities listed in the state institutions’ agendas. The most illustrative example of the progress made is the recognition and evaluation of the research results in the creation of the public policies. The discussion between the panellists and recommendations and questions addressed by the researchers was rather emotional due to many open issues concerning the call for research projects of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, which was postponed last year.

Challenges for Young Researchers

The problems of young researchers need to be particularly tackled in the context of long-term development and as a necessary step in the prevention of brain drain. During the second panel titled Challenges for young researchers in Serbia in the field of social sciences, a member of the RRPP Working Group for Young Researchers presented the main project findings and policy recommendations. If implemented, these recommendations might help resolve the problems young researchers in Serbia face, such as poor living conditions and the lack of funding for specific purposes (attending international conferences, publication in reputable scientific journals, covering the costs of empirical research for the completion of PhD theses, etc.).
The results were further discussed by Prof. Snjezana Milivojevic, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, who specifically pointed out the need for the reform of PhD programmes and current collision between education and the scientific policy.

It was concluded that the most important progress in the previous period has been recorded in the field of diploma recognition. However, most of the problems young researchers face still remain, such as the lack of funds for empirical research and attending scientific conferences abroad. University curricula and courses need to be reformed to be more flexible and practical, so as to be able to meet the current needs.

Summing up the panel discussion, the working group members underlined that young researchers needed to take a more proactive stance towards policymaking processes in order to be recognised by the system. The participants pointed out that young scientists should have a better position in the new call for research projects and the new strategy. The panel conclusions will serve as an indispensable contribution for further advocacy activities which the Serbian research community needs to undertake.

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