MASA on the occasion of the competition of the Provincial Secretariat for the financing of short-term projects

The Network of Academic Solidarity and Engagement (MASA) would like to praise some progress made in the transparency of the procedure for announcing the results of the competition for financing short-term projects of special interest for sustainable development in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in 2020, which is announced and financed by the Provincial Secretariat for Higher Education and scientific research activity (hereinafter the Secretariat).

In accordance with requests sent by MASA to the Secretariat, the following elementary conditions for transparency in the selection and evaluation of projects have been met:

- the results of the competition were published on the website of the Secretariat on the page where the competition was published, which made an effort to make the results of the competition available to the public.

- the results of the competition were announced publicly before the signing of the financing agreement with the managers of the selected projects.

- the entire list of project proposals was published, i.e. and those who were not and those who were selected in the competition, with the overall grade they achieved in the competition.

In addition to the stated requirements concerning the competition itself, before the end of the competition, the Provincial Secretariat also published information about the members of the newly elected Expert Councils, which was also one of the requirements of MASA.

MASA therefore states that the elementary conditions of the transparency of the competition procedure are fulfilled. However, essential requirements are still not met, among which we highlight the following two as the most important:

- that the results be published, highlighting the grades of all the relevant project quality criteria that have been defined rulebook, from which it would be clear how the overall assessment of the project was arrived at;

- avoiding conflicts of interest when reviewing projects, where the members of the Expert Councils who perform the role of reviewers and the project proponents come from the same institutions.

Since the requests of MASA were sent after the announcement of the aforementioned tender, MASA expresses the hope that these most important conditions will be fulfilled in the next tenders already during their announcement through a clearer definition of the part of the rulebook that refers to the evaluation of projects, as well as the definition of conflicts of interest in the evaluation of projects .

We believe that the Provincial Secretariat has shown good will and taken the first step towards improving the transparency of the application procedure for such competitions. We hope that in the future all other requests made by MASA will be fulfilled, with the aim of restoring the confidence of the academic community in the expediency of applying for such competitions.

MASA will continue to monitor the activities of the Provincial Secretariat and make constructive suggestions for the improvement of procedures, with the aim of improving the general situation in the academic sphere.