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Military academy higher education in the Serbian defence system

The beginning of the military education in Serbia in a modern sense is linked to an Act passed by Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević on March 6 (18), 1850 whereby the prince, accepting the proposal of his defence minister, endorsed the “Project for setting up an Artillery School”. On January 18 (31), 1880 the name of Military Academy, used by general public ever since the school was established, formally replaced the name of Artillery School.

 Today, the Military Academy is an educational and scientific institution which trains career officers for all services, branches and duties of the Military of Serbia. It provides higher education to its students, including post-graduate vocational and specialization studies, master’s and doctor’s degree studies. The Academy is also doing important research work – fundamental, applied and development research, aimed at upgrading scientific and teaching skills of its personnel but also at gradual inclusion of students into scientific work.

 Basic studies at the Military Academy rely on the existing, non-reformed curriculum for students enrolled before the academic year 2006/07. For students enrolled as of the academic year 2006/07, the studies are implemented based on new, reformed curriculum.

 The common curriculum of basic studies consists of four modules: general education module, general military module, vocational-specialization and a faculty module. The general education module covers general subjects in the humanities, basic sciences and mathematics and engineering science, providing basic knowledge necessary for more advanced learning. The general military module of the curriculum provides fundamental knowledge in the fields that are of general interest for officers, such as tactics, command, military history, geography. The vocational-specialization module of the curriculum provides knowledge required for a particular Service or branch (armament, fighting vehicles, firing theory, tactics of the particular Service, military equipment...). The faculty module is related to the faculty which has participated in the joint programme and covers the topics related to the major subjects of the corresponding faculty and its departments (management, human resources management, civil defence and environmental protection, security...). After completing the common course of study lasting four years, the students are awarded first degree academic diploma and a professional title of bachelor.

FRAMEWORK

 Common curriculum of the Military Academy and the Faculty of Security Studies - Infantry Department and Security Module are shown in the table below:

Training of students for logistic specialties is also implemented under the new four-year curriculum harmonized with Bologna Declaration. Although this curriculum is not organized in cooperation with one of the faculties of Belgrade University, its content for the most part coincides with educational programmes applicable at the faculties of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy.

 The second level of higher education at the Military Academy has not yet been reformed. Postgraduate studies (master’s degree) in military and military-technical science and specialization courses in military-technical science for the enrolled students are implemented under the old Law.

 Postgraduate studies in military science include strategy, operations strategy, tactics and command, with some contents from the methodology of military science, operational research, information technologies and computer technique, theory of war and management. Postgraduate studies in military-technical science incorporate technical, quartermaster, transport, aeronautical-technical and geo-topographic security, with some contents related to the organization and methods of scientific and R&D works, information systems and computer techniques, operational research, security design, Probability Theory and statistical methods, space-related processes and methods, military economics, aeronautical engineering and groups of vocational and specialization subjects. It is expected that by the time the first educational level is completed under the new curriculum, master’s degree studies under the new curriculum will be available.  

 

The third level of higher education– doctor’s degree studies are not being conducted at the moment; the only activities in this regard are the preparation and defence of doctor’s theses in the field of military and military-technical science under the old Law.  Possibilities of implementing doctor’s degree studies will depend on the form of accreditation the Military Academy will obtain.

Besides basic and postgraduate studies, proficiency postgraduate courses for career officers are also an important educational segment. This form of professional improvement is organized within the School of National Defence with long tradition. The School of National Defence implements professional improvement of career officers at the levels of command-staff and general staff.

 The purpose of command-staff professional improvement is to prepare officers for the duties of battalion/division commander and for headquarters duties at the brigade level. The training lasts one year (from September to July) and consists of nine compulsory subjects the students must pass within the regular examination terms.  This advanced training is focused on planning-related contents and on conducting specific operations.

General staff improvement is the highest educational level for career officers in the Military of the Republic of Serbia. The goal of this education is to prepare officers to carry out duties of the brigade commander, to lead operations with joint tactical and operational task forces and perform most responsible duties within the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff. The training lasts from September to July and consists of selected defence topics concerned with strategy, military strategy and operations strategy. In addition to regular lessons within the programme of General Staff improvement, it is envisaged to organize several educational visits within the country, a study tour abroad, and a training course in the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff.

In addition to the forms of instruction described above, the Military Academy pays much attention to permanent education of officers (lifelong education). This form of education is implemented through numerous courses such as specific skill building, didactical-methodical courses for teachers-beginners, as well as foreign languages courses – very topical in view of the ongoing reforms in the defence system and more and more intense activities in associating the Republic of Serbia to the collective security system.

The Military Academy also incorporates a Military High School attended by pupils, future students of the Military Academy. The programme of this school is identical to that of any other high school of scientific-mathematical orientation. This school is of extraordinary significance as it prepares future students for the studies at the Military Academy and helps create high quality officers.

High quality education of officers not only requires good curriculum; outstanding teaching personnel and good material basis are also indispensable.

The Academy has a respectable material basis – numerous offices, laboratories, classrooms and training areas, multi-purpose sports centre with swimming pool and boarding facilities for students and listeners, having the capacity of up to two thousand people. As for its educational material basis, the Military Academy has great advantage compared to any other institution of higher education in the country, as it practically implies all defence system resources. Through various special forms of instruction during their studies, the students and listeners of the Military Academy take part in different activities of the Military of Serbia. Owing to this, they are better prepared for the profession but they also provide feedback for innovation of teaching programmes. Laboratory capacities of military R&D institutions are also available to students, as a prerequisite for implementation of some important segments of the training process.

Teaching personnel is one of the key elements of high quality education. The Military Academy currently employs 39 doctors of science and 35 masters of science. Cooperation with Belgrade University has been long and very successful. 

In addition to teaching activities, higher education institutions are deeply involved in R&D activities. These activities consist of fundamental and applied research and the results are published through master’s degree theses, doctor’s theses, monographs and press releases in magazines and at scientific gatherings.