Public administration reform remains among the focal areas of EU’s assistance for Kosovo. Kosovo needs to put in place a depoliticised, professional, inclusive and effective public administration, capable of implementing EU legislation and managed in line with the best European practices in human resource management. This entails the establishment of effective structures organised in a manner that will allow for effective and efficient implementation of their respective competences. The EC’s 2016 Report on Kosovo states that, “In the coming year, Kosovo should in particular: review all independent bodies and start implementation of the recommendations of the review in order to enhance accountability, eliminate overlapping competencies and ensure a more streamlined public administration; [and] ensure that the planned legislative package covering civil service, salaries and organisation of state administration is prepared in a coordinated way in an inclusive and evidence-based process on the basis of concept notes agreed at the government level”. More specifically, the EC reiterated its concerns with regard to the non-merit based recruitment process of civil servants and continued politicisation of the public administration; the organisational fragmentation of the state administration; the absence of effective lines of accountability; the overlap of responsibilities of government agencies; the lack of professional human resource management due to politicisation and limited capacity; and the limited provision of training and opportunities for professional development available to all civil servants.
Against this backdrop, the EC has been providing since 2004 funding and technical assistance through the ‘Young Cell Scheme’ scholarship programme (YCS) for Master Studies in EU universities, to assist Kosovo authorities in their efforts to build a professional, accountable and apolitical civil service at all levels of public administration. Upon the finalization of Master studies, YCS grantees are contractually obliged to return to Kosovo and work in Kosovo’s public administration for the minimum period of three consecutive years. 10 rounds of the programme have been so far organized between 2004 and 2017.
The overall objective of this program is to support the Government of Kosovo in building a professional, merit–based, accountable and apolitical Civil Service at all levels in Kosovo by supporting public administration through a scholarship programme that aims at improving the professional capacity of the civil service to better service Kosovo citizens and to meet the challenges and obligations arising from the SAA.
YCS program is managed by the European Union Office in Kosovo and currently implemented by the British Council in Kosovo through a three years EU funded project named “Young Cell Scheme (Round XI-XII)”. The specific objective of this project, is to support GoK in generating a core group of civil servants in the fields identified as weak areas for Kosovo. After finishing their Master studies in the EU universities the civil servants will be determined to drive and implement reforms in public administration, in particular those required for the SAA implementation.. To achieve this, the project awards a number of grants to young Kosovo citizens (of max. 35 years of age) holding a bachelor degree, by enabling enrolment in EU universities in specific MA, MSc and LLM programmes, to respond to the needs and requirements of Kosovo Government. After the completion of their period of studies in EU universities the grantees have a contractual obligation to return to Kosovo and to be employed for at least three consecutive years within the Kosovo public administration.
The selection process of potential grantees is conceived as a three stage procedure inspired by the highest standards of transparency, non-discrimination and fairness:
- Pre-selection of candidates;
- eligibility check of applications in conformity with the Rules of Procedure published on the project’s website
- Written exams;
- English knowledge test
- EU knowledge test
- Verbal and Numerical Reasoning test
- Oral exams;
- Interviews of candidates conducted by an international panel composed of 5 EU academics (1 representative each for the EUO in Kosovo and for the Ministry of European Integration as final beneficiary of the project are attending interviews as observers).
The process of selection of candidates is inspired since its very beginning (pre-notice for the call for application) until its very end (publication of final results) to the principles of fairness, transparency and non-discrimination, avoiding any kind of a political approach or influence over the selection procedure. The Young Cell Scheme is open to all sectors of Kosovo society, and it has a non-discriminatory policy encouraging participation from minorities, women and people with disabilities, by ensuring that all special needs requirements are met. For more specific information please contact us with your request or question.
The British Council set up a YCS Secretariat, made up of local and external experts, which is responsible for the overall management of the project in the following stages:
- selection of grantees,
- contacts with EU Universities to enrol students,
- pre-departure and departure of grantees,
- inception and payment of living allowances and university fees,
- monitoring of employment within the Government of Kosovo upon return
A total of 272 grants were awarded since its initiation in 2004 in 10 different EU Countries (Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Hungary, Portugal, Italy, Eire and Latvia) and in different fields ranging from EU Law, Public Administration and Economics to European Affairs and Public Policy.
Grantees from the previous rounds had the opportunity to specialise in various fields within Economics, Law and Politics of the European Union, as well as in Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Studies, Statistics, Aviation Safety and Regulations, Engineering, Telecommunications, Food Safety etc.
The YCS alumni studied in an array of universities including but not limited to list that you can find on this link.
Out of approximately 260 students who completed the Scholarship Programme, some 80% currently work for the Government of Kosovo at various levels and offices, both in line ministries, with many serving at the Ministry for European Integration, and independent authorities, like the Central Bank. If you are interested to learn more about YCS please see: