Building a stronger civil service in Kosovo

The British Council is helping to shape an inclusive, vibrant society in Kosovo through initiatives spanning the arts, education and society. We have provided significant support to Kosovo's bid to join the EU, assisting government and non-government stakeholders in their talks with EU institutions and actors. The aim of these is to develop ways of modernising Kosovo’s public administration system to meet EU administrative and democracy-related standards.

In this same spirit, the British Council’s ‘Young Cell Scheme’ (YCS) has, since 2004, provided Kosovar graduates with the opportunity to participate in postgraduate study programmes in EU universities, thereby building civil servants’ professional capacity and expertise in key areas of Kosovo’s public administration. 

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to building a professional, accountable and apolitical civil service at all levels in Kosovo by supporting the public administration through a scholarship programme. The programme strives to build the professional capacity of the civil service to meet the needs of Kosovar citizens and the country’s obligations under the country’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).

Since its beginnings, the scheme has awarded more than 240 grants, with successful candidates completing the Masters programmes of prestigious EU universities in various fields. These include, but are not limited to, Public Administration, Economics and Law. Moreover, in 2014, the YCS organised a pilot project targeting civil servants from four Serb-majority northern municipalities; Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. 

The past three rounds of the project have all been successful and well-received by the European Delegation in Kosovo and Ministry for European Integration (MEI). Furthermore, 85 per cent of the 250 students who completed the YCS scholarship programme currently work within the Kosovar government, and many work for the MEI itself and independent authorities.  

Project scope

Under Round X of the project, the British Council will support Kosovo’s public administration with the selection of candidates including, candidates for a pilot scheme designed just for civil servants. We will also support the management of the 30 to 40 selected grantees, the process of institutionalising the scheme in the Kosovar government, preparations for Round XI of the programme, and provide advice and assistance to the Alumni Association where possible.

The MEI and Ministry of Public Administration (MPA) will be involved throughout the project cycle, from promoting the scheme and selecting grantees to managing the implementation of Round X and preparing the ground for the project’s continuation. MEI and MPA employees will be invited to shadow project staff to ensure the institutionalisation, ownership and long-term sustainability of the scheme. 

Overall, the YCS will help provide staff to these public institutions and build the capacity, expertise and motivation of current civil servants through the pilot scholarship. Equally, by supporting to the Alumni Association, the project will strengthen the capacity of former YCS grantees, ensuring that they are effective and positive forces in Kosovo’s journey towards European integration

Progress to date 

Implementation of Round X is halfway through and 34 grantees have been selected. All were chosen through a transparent, non-discriminatory process fully in line with EU regulations and procedures. Furthermore, a series of measures to institutionalise the YCS within the MEI have been put forward, as have the measures for the pilot scheme for civil servants. 

The British Council has continued to advise and support the YCS Alumni, facilitate the employment of the project’s scholars within Kosovo’s public administration and followed-up on grantees from Round IXa. Finally, plans for the project’s continuation are also underway and suggestions for Round XI have been put forward. 


June 2016