The aim of the project is to develop and implement an interdisciplinary master curriculum in applied statistics in line with the existing European study programmes and according to the Bologna requirements at Serbian universities and to organize Life Long Learning programmes in applied statistics for professionals in different fields of economy.

The project is motivated by needs for applied statisticians in many branches of Serbian economy, and generally in Serbian society. This need is justified by the data obtained from Employment Service in Serbia. The main problem is that unlike in EU countries, there is no an university programme in applied statistics on any of universities in Serbia. The consequence is that, instead of graduate applied statisticians, other specialists as mathematicians or computer scientists that are not educated in applied statistics, have been employed. This repeating practise has bad consequences in many aspects.

For a developing country in transition, applied statistics is an important tool for dealing with problems arising in numerous fields. It is well known that statistical methods are successfully applied to a wide variety of disciplines, whenever data are manipulated: if one has to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries; for problems in biological and medical phenomena and for observations by means of statistical analysis; for measurements made on a chemical system; for dynamic changes of population over time or space; for educational and psychological measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes; for statistical mechanics, and in many other fields. Therefore, in Europe and elsewhere there are various experts in applied statistics; in addition to basic mathematical and statistical education, each of them is supposed to be specialized in some or several foregoing fields. Obviously, the corresponding education should be inter-disciplinary. It is known that there are many well developed centers of applied statistic at EU universities, and generally in European countries. And what is the crucial reason for this project proposal, as we already mentioned, in Serbia there is no such study program in high education. Usually, mathematical statistics is included in mathematical curriculum, being (a part of) a course at some study program in applied mathematics.

A partial reason for this status of applied statistics in high education is that in general, interdisciplinary studies in Serbia are weakly developed. And this is caused by tradition – classical studies were (and still are) usually based on a single scientific field. In addition, interdisciplinary studies were hardly possible due to the former laws in high education: it was extremely complicate for different universities and faculties to create a common study program. New possibilities motivated by Bologna program should improve also this part of high education. And the need for experts in applied statistics is visible at the labor market in Serbia: such experts are welcomed in all branches of the society. Moreover, by the development plan of the country, Serbian finance, industry, economy and generally Serbian society require experts which can deal with complex interdisciplinary problems. Let us also mention new programs for lifelong learning, belonging to priorities in educational reform. Studies in applied statistics are indeed an important aspect of such knowledge and skill improvements, particularly for former graduates involved in new activities.

In addition to students enrolling the study programme in Applied Statistics and teachers improving their knowledge and skills, target group consists also of professionals already working in different areas of Economy having needs to upgrade their statistical capacities.

The need for such a study programme became evident during many contacts among teaching staff in Serbian universities involved in this application. These needs are also expressed by nonacademic partners (some of these are included in this project). During the reorganization of Serbian high education institutions according to Bologna suggestions many contacts with EU universities have been established. These contacts also made clear that such a study programme is missing in our country.