The quality of study programmes and the current administrative mess at the University of Pristina, UP, were discussed at a BIRN-organised debate at the university’s Philosophical Faculty.
Since July 2005, university management and the ministry of education have failed to make decisions in a number of key areas, most notably the appointment of a rector.
Participants in the BIRN event included leading figures in the territory’s education sector, such as the deputy minister for education, Fevzi Berisha, the Kosovo premier’s education adviser, Dukagjin Popovci, and the former minister for education, Rexhep Osmani.
The audience was made up of students from a number of university faculties.
Adem Beha, a political sciences student, listed some of the major problems affecting higher education in the territory.
“Isn’t it wrong that professors only come to classes when they have free time; when exam papers are lost; and when professors are guilty of plagiarising their own MA and PhD theses,” he said.
Natyra Gjurgjeala, a medical faculty professor who had been working at the university since 1974, said that the academic criteria applied at the moment is one of the worst in UP’s history.
The panellists were questioned extensively on the mismanagement of funds and corruption.
Popovci said the lack of funds was just an excuse for low-quality teaching, pointing out that the real problem was bad planning.
“Of the 400,000 euro set aside for the university’s budget for the first three months of this year, only 100,000 have been spent,” he said.
Elbasan Hoti, a student representative, said the administration of UP is so bad that students have no idea who to approach for student projects.
Jusuf Thaqi, a psychology student, said that one of the biggest problems for students was self-motivation because of their poor employment prospects.
“Lack of motivation among students is one of our biggest concerns – even if you get straight A grades, it is highly unlikely you will get a job when you leave university,” said Thaqi.
One of the most controversial subjects tackled in the debate was the upcoming election of faculty deans and the future leadership of UP.
Sejdi Hoxha, a representative of student parliament, complained about the transparency of the former, claiming that students had been excluded from election commissions – a claim denied by Berisha, who insisted that the commissions were overseen by the OSCE.
The battle between two biggest political parties, the LDK and the PDK, for control over the university was another topic of discussion.
Commenting on the politicisation of UP, Gjurgjeala said “student engagement in politics and politicians’ encouragement of this should remain outside the university.
“University should be a place dominated by activities that increase the quality of studies.”