Professors Smith and Hamilton at Jeta ne Kosove. | Photo: BIRN.

European experts concerned about ‘vulgar corruption’ in higher education in Kosovo

European-commissioned experts found that high salaries, bribery, and a lack of discussion amongst stakeholders about the Code of Ethics hinder the integrity of Kosovo’s higher education.

A report presented by two European experts commissioned by the Council of Europe and the European Commission emphasizes the need to fight corruption in higher education in Kosovo.

Presenting the findings of their report “Strengthen integrity and combat corruption in higher education” for BIRN Kosovo’s television programme Jeta ne Kosove, the two Scottish professors Tom Hamilton and Ian Smith discussed high salaries and “vulgar corruption” at the University of Prishtina.

The report comes after recent scandals involving unfair promotions at the University of Prishtina were revealed by Jeta ne Kosove, as well as a civil society initiative to pressure the Ministry of Education to find a solution for the dire state of higher education in Kosovo.

According to Smith, a professor at the University of West Scotland, salaries for academic staff in Kosovo are very high compared to other professions. According to the report’s findings, some professors make 2,200 euros per month, and other academic staff make 1,400 euros.  Additional teaching is paid 25 euros per hour. In contrast, a hospital specialist is paid between 600 and 800 euros per month, while a high school director receives about 550 euros.

We were given this information. We’re not necessarily suggesting that we have been able to do sufficiently extensive research to confirm this,” said Smith, explaining the limitations of their research, which started in November. However, he added that if their data is correct, “authorities need to explain this or adjust [the salaries] so the public is assured that appropriate, fair and transparent salaries are being awarded.”

Smith also commented on political figures that hold teaching positions.

“In our system, you can have senior staff from such positions teaching guest lectures… I think we see our people in academia as entirely academic, and politicians as people who are entirely political,” said Smith.

Meanwhile Hamilton, a professor at the University of Stirling, said that their conversations with students revealed that bribery is a common occurrence.

One of the things when we spoke to the students… one of the things they said was that they were aware of what we’ve called ‘vulgar corruption,’ that there were opportunities for ‘vulgar corruption,’” said Hamilton. “By that, we meant the possibility of staff seeking bribes or students offering bribes. We really wanted to avoid that, and that should be within the Code of Ethics.”

Hamilton also spoke about the need to involve staff and students in developing the Code of Ethics.

“One of the things we would suggest, in terms of further developing the Code of Ethics within the University, is that you need to do that in a participatory way. It cannot just be something that is handed out. You need to have everybody from within the system commenting on it,” said Hamilton. “Both students and staff have to take what they are saying seriously… it’s much more likely that they will abide by it if they feel they have been adequately represented.”

The European experts also affirmed the need to establish a functional and fair Ethics Committee.

“”The Ethics Committee has to been seen doing its job. It has to be seen to be fair, it has to been seen to be transparent,” said Hamilton.

17/03/2017 - 11:42

17 March 2017 - 11:42

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosova. For 8 years, PI has been reporting on current affairs, published exclusive investigations and longform features & essays about Kosovo and the region.