Marjan Dema | Photo: BIRN.

Suspicious promotions mar Marjan Dema’s UP rectorship

Responding to allegations that the UP continues to promote academics with disregard to meritocratic criteria, Rector Dema shifts the blame.

“I like Rozafa Koliqi because she has a strong character and because she got Kosovo on its feet. I’m serious. To mobilize all of Kosovo – all agencies, all inspectors, all televisions, all newspapers – only Rozafa Koliqi can do that. Bravo,” said Marjan Dema, Rector of the University of Prishtina, UP, on BIRN Kosovo’s television programme Jeta ne Kosove.

Dema, appointed UP Rector last March, was referring to whistleblower Rozafa Koliqi, who revealed suspicious promotion practices at the Faculty of Medicine last week on Jeta ne Kosove. Koliqi has complained to the Kosovo Police and the Department for Serious Economic Crimes and Corruption, which have initiated investigations into the university’s practices.

Responding to her allegations, Dema said that he admires her courage, but that unfortunately it was the university senate that makes these choices.

“Of course, for every problem that I inherited and came across, I solved it. The Senate determines whether or not someone is the best choice, not the rector,” said Dema.

In addition to Koliqi, Dema was also asked about a few other suspicious cases of promotions reported via the anti-corruption platform Kallxo.

One of those reports regarded Milaim Sejdini, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine suspected of appropriating a paper written by his assistant Albena Reshitaj for her PhD, and putting his name as first author.

By plagiarizing Reshitaj’s paper, Sejdini was able to advance from an assistant professor to an associate professor, filling a vacancy opened in 2013.

Professor Sejdini himself admitted to BIRN that he used his assistant’s paper to advance from assistant professor to associate professor.

After Albena Reshitaj noticed this, she complained to the UP Ethics Council, but never heard back from them.

Rector Dema blamed the Ethics Council for ignoring her case, although he admitted that this council cannot take any decisions without regulations of procedure being approved by the Senate.

“We have the Ethics Council, and this is a case for them. We still have not passed the disciplinary regulation with which this council works. We’re almost finished with it. The Ethics Council cannot have meetings, cannot take decisions without a regulation. Until the moment that the regulation is approved, meanwhile we will wait,” said Dema.

Dema also claimed that during the past year he has managed to address issues with regards to PhD programs and has contributed to international cooperations. He also said that he managed to improve communication between the rectorate and the Senate, which had been lagging during the leadership of previous rectors.

In the past years, the University of Prishtina has been plagued with scandals. In 2014, then-rector Ibrahim Gashi resigned after Koha Ditore revealed he had published in a fraudulent journal.

In an attempt to stop suspicious promotions, Gashi’s replacement Ramadan Zejnullahu stopped the Senate from promoting academics through package deals. Unsuccessful in his attempts, he resigned in February 2016, claiming that “to continue to stay at the helm of the university would be to fool citizens that everything is in order and everything will be fine… I do not want to remain the head of an institution which has chosen a path that does not comply with my vision.”

10/03/2017 - 14:44

10 March 2017 - 14:44

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.