Academic deception sits at the heart of main educational institutions

The irregularities and deception at the Kosovo Academy of Science and Arts and the University of Prishtina of the last two decades should alarm our society.

Let us start by pointing out the main shortcomings of the University of Prishtina, UP, in the last two decades.

Many members of UP’s academic staff, especially those employed after the Kosovo war, were chosen on a political, nepotistic and corruptive basis. Almost half of UP’s high officials – members of the governing council, the rectors and deputy rectors, members of the senate, deans and vice deans – have not justified their academic titles.

An analysis of the resumes of UP professors revealed even worse results than those of the leaders of the university. Another aspect that displays the lack of qualifications of the academic staff of the UP is plagiarism. Although there has not been any extensive research on the phenomenon, there are indications that it is extraordinarily widespread throughout UP.

The university does not run study programs based on the demands of the job market. Furthermore, very little practical training is provided during university study, mostly because of the large number of students and the poor planning of the learning program.

Progress reports on Kosovo by the European Commission have suggested a reformation of curriculums and the promotion of scientific research. In many departments of UP, students oftentimes use unofficial summaries of lectures and even exam papers of different classes to study.

A considerable number of department libraries are poorly stocked. Also, the situation in reading halls cannot be considered good. UP currently publishes only six journals, yet none of them fulfills international criteria. The UP also continues having problems with subscriptions to international academic journals.

So, the UP is dealing with unqualified staff; selection of the basis of party affiliation, clans, nepotism and corruption; unmeritorious academic promotion; plagiarism; a lack of coherent curriculums that do not relate to the needs of the economy and society in general; a lack of scientific journals; serious problems with subscriptions to international academic journals; a lack of libraries; outdated mandatory textbooks, and so on.

On the other hand, UP has no apparent problems when it comes to the salaries of its staff. Monthly salaries of the UP staff are some of the best in the region – up to 1,400 euros. Apart from that, almost one-third of UP professors teach in other public or private universities, which has an evident effect on the accomplishment of their obligations in the UP, as is said in a recent report by Admovere called “The UP academic staff.”

But, the University of Prishtina is not the only institution of higher education where such irregularities have been evidenced. In a report called “Crisis at the Academy” published recently by NGO Integra, the Academy of Science and Arts of Kosovo, ASHAK, was shown to also have many irregularities of a similar nature to those of the UP.

Almost all publications of ASHAK are authored by Albanians and are in Albanian, which means that this institution has barely any publications in English. In the last 10 years, even though it has received almost 10 million euros from Kosovo’s state budget – the poorest country in Europe – ASHAK finalized only two larger projects: a monograph called “Kosovo – a monographic overview” and “The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Kosovo.” Unfortunately, the quality of these publications has incited a lot of debate. All projects by ASHAK are national projects, which means that, unlike regional academies, it does not have any international projects.

Even worse, ASHAK is led by Nexhat Daci, a person who received an 18-month-long suspended prison sentence by the former District Court of Prishtina for abuse of official office when Daci was the President of the Assembly of Kosovo 2004-2006. The decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Three members of ASHAK, Nexhat Daci, Sabri Hamiti and Arsim Morina, were accused with strong supporting evidence by Musa Limani, Sali Bytyci and Talat Gjinolli respectively, of plagiarism in their work.

Most importantly, even though ASHAK is legally obligated to report to the Kosovo assembly about its work, it has so far never reported. What best reflects the poor situation of this institution is its official website on the internet: dysfunctional, not updated, and above all, only in one language, Albanian.

As with the veterans’ lists, it would perhaps be good to verify the lists of the members of UP’s academic staff and the lists of regular and correspondent members of ASHAK. In the end, we should not only judge the war veterans’ lists for their deception, when we can find the same model of deception and theft of the Kosovo state budget by a considerable number of the University of Prishtina and Kosovo Academy of Science and Arts staff.

The opinions expressed in the opinion section are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of BIRN.

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