In Kosovo, a student outcry about Pristina University professors


The student parliament charges Pristina University academic staff with absenteeism, saying it undermines both the quality of education and university standards.

By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 14/01/12


Some students say Pristina University professors are frequently absent. [Safet Kabashaj/SETimes]

Pristina University professors are absent significant periods of time on the job, according to research conducted by the university’s student parliament.

The research identified 83 academic staff members who consistently missed lectures they were scheduled to deliver, exams, student consultation sessions and other activities.

Data shows professors who are concurrently active in both politics and academia have the worst record, student parliament leader Mentor Hasani said. The data is being discussed at length on several Kosovo blogs by Hasani and other students.

Some of the most senior officials -- such as Justice Minister Hajredin Kuqi, who is a law faculty lecturer -- and Economic Development Minister Besim Beqaj, top the list, according to Hasani.

"If they continue to be absent, we will take other steps in stopping this approach, which is damaging academic quality, damaging students' education as well as [wasting] the Kosovo budget," he added.

The student parliament plans to present the results to university administrators as a means of improving professors' accountability.

The professors tried to put pressure on the Kosovo media, according to Hasani, but the research results were published, ensuing in a widespread public debate on the quality of instruction and services, low academic criteria and allegations of unqualified staff, and student registry irregularities.

Kosovo MP and Constitutional Law and Philosophy Professor Arsim Bajrami is a rare professor who publicly commented, saying the students should verify the data before publishing it.

"I am forced to consider as completely incorrect the results of the questionnaire, which supposedly alludes to my absence in the academic process," Bajrami said, adding he has encouraged students to actively participate in the university process.

Lavdime argues the situation in academia reflects the country's overall environment. "It is indicative of Kosovo's post-war values," she said.

Among the proposals to improve the situation is the one by Mirsie, who suggests that to overcome systemic abuse at the university, the institution must start from scratch.

"Pristina University should be dissolved for one or two years, and start from the beginning, in order to be able to achieve results," she said.

Some commentators suggest legal sanctions for what they describe as the professors' disregard for academia. Curbing the practice of professors with links to political parties holding several jobs concurrently, Daut argues it is necessary to adopt a law that would "limit one person [to] one job".

Others, like Ardian, are against officials holding academic positions altogether. "All these personalities exercising high office duties should resign their university jobs. It is shameless the way the justice minister and the constitutional court president violate basic legal and moral principles."

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Ekonomiksi1 speaks for those who contest the research and charge the authors with political interference. "The student parliament manipulated with questionnaires that it distributed through the faculties, and I do not trust this because there are political interests in the background."

Flamur argues professors are not the only ones at fault. "Students are responsible and should be blamed for this, because of their lack of courage [to react in a timely manner]. Remember the courage of students in the 1980s and their actions for change in the former Yugoslavia."

"Students should be happy not to see and hear some professors. Simply, they do not deserve to be seen and heard," Bardh Sokoli said with irony.

Still others like Ilir contest the credibility of the students themselves. "How many illiterate students have graduated? How many are involved in student organisations? How many enrolled there without fulfilling the criteria?"

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