Gross irregularities and misuse of funds at the Pristina public university have come under legal scrutiny.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 01/05/12
According to the Equality, Study, Critic, Action student movement, lectures are held in small spaces crammed with 200 to 300 students. [Reuters]
Authorities in Kosovo are investigating possible criminal charges and misuse of public funds after learning that some faculty members at the Pristina public university are reportedly making 8,000 euros per month.
The salaries dwarf the average salary of 273 euros in poverty-stricken Kosovo, where the unemployment rate tops 40%.
"We are collecting information. The police have the authorisation of the prosecutor. The investigation will depend on collected information," Aleksander Lumezi, Pristina district chief prosecutor, told SETimes.
Media in Kosovo has reported that the police unit for financial crimes is gathering evidence. So far, the electronic hard copy files of salaries for 2010 and 2011 were collected from the university, including all benefits of the professors and staff, along with additional work payments.
District prosecutor Drita Hajdari told reporters that the investigation into the professors' salaries and extra work pay are two separate issues. A different prosecutor is dealing with the issue of extra work fees.
Hajdari told Kosovo daily Koha Ditore that the Pristina university internal regulations provide no legal basis for inquiry into legal violations of the pay scale, despite irregularities.
Milazim Krasniqi, a member of the university's leading council, said the salaries are publicly available.
"The salaries are legal and public, and range from 1,000 to 1,100 euros a month. I know [the issue] is about the payments for extra work which, because of administrative negligence, have been delivered in one payment," Krasniqi told Kosovo daily Express.
Krasniqi acknowledges that some professors received large payments for extra work, saying this happens due to the lack of assistant professors.
"It is evident that there are big payments for extra work for some professors. It happens in the faculty of economy and law where there are few professors and many students," Krasniqi told Express.
Krasniqi added that the university lacks the will to open positions to new staff, because the current one "tends to preserve the benefits they have."
The student movement for Equality, Study, Critic, Action, also reacted to recent events at the university. The movement's Rron Gjinovci told SETimes that lectures are held in small spaces with 200 to 300 students.
"In some cases, it also happens because the professors do not respect the time tables and gather two to three groups in order to reduce their work time," Gjinovci told SETimes.
He added that a lack of labs and other study facilities makes mere lecturing hard to follow, without an inter-active approach to learning.
"The professors are civil servants and they should be engaged only in academic issues," Gjinovci said. He also underlines that the professors should be paid well, but control [over them and their work] should be rigorous.
Ardian Arifaj, a researcher for the Kosovo Institute KIPRED, added "The main question here is not legal, but moral -- to receive nowadays in Kosovo a salary of 8,000 euros at a time when other colleagues are paid from the Kosovo budget, much less, so less that they can hardly survive," Arifaj told SETimes.
Students have protested repeatedly, asking for better conditions. The last protest was on April 24th when the arts faculty students played music in front of the rector's and the university administration offices, protesting their poor conditions.
Pristina University will be electing its main governing bodies in early May, and wrapping them up by late June.