Students at Pristina University say appointments of school officials is politicised.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 19/10/12
Students protested earlier this month. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]
Students at Pristina University have been expressing their discontent with political parties' influence in the appointment of senior university officials. The university, founded in 1969, has 17 faculties and more than 41,000 students.
Based on the regulation on the work of the Senate of the University, the senate elects the members of the Leading Council of the University, which elects the rector of the university.
The current rector, Ibrahim Gashi from the Alliance for the New Kosova, was elected in July by the Leading Council of the university.
The students protested October 1st against the appointment of Nuri Bexheti as the pro-rector of the university, throwing eggs and clashing with the police who detained seven students in the university yard.
Musa Preteni, deputy chairman of the student parliament, said Bexheti won the appointment because he is an adviser to the minister of education.
"The student parliament of the University of Pristina expresses its deep concern and asks the rectorate to dismiss such people coming from the political parties, immediately," Preteni told the media.
On October 7th, representatives of the student parliament met with Gashi. Although the rector said that Bexheti will remain in his post, he told the student organisation that Bexheti will not lead the commission for the selection of the academic staff in the university.
Student parliament representative Arian Janova told Kosovo daily Zeri that the students will continue to protest if the rector does not keep his promise.
"The party appointments in the university and the violence against the students, contains a threat and a violation for the entire society," the Student Movement for Equality, Study, Critic and Action said. "We are asking for responsibility from the university leadership for the situation in which it is."
The students also oppose the new draft statute for the university. The statute, which outlines how the university is run, was changed in accordance with the new law on higher education.
One of the main articles to be changed in the statute is on composition of the Leading Council of the university, which elects the rector and pro-rectors. With the current statute, the Leading Council is composed of four members delegated from the ministry of education and five from the academic staff delegated from the senate of the university.
According to the new law on higher education, all the members of the Leading Council will now come from outside the university.
Students sent a letter to Kosovo MPs, urging them to vote against the draft statute of the university, which is expected to be discussed this month.
The students say that the draft statute, compiled by the Leading Council and the Rectorate, was not discussed within the university.
"Neither the students, nor the professors, were asked about its content," student NGOs said, adding that they want an open discussion that includes university students, professors and citizens on the draft.
The students blame the present and past governments for the situation in the university. "In a situation where a real plan for education was missing, in which the university would have a key role, the powers [the government and political parties], transformed [university control] into their tool," they said.
Arber Morina, adviser to Education, Science and Technology Minister Rame Buja, said the ministry does not agree. "All [university] members were subject to the rules foreseen by the legal norms and they went through voting," Morina told SETimes.
Rron Gjinovci, a student at Pristina University and a former activist in the student movement, said the main problem is the way the university is organised and its relations with the government institutions.
"The university status [being] defined by the Leading Council … is a problem," Gjinovci told SETimes.
Some opposition parties agree that there are political interventions in the university.
According to the Democratic League of Kosovo, the engagement of the academic and administrative staff in two other public universities in Prizren and Peja, has been "extremely" politicised.