Belgrade remains in control of the university amid a dispute between local Serbs and Pristina.
By Muhamet Brajshori and Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Pristina and Belgrade -- 07/03/13
Belgrade and Pristina are debating who should control the University of Pristina in Mitrovica. [University of Pristina in Mitrovica]
While Belgrade and Pristina continue negotiating the future of northern Kosovo, education officials are similarly engaged in resolving the status of the Serbian-language University of Pristina in Mitrovica.
Disagreements between Serbia and Kosovo concern which nation should have jurisdiction over the university and its name.
According to the Athisaari Plan, Serbs living in northern Kosovo have the right to run higher education institutions, but due to political differences between local Serbs and authorities in Pristina, the issue has not been resolved.
The town of Mitrovica is ethnically divided between Albanians and Serbs, and language differences and political disputes have limited the options for the university's more than 10,000 students.
Arber Morina, chief of staff to Kosovo's minister of education, told SETimes that the university is not recognised by Kosovo's government.
"[The] current use of the name 'University of Pristina in Mitrovica' is unacceptable as it reflects a parallel institution to the University of Pristina," Morina said.
Afrim Kasolli, a Vetvendosje member of Kosovo's Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science, told SETimes the university in Mitrovica is an illegal institution that is not subject to Kosovo's constitutional and legal systems in the sphere of higher education.
"The institution is managed directly by Belgrade and operates in accordance with the legal system of Serbia," Kasolli said. "Thus, this institution is an expression of the dual division of our educational system."
But Marko Jaksic, a member of the Serbian parliament's board for Kosovo, told SETimes the university "has to stay there as a part of the community of Serbian universities."
For many Kosovo Serbs, attending the university in Mitrovica is their only choice due a lack of money for travel costs to universities in Serbia. The primary concern for Kosovo Serb students is recognition of their diplomas by potential employers.
"I follow the job ads, but everybody requires a diploma from Serbia," Jelena Stojiljkovic, 24, an art student at the University of Pristina in Mitrovica, told SETimes.
Dusan Janjic, an associate of the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade, suggested that a potential solution is a public-private partnership.
"There would be participation from Kosovo and Serbia with their budgets, as well as some private [participation]," Janjic said. "As a public-private partnership, it would have some autonomy while joint management would make important decisions on study programmes, student and teacher numbers."