The Path of Letters

Prishtina University, to a large extent, conducts its studies without literature. The basis of the program of this university continues to be scripts and sketches of lectures. The current literature is very outdated. In general, we have a going back as regards the standard of studying in this university, a return to “The Path of Letters”, when we only got the alphabet

Prishtinë, 16 December 2013

The fall of criteria in Prishtina University is widespread and has touched almost every sector of it. Due to being used for political ends, this university has been transformed into an institution which serves science the least. From within, there are voices which alarm about the situation, but the fact that neither the market nor the society has begun to make demands for quality has left this institution in the mercy of narrow interests and mediocrity. Professors linked with politics simply grab everything they can reach, often keeping jobs simultaneously in UP, private universities, as well as governmental institutions.

There isn’t a verified literature in UP, while students often willingly limit themselves in reading exam tests, which are often distributed as literature. In many UP departments, the mandatory subjects are taught with scripts, summaries of lectures as well as alternative literature, and even “leaked” tests which are distributed as instant literature for exams. Students are not sufficiently demanding, while many professors hold also public and governmental posts, and are additionally employed in various private colleges and do not have enough time to give lectures in UP. Instead of being penalized for absences in lectures, these professors take wages even for hours they did not hold. The payment of wages for professors who do not give regular lectures is also confirmed by reports of the Auditory, which are not being taken into account.

In Prishtina University, which has 16 Faculties consisting of 80 departments, only 6 scientific journals are published, which do not fulfill the international criteria on scientific journals. These journals did not manage to obtain international codes of scientific journals, but have only obtained codes from the National Library and the University of Kosovo.

Studying with scripts

Many departments of Faculties of Prishtina University lack basic literature for mandatory subjects. Instead of basic literature, students learn from scripts or summaries of lectures, which do not have academic quality, but have a general content.

Dukagjin Pupovci, director in the Kosovo Center for Education says that UP cannot have all the main books in albanian language, despite the fact that it obtains a large number of books translated from Albania. He says that regarding some subjects, professors have to devise scripts, but according to him, these scripts “are of a very low academic quality. "

"It is difficult to always have texts in Albanian language, so they have to learn from books in a foreign language or from scripts.....Professors devise their scripts for commercial purposes. So, even quality is not in its required level and cannot give sufficient knowledge from those scripts and slides. The worst is that the students are required to study only what has been written in the script”, says Pupovci.

Preportr has conducted a review of literature in the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Philosophy and Department of Journalism. Only some of the students of these faculties have agreed to speak about this issue, while the majority of the students did not agree to speak because of fear of eventual revenge by their professors.

Taking into account that most of literature in the Department of Philosophy is in a foreign language, mainly in English, the assessment report of the Accreditation Agency of Kosovo (June 2012) recommended to this department to improve the level of knowledge on foreign languages for students who participate in their study programs. “Without solving this problem, the Department of Philosophy will not be able to deliver a high quality knowledge in its area in a long-term prospect”, mentions the report of AAK.

Taking into account the shortcomings in the area of research of Faculty of Economics, the Accreditation Agency of Kosovo, in its assessment report (June 2012) recommended that studies should not be conducted only with standard literature, but also to establish a research approach, especially in seminary pieces. Additionally, AAK has recommended to the Faculty of Economics to establish a research-scientific center through which this faculty would develop more in the scientific aspect.

As regards quality of studies in the department of journalism, the Accreditation Agency of Kosovo, in its report of 2011, has assessed  that the Bachelor program resembles a tool box (knowledge and practice), something that could be offered in a college. “The Master’s Program appears that it does not have the subjects and factors which are necessary for a scientific framework: theoretical systems, methodology, referential disciplines, such as media companies, media policies, media psychology, media education etc. The programme plan does not show neither how far, how much and in what direction the students learn to work with scientific methods”, says the assessment report.

Furthermore, in departments of Faculty of Education there is a serious scarcity of basic books for mandatory subjects. According to students of this faculty, fourteen subjects are taught with scripts. There are even professors who make it mandatory to buy their books.

The Accreditation Agency of Kosovo has issued a recommendation that some of the programs of the Faculty of Education should increase their research work and at the same time look towards possibilities of participating in research projects which are being conducted in EU and in other teaching universities.

Read the newspaper #8

The lack of seriousness in UP is also shown by the fact that graduation papers of students are being sold in the car market in Fushe Kosova, and that with prizes of only 1 euro. The person selling these papers declared that he has thousands of them. On the other hand, these papers are not analyzed by anyone, but are presented formally in front of a commission of three professors.

Ramadan Zejnullahu, professor in the Department of Mathematics in FSHMN says that the fall of studying quality is happening because of the politicization of UP and the recruitment of new staff in UP without any criteria, but who have only been in the service of politics and different interest groups. He says that among the new academic staff mainly those who do not fulfill the legal criteria are chosen, and in many cases there are forfeited reviews and procedures by themselves, but also by reviewing commissions, and all of this happens out rightly and with the knowledge of UP leadership. In an opinion piece published in “Koha Ditore”, he says that the election of academic staff is done according to political preferences, material benefits or family links. According to him, the package voting for the election of academic staff in the Senate of UP has become the most sophisticated mechanism for covering up crime in this area.

"It is sufficient to extract a statistics of persons employed in UP these years in whatever post and conclude that the main criteria has been nepotism, political belonging and material interests. Consequently, academic units today are filled with staff who had a hard time getting a passing grade without dragging for a long time or often without avoiding procedures, whereas UP has degraded so much that it now has no chance of fulfilling its mission”, says Zejnullahu.

He says that the relatively large number of doctoral thesis and master thesis completed in a relatively short period of time is in full inconsistency with scientific capacities and laboratory equipment in UP. “The avoidance of academic procedures in this field has been accompanied by deviating actions which resulted with a non-qualitative and detrimental product for the development of high education in Kosovo. The bodies of the University have never made it clear that the transmission of scientific information can be done only by those who have the scientific information and who to some degree, are part of this information, but never those who obtained these degrees in illegal ways”, emphasizes Zejnullahu.

Falsification of grades in an organized fashion

Apart from the poor quality of studies, lack of basic literature, another phenomenon present is the falsification of grades by students. Arben Hajrullahu says that in the Faculty of Philosophy this phenomenon is widespread, and further speaks about the cases when even his signature or grade has been falsified. He raises grounded suspicion that the falsification of grades is done in collaboration between some individuals and academic, administrative and leading staff. Hajrullahu says that he has warned students and academic, administrative and leading staff that he would denounce them in the prosecution all those who would falsify his signature.

"In academic year 2012/13 I have had two problematic cases with which I have dealt. One case concerns threats against me, which I denounced in the police. In the other case one student in the final graduation phase is caught with more than ten false grades, and one of them being of a subject I teach. I have grounded suspicion that she did not commit this manipulation on her own. She must have done this with the assistance of some colleagues from the academic, administrative and leading staff.  I have denounced this case in the prosecution, and what they further do I do not know. Regarding the case, the prosecution has never contacted me up till now, while the Faculty for such cases issues ridiculous penalties in the style of suspending students for a number of semesters or delaying graduation ,etc”, says Hajrullahu. He adds that in 2007/2008 another case happened involving one assistant together with the administration, they made it possible for one so-called public figure to pass the exam through manipulation. “I remember, when I denounced the case in the Dean’s office, I was told that I should keep quiet because this person comes from the media and he could speak against us! Since in this case my signature was not falsified, I did not deal anymore with this, for example denouncing it in the prosecution ".

Hajrullahu says that there are various tendencies of students to pass exams without merit. He also mentions cases of threats through phone messages from students because they did not fulfill the criteria to pass the exams, but he never faltered and after the student who declared himself as “war veteran” apologized later and went through the exam as all other students.

Only six scientific journals, all without international codes

Prishtina University, which has 16 faculties, consisting of 80 departments, publishes only six scientific journals. But even these scientific journals do not have adequate scientific values, because only one of them (Njohja) has been distributed in the internet in the international market, whereas the others are used only within Kosovo. This shows that these journals are “poor” and still do not fulfill the criteria of international scientific journals. Taking this into account, these journals did not manage to obtain codes of international scientific journals, but have only obtained codes only from the National and University Library of Kosovo.

Even the rector Ibrahim Gashi himself has got into trouble with scientific works. He is suspected of having advanced into the professor level without any publication in scientific journals “with impact factor” and without fulfilling the number of five scientific works, as provided in the Statute of Prishtina University.

"Koha Ditore" on November 9 of this year reported that the majority of scientific works which have been recognized to merit this title, do not cite Gashi as main author, are irrelevant to the subject matter, but have also been published  in an Indian scientific journal which is suspected of being fictional.

The Faculty of Philosophy began in 2012 to publish the journal “Njohja”. This is a journal of the Institute for Social and Human Studies, in the Faculty of Philosophy. In May of 2013, the second edition of the journal came out. Hasnije Ilazi, member of the editors’ board of this journal says that this journal has reached audiences in the international scale and that already there is inquiring by foreign authors to publish their scientific works in this journal. Ilazi has said for Preportr that this journal has a powerful financial backing by the Rectorate. “It is indispensable that the UP Rectorate allocate special annual funds for publication in UP, which would ensure a continuity of publication of research and scientific works, which are one of the objectives of higher education”, says Ilazi. But this journal mainly includes areas of sociology and philosphy, whereas other departments (Psychology, Political Sciences, cultural Ethnology and Anthropology) do not have scientific journals. The Department of History used to publish the journal “Buletini”, but it no longer is being published. According to professor Muhamet Shala, who is the contact person, this journal is not being published because there is no interest of the academic staff to publish it. “Buletini Journal has published more than 2 editions, but for the last five years it is not being published. Now we are making efforts to publish it again. There are several reasons for this, one being material, but also the lack of interest by professors to publish this journal. It has been simply left aside through negligence. I believe that during this year it will start being published again”, says Mala.

The Faculty of Education consists of ten programs, and publishes only one journal “Edukologjia”, which began its publication in 2001. Professor Begzad Baliu, the contact person of this journal, says that they are making efforts to reach an agreement with a university in Canada to bolster the quality of this journal, since this journal is not present in international scientific publications.

"We are expecting to equip this journal with ISSN code, because it had a code given by the National Library, but it has no international code”, says Baliu.

The Faculty of Philology has nine departments, and publishes the journal “Filologji”, the journal with annual Publications of the Seminary on language, Albanian literature and culture and the Journal “Media” which began being published since 2009. All of these three journals are published annually, but are not translated in another language and are not present in the international sphere.

The Faculty of Law has eight departments and published the journal “E Drejta”. This journal is published four times a year. According to professor Qerim Qerimi, the main distribution of the Journal is limited to the space of the Faculty. “Outside the university space, copies of this journal are constantly forwarded to universities which provide studies in Albanian language outside of the Republic of Kosovo, especially in Tirana and Tetova”, says Qerimi.

As regards the level of scientific research, Dukagjin Pupovci from KEC says that there is no financial support for scientific research and that the research-scientific work is done individually. “The scientific research work is supported very little in Kosovo, and compared to other universities, it is a low volume of scientific research. The financing of scientific-research work is almost zero”, says Pupovci.

They don’t deliver lectures regularly, but still receive full salaries

A phenomenon which has followed UP throughout these years is the absence of professors in lectures. Preportr, during this research, has carried out a simple survey with students of Faculties of Philosophy, Law and Economics, which resulted that professors who do not come at all or are otherwise late for lectures are the ones keeping political and governmental posts. Instead, their assistants deliver the lectures and do the exams.

But this phenomenon is nothing new, since the research of previous years show that professors engaged in politics do not deliver lectures regularly, while individual discussions are out of the question. The lack of respect of lecture schedules, exams, consultations, lack respect of syllables by professors, lack of implementation of contemporary methods of teaching and evaluation, non-objective evaluation of students by professors, violations by the academic staff mentioned in the monitoring report of UP by the Student Parliament (SP). This report drafted after the research of the situation in UP about the period October 2010 – February 2011, a copy of which was obtained by “Zeri” confirms that in academic units of UP, students are forced to buy the books of professors, there is widespread vengeance of professors during evaluation, improper behavior of professors, beginning by contempt to insults and threats.

The report mentions that a part of the professors do not deliver the lectures regularly, and this is reported to happen usually with professors who hold other working posts as well, in state institutions where they have public functions, in private colleges, a part of them employ assistants, and some professors join 2-3 groups for a lecture because the professor does not have time.

Despite this fact, the Rectorate of UP continues to “award” these professors for their abscences, since they get paid in full even for hours unattended. This is also confirmed by the Office of the Audotiry General in the last report published in June 2013. This report  recommends to the rectorate to apply monitoring controls on the process of lecturing and compensation of salaries and wages for services not performed.

"In 8 tested cases of lecturers with regular contracts worth 105,488 euro, there were abscences of lecturers in the teaching process. For the hours not delivered by these lecturers, according to the regulation on personal income in the University of Prishtina.1/126 the personnel absent in the teaching process should have been sanctioned with a salary deduction of 50 euros per hour lost, 25 euros per hour by assistants. The deduction to have been withheld, by our calculations, is 10,968 euro", says the report.

These remarks by ZAP were issued also in 2011, but they were never taken into account. "We have tested 12 cases on attendance of lectures by the Academic Staff and the realization of payments pursuant to contracts. In three cases, the payment was delivered to lecturers, although they did not fulfill the norm foreseen by the contract.

This report also points out that the majority of the academic personnel possess contracts above the norm and honorary contracts, which provides for the number of additional hours to be realized. “From 25 individual payments tested in the total amount of 82,995 euro, we have noticed that they have been compensated without evidence on fulfilling the requirements of lectures and honorary norms in the value of 11,248 euro".

The “parachutist” phenomenon continues"

UP has continually seen an unequal competition between candidates to become a student. A considerable number of students throughout the years have been admitted without any criteria. This contingent of students is usually admitted after the deadline through political influence and begin their studies at the end of the first semester.

Recently, during academic year 2012-2013, Prishtina University admitted around 150 students in the field of political sciences in violation of registration criteria, with some of them appearing in the administration list only from March. JNK Newspaper has reported that 144 more students were admitted in the Department of Political Sciences in the Faculty of Philosophy during the academic year 2012-2013. The registration of around 150 additional students is illegal because there was no public call published by UP. Apart from four students admitted in March, thirty seven students appear to have been registered during dates between 9-14 January 2013, after the end of the first semester.

The issue of lectures is something that Arben Hajrullahu, professor in Department of Political Sciences has also dealt with. He has said for Preportr that this has been going on for years and that this was the reason for his withdrawal from the admission process in this department.

"I will mention a case, when in end of December 2010 in the Department of Political Sciences we admitted around 30-50 new students. The reaction was that these students could not commence the studies offered by me together with those who had begun at the beginning of the semester, October. I also explained that I have nothing personal with students admitted beyond the deadline or regulations, but I also said that they would have to attend additional lectures, since the regular lectures had already begun two months earlier. And the reaction of most students admitted beyond deadlines or regulations was that they were having problems only with me and that they have the support of the government and people there to commence the studies in this manner and in this time period ", said Hajrullahu.

Nontransparent Rectorate

During the realization of this research, Preportr aimed at also doing a monitoring of the academic qualifications and scientific works of professors lecturing in UP. Although the request for access to public documents in the Rectorate was sent (24.05.2013), this institution never allowed us access to these documents, despite having waited for over 5 months and despite the regular contacts throughout this period.

Also, for all issues cited in this research, Preportr has requested an interview with Ibrahim Gashi, the rector of Prishtina University “Hasan Prishtina”, but this was not made possible due to justification that the rector has a loaded agenda.