Lack of meritocracy in issuing scientific titles

Lack of meritocracy in issuing scientific titles

IBNA Interview/Renowned Albanian scientist and researcher, Dr. Agim Vinca

Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti

Tetovo, February 20, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

In an interview given for IBNA news agency, the renowned university professor and prominent researcher of Albanian literature, Dr. Agim Vinca talks about the mass distribution of scientific titles through different corruptive ways and negative phenomena affecting higher education in FYR Macedonia. The professor from Struga, who lectures in several universities of the region, says that in case the reform of higher education is not conducted and if persons suspected of have been issued with scientific titles and masters in an illicit way are identified, then the future of young generations will be put at risk.

IBNA: There’s a missing debate over the issue of problematic scientific titles, but also about scientific works. How do you assess the situation in the country, especially in the higher education, where there are suspicions for the existence of such phenomena?

Dr. Vinca: It’s a wide spectrum of interrelated problems which consists on the so called academic life. The liberalization of higher education in the past two decades, the expansion of the network of public universities and the mass opening of private universities, led to many irregularities and abuses in issuing scientific grades. We can even call it a true chaotic situation. It’s a known fact that particular individuals who have power and other individuals are completing their university studies without attending these studies, they become magistrates and doctors of sciences through scientific works prepared by other people or by corrupting scientific mentors and members of the commission. It’s a known fact that people of a high profile have been issued with masters and PHDs in such ways, in Tirana, Sofia, Skopje, Tetovo and elsewhere. And this has been going on since the beginning of the ‘90s.

IBNA: What is the current situation in universities?

Dr. Vinca: The situation in our universities is alarming. The obtainment of scientific grades in an unlawful and abusive way is an aspect of the issue in question. The “Professor” title, which in the past needed a lot of university research, is now being obtained by people whose cultural formation leaves much to desire. In Pristina there are members of the Academy of Sciences who may be considered as illiterate, because they’re not even able to write a half a page without errors . In our universities, especially in Kosovo and Macedonia, there’s a direct intervention of political parties and state institutions in the recruitment policy, in the recruitment of people in faculties and there’s also unprecedented nepotism which is degrading on a daily basis.

IBNA: What must be done to change this situation?

Dr. Vinca: First of all, there must be a debate on this issue. We must openly speak about the negative phenomena in education. This will happen sooner or later, but the sooner it happens, the better it is. The evil has launched many metastases. We must openly speak, by using concrete arguments for all the problems and not conceal them. Concealing problems takes us nowhere and it only benefits the beneficiaries of these titles. There must be some kind of auditing in all universities: in faculties, rectorates, deaneries, departments, administration, etc. Problems must be identified and all cases of abuses with all study levels (Bachelor, Master, PHD) must be unveiled. Competent people must be hired, people who have moral credibility to offer a diagnosis over the situation and urgent measures must be taken. First of all, to reduce the negative trend, to stop this phenomenon and then to fully heal higher education, which is not at all an easy task.

IBNA: Do you think this situation will damage new generations and the future of the country?

Dr. Vinca: Of course, this is insanity and a disgrace which endangers the future of a nation, because no nation and no society in the world cannot prosper and build its own future without having a healthy education system. The moral crisis in society, at this time of a harsh economic and political transition, has also been reflected in the domain of education. We have an inflation of titles and diplomas, but a deficit of knowledge. We also have an unprecedented lack of criteria in assessing knowledge. /ibna/

Note: IBNA is open to include in the debate all parties interested in the quality of universities and meritocracy in obtaining scientific titles