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University of Prishtina 
                                                 Universitas Studiorum Prishtiniensis 
                                                 Tel.:  ++381-38-35567 
                                                 Fax:  ++381-38-30554 
                                                 e-mail:  up@uni-pr.edu 

Fact-finding visit to University of Prishtina by ATF
Prishtina Working Group 22-25 July 1999

10 Conseil Général - CH-1211 Genève 4 - Tél.+41
                 22 3292251/2644 - Fax 3292821



At its meeting of 28 June, the CRE Board decided that the mandate of its Academic Task Force (ATF) should be extended to include a number of other universities in the region of south-east Europe. As a first step in this process, the CRE has therefore invited a limited number of its member universities and close partners to join the Prishtina Working Group. In particular, the Council of Europe and its Higher Education and Research Committee (CC-HER) was invited to participate in and co-sponsor the Working Group.

The CRE Board has made it clear that any cooperation with the University of Prishtina is conditional on the re-opening of this University as a single, inclusive institution, open to all students and staff members, irrespective of ethnic, religious, linguistic or other cultural backgrounds.

A fact-finding visit to the University of Prishtina by this Working Group was therefore organised from 22-25 July 1999, with four main aims:

- to visit the university and meet as wide a variety as possible of staff and students;
- to get a clear picture of their priority needs, in order to assist them in re-opening the university at the start of the 1999-2000 academic year;
- to use the results of the visit to inform the wider European academic community of these needs;
- to ensure optimal coordination between all possible actors from the outset.

Please see the attached list of participants from the ATF Prishtina Working Group at this meeting. CRE is grateful to the World University Service (WUS) Austria office in Prishtina, led by Mr. Elmar Pichl, for its excellent logistical support before and during the visit. It is also grateful to the OSCE office in Prishtina which provided essential transport between Skopje and Prishtina for the Working Group.

    Meetings with the Kosovo academic community

The Working Group met Rector Zejnel Kelmendi and 25 members of the University of Prishtina, mostly senior members of the academic staff (vice-rectors, deans, vice-deans, etc), but also representatives of the administrative staff and students, including members of the three technical commissions established to promote reconstruction, coordination and international relations, and quality management. Also present at the meeting was a officer from the Kosovo office of the Open Society Fund, Mr. Isa Elezaj.

Despite invitations through the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and information to the Yugoslav Conference of Rectors, the Working Group was unable to meet any Serbian representatives of the academic community in Kosovo.

Rector Kelmendi gave a brief account of the University of Prishtina since its foundation in 1970 to the present day, and informed the Working Group of his desire to see the University play a central role in society, promoting economic and cultural development, and open both internally and externally to change and new ideas. He stressed the need for the University to be open to all ethnic groups, and for the coming together of these groups to be as human as possible.

The Working Group visited a number of Faculties and university buildings in Prishtina, including the Faculty of Economics where most of our meetings took place, the Faculties of Philology and Philosophy, the Technical Faculty, the Faculty of Agriculture and part of the University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine. The Working Group also visited the Student Centre, where it stayed, and the National and University Library. The Rectorate is currently under KFOR supervision and not accessible.

For logistical reasons, it was not feasible to visit the seven specialised Higher Schools of the University of Prishtina which are decentralised throughout the territory of Kosovo. These seven centres, four of which are teacher training colleges, should nevertheless be considered as an integral part of the University of Prishtina and as essential elements of the higher education system in Kosovo.
Current situation

Although the current situation is still somewhat unclear, it is expected that nearly one thousand teaching and administrative staff will return to the university for the academic year 1999-2000, along with nearly 17,000 students. Based on previous experience, around 6,000 of these students are likely to study on a part-time basis. It is intended to re-start courses on 2 August in order to complete the 1998-1999 academic year which was interrupted by war, and for the new semester to start in October.

While most of these buildings visited by the Working Group have suffered little serious structural damage, they have however been for the most part emptied of all furniture, equipment and books, and the electrical and other installations severely damaged. Many doors and windows need replacement. Of these buildings, the Faculty of Agriculture is alone in suffering serious structural damage, since it is close to a building hit during the NATO air strikes. The National and University Library has lost part of its stock of books and is suffering from poor maintenance but is otherwise intact. Repair work has started at the student centre, but the dormitories and the canteens need urgent attention if students are to be able to return fully in October.

The current post-war economic situation means that both staff and students are in a very precarious position. Many must now make substantial personal investment in repairing or rebuilding their own houses, and the staff have not been paid since the start of the war. Previous sources of funding no longer exist, and the students are unable to afford the real costs of education. This situation poses an immediate threat to the survival of higher education in Kosovo.
Emergency needs

Representatives of the University of Prishtina's technical commission for reconstruction presented a written report to the Working Group on the post-war situation at the University. This report contains initial estimates of emergency needs for the repairing of buildings and for basic teaching equipment and furniture, as well as a general longer term perspective on the need for laboratories and special teaching equipment. The estimates for emergency repairs amount to slightly over 4 million DEM, and for emergency equipment and furniture a further 4.8 million DEM. The estimates for the longer term needs for laboratories and teaching rooms came to 21 million DEM.

Written reports concerning the Faculties of Economics, Law and Medicine were also distributed to the Working Group. These reports contain background information about structures and organisation, and include lists of the most urgent needs. Reports concerning the other Faculties have also been prepared but are not yet available in English - these will be sent to the CRE at the earliest possible moment, and will be available on the CRE and WUS Austria websites (http://www.unige.ch/cre and http://www.wus-austria.org/kosovo/index.htm ).

As noted above, there are also urgent financial needs for staff salaries and student support. The monthly salary of a full professor before the war was 300 DEM, financed through the unofficial system, but this was below the official levels for public employees. The estimated total cost of staff salaries per month now in the post-war situation is unclear. Basic student support of 150 DEM for 6,000 students per month to assist with accommodation and essential living expenses amounts to 900,000 DEM per month.

Apart from these physical and material needs related to the reconstruction process, representatives of the University also expressed needs in the following areas:

- the possibility of receiving visiting professors and experts, to assist with teaching but also to help redesign curricula and laboratories
- the possibility to visit other universities, to gain experience of other techniques and structures
- to be included in European networks
- to receive help with the transition process, which has been taking place since 1989 in other central and eastern European countries but which has not yet begun in Kosovo.

    Meetings with the International Community

United Nations

The Working Group met with Dr. Ramachandran, Chair of the Joint Civil Commission for Education (JCCE) within the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and as such the most senior international representative responsible for the education sector in Kosovo. The JCCE includes members of both sides of the Kosovo academic community, as well as a UNESCO representative. The Working Group's meeting was held in the presence of representatives of the European Commission's Task Force Kosovo, the OSCE, the Austrian Embassy and Rector Kelmendi.

Dr. Ramachandran stressed the two basic principles which will guide his work, which are the basic right to education and a non-discriminatory approach. He underlined that the challenge now faced was not just reconstruction, but "construction", and that a practical approach was needed to proceed from the current situation in order to bring about normalisation, i.e. to bring students back as fast as possible to their places of learning.

It is UNMIK's intention to ensure that:

- an integrated system exists, based on easy access and no exclusion, so that the university can indeed be multi-ethnic
- all students can return to the University of Prishtina by 15 October 1999
- catch-up courses start in August 1999
- (re)construction will include both physical and academic aspects.

In order to achieve these goals, Dr. Ramachandran proposed that the JCCE establish a number of working groups, one of which would focus on Higher Education, and which would involve those actors present on the ground.

Touching on the language issue, Dr. Ramachandran underlined the right to education in the student's own language, but insisted on the need for education in other international languages also. Practical and cost-effective parameters must be taken into account in this highly sensitive issue, and the participation of stakeholders will be crucial. He suggested that a special JCCE working group on this issue be established.

Dr. Ramachandran stated that an interim arrangement of three months is needed to get the system moving, during which an agreement on the legal status of the university will be sought. A central element of this agreement would be the option of an interim international rector for the University of Prishtina, with vice-rectors from each side of the Kosovo academic community. This would help ensure both the European dimension of the University as well as its diverse Kosovo traditions. There is no full agreement on this issue at present, but a solution should be sought based on broad consensus, and improvements can be made as time goes on. Such an agreement will provide the basis for all future collaboration by governmental and non-governmental bodies, and the CRE Working Group has therefore offered its assistance to UNMIK in this context, including in the search for international staff.

To follow after the interim arrangement, Dr. Ramachandran proposed a transitional period of one year, using the main elements of the 1990 university legislation as a temporary legal basis. This transitional period would focus on the development of human resources and capacity-building, in order to facilitate the modernisation of teaching and learning at the University. The delegates of the Working Group offered their individual and collective expertise in this respect. UNMIK's longer-term goal is to establish an education authority for Kosovo with an enlarged role for the local institutions and persons. Teacher training will be given priority status in this longer-term perspective.

In response to information that the Austrian government had given a substantial amount of money to cover short-term needs for staff salaries, Dr. Ramachandran informed the Working Group that UNMIC was approaching the World Bank regarding this issue in the medium term. The Working Group signalled its intention to seek support from various European governments regarding financial support for students. It also underlined the need for any staff appointment procedures to be as open and transparent as possible, and for international participation in this process.

European Commission

Mr. Roy Dickinson and Mr. Dietmar Krissler, respectively Spokesperson and Education Expert for the European Commission's Task Force Kosovo on site, informed the meeting that the EU has been designated as responsible for physical reconstruction in Kosovo. As such, it will reactivate as fast as possible an existing project worth 4.4 million Euro, with the IMG (International Management Group - the specialised reconstruction agency of UNHCR) as contractor, for the emergency renovation and repair of university buildings, including the Student Centre, and the purchase of teaching material and equipment. The report from the University's Commission for Reconstruction provided an important first step in this direction. This project however cannot start without an agreement between UNMIK and the University regarding the legal status of the University, and the project itself must be re-assessed and the needs reviewed. Given these conditions, it is nevertheless hoped that the project can become operational before the end of the summer.

The Working Group welcomed the news regarding this project, and stressed the importance of quick implementation, since the buildings are crucial for the re-opening of the university in October. It is unlikely however that all the emergency needs of the University can be met through this project, and the Working Group will seek complementary funding, as well as approaching European universities for support with laboratory development and equipment.

    Outline of possible collaboration

The Working Group had a final working session with representatives of the University of Prishtina in order to provide feed-back from its meetings with UNMIK and the European Commission, and to discuss possible collaboration based on the needs identified.

There was considerable interest from the University of Prishtina regarding the role of UNMIK and the EU emergency repairs project, to which Dietmar Krissler of the EC's Task Force Kosovo replied.

Based on the preceding meetings and discussions, the members of the Working Group then made the following proposals for collaboration:

Council of Europe

Sjur Bergan, Head of Higher Education and Research, offered collaboration in the field of university organisation, particularly in legislative reform where the Council has important previous experience in other countries. UNMIK had already expressed interest in such collaboration. The possibility of including the University of Prishtina in the Council's "Democratic Citizenship" project was also mentioned.

German higher education

Michael Daxner informed participants that the HRK (German Rectors' Conference) and DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) have already applied for substantial financial support to their government, for activities which will not be restricted to Prishtina but would include other universities of south-east Europe. One of these activities would be sandwich-programmes for doctoral students. At the same time, efforts will be made to get a substantial German contribution for student support at the University of Prishtina.

Gerhard Duda of the HRK suggested that action by German higher education institutions would be directed to medium and long term programmes, and that the University of Jena and the Technical University of Freiberg had already expressed their support. German higher education institutions active in this area will be encouraged to use the CRE as a clearing house on the European level, in order to maximise coordination.

Austrian Government

Barbara Weitgruber reported that the Austrian Minister of Science and Transport had informed his colleagues in all EU and EFTA countries about the CRE Working Group and the present visit, and that the report of this visit would also go to all the EU and EFTA Ministers of Education.

She expressed concern regarding the student centre, and said that the Austrian Minister of Science and Transport could contact his fellow Ministers of Education regarding this topic. The Austrian Government has set aside 1 million DEM for the University of Prishtina, half of which has already been given by the Minister of Science and Transport for short-term support for staff salaries, while the other half will be spent according to further identified needs. A financial contribution for 2000 will also be negotiated.

University of Florence

Alberto L’Abate, representing Rector Paolo Blasi, spoke of the need to develop concrete follow-up action to the various formal bilateral accords which have been signed between Italian universities and the University of Prishtina. He mentioned the possibility of practical partnerships between Italian Faculties and their colleagues in Prishtina, and indicated potential Italian support for doctoral studies and books. Prof. L'Abate also mentioned that a sum of money, put aside by the Italian Government after the San Egidio-brokered Education Agreement of 1988, should now become quickly available. Prof. L’Abate will remain in Kosovo until 20 August to work with academic partners.

University of Graz

Rector Wolf Rauch, also Chairman of the Austrian Rectors' Conference, made the clear distinction between legal reconstruction (the role of UNMIK), physical reconstruction (the role of the EU) and academic reconstruction (the role of CRE and the universities of Europe). He indicated that the Austrian universities would concentrate their cooperation in the field of Humanities. Graz will also help with detailed actions at project level.

Walter Hoeflechner of the University of Graz reported on concrete needs which have been discussed with the Deans of Philology and Philosophy, including staff training, doctoral work (sandwich courses), literature and teaching materials. Visiting lecturers will support their Prishtina colleagues, particularly in the field of German studies.

University of Valencia

Vice-Rector Juli Pereto presented Rector Kelmendi with an invitation to attend the 52nd CRE Bi-Annual Conference, which will be hosted by the University of Valencia from 28-29 October 1999. He also informed the University of Prishtina of its being welcomed as an honorary member of the Institut Joan Lluis Vives consortium of 17 universities from the Catalan speaking regions of Spain, France and Andorra. This partnership reflects the specific interest of these universities in participating actively in the reconstruction process, in full coordination with CRE.

University of Leeds

Monica Llamazares, a student representative, reported on a project funded jointly by the University of Leeds and its students, in which 28 computers were donated and already delivered to the University of Prishtina. She noted that more equipment was on its way. She expressed the need to cooperate with the CRE.

World University Service (WUS) Austria

Wolfgang Benedek expressed support for the UNMIK-led local task force for higher education, as proposed by Dr. Ramachandran, as an important tool for on-site coordination. WUS will re-establish an Internet centre at the University of Prishtina, and cooperation between the departments of Law in Prishtina and Graz will result in a centre for human rights in Prishtina. Prof. Benedek expressed his intention to include the University of Prishtina in other projects being run by WUS in the region. WUS will maintain its clearing house function, with the financial support of the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

ESIB (The National Unions of Students in Europe)

Majna Klemencic, Director of ESIB, made a brief report of a seminar organised by ESIB with the students of the University of Prishtina during 22-24 July 1999. Students had examined the chances of studying abroad, but the vast majority preferred to remain in Kosovo to determine their role in the building of society there. A number of projects were proposed, such as setting up a placement service for part-time employment, the promotion of democracy, human rights and a student parliament, and ESIB assistance for the student elections at the University of Prishtina in October 1999. The students union of Prishtina will be treated as a member of ESIB, though it is not yet. ESIB will also support any action to raise funds for student subsistence.


Lewis Purser reminded the meeting that the CRE is an association of universities, and as such its greatest asset is intellectual. The greatest role CRE can play is in informing the European academic community of the situation at the University of Prishtina, and through its Academic Task Force facilitating and coordinating university cooperation. Together with the Council of Europe, CRE will also examine the possibility of offering financial support for a limited number of university experts who could help the University of Prishtina define its needs for laboratories and other resource-intensive equipment.

He mentioned the possibility of including the University of Prishtina in a number of regional and European disciplinary networks, such as medicine and economics, which would be of interest both in promoting curriculum development but also in gaining experience of other systems and structures.

Lewis Purser voiced CRE's desire to see the University of Prishtina become a positive model for Kosovo and the whole region of south-east-Europe. He stressed that all internal and external cooperation should therefore be a two-way process, with the University taking a leading role in determining its own development, while at the same time establishing extensive partnerships with other European academic bodies.

Reference was made to the recent Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999 on the European Space for Higher Education, signed by 30 Ministers of Education across Europe. This important strategic declaration specifically mentions the issues of recognition, degree cycles, credits and mobility, quality assurance and the European dimension of higher education. These issues should be incorporated from the beginning in this re-birth of the University of Prishtina.

CRE can also propose, in collaboration with other European bodies, to include the University of Prishtina in regional or European workshops and seminars in the fields of university leadership and strategic management and of international relations.

The need for a common language for international communication means that the Kosovo academic community, both staff and students, will need to develop skills in at least one major European language. UNESCO will be asked, through Michael Daxner, to take an active part in support for such skills development, as well as in the field of teacher training.


In his concluding remarks, Rector Kelmendi stressed the role of the CRE and the present Working Group in developing contacts between the University of Prishtina and other European institutions, and repeated his determination to create the conditions for an open democratic society with universities which contribute fully to this society. The University of Prishtina will cooperate with all institutions ready to collaborate in this goal.

Logistical arrangements

In order to facilitate communications (which at present are logistically difficult) and to ensure full coordination, it was recommended that during the initial period all communication from the European academic community to the University of Prishtina pass through the CRE (Lewis Purser), and from the University of Prishtina to the European academic community through the WUS office in Prishtina (Elmar Pichl).

The transport of persons and materials to Prishtina is also difficult at the moment. The CRE Working Group will endeavour to identify channels for effective, safe and cheap transport in the framework of its cooperation, so that people and materials can reach the University of Prishtina without unnecessary difficulty and delay.

Members of the CRE Prishtina Working Group who participated in the fact-finding visit:

CRE member universities

Prof. Dr Michael Daxner, CRE and CC-HER Board member, Former President, Carl von Ossietzky Universität, Oldenburg, Germany

Prof. Alberto L'Abate (Representative of Rector Paolo Blasi, CRE Board member), University of Florence, Italy

Prof. Dr Wolf Rauch, Rector, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria

Prof. Juli Pereto Magraner, Vice-Rector, University of Valencia, Spain, Representative of the university network IJLV

Prof. Dr Walter Hoeflechner, Dean, Faculty of Humanities, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria

Mr. Lewis Purser, Programme Officer, CRE Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland

International and national organisations

Mr Sjur Bergan, Head of Section, Higher Education and Research Section, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France

Mr. David Crosier, Administrative Assistant, Higher Education and Research Section, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France

Dr Gerhard Duda, HRK (German Rectors' Conference) International Division, Bonn, Germany

Mag. Barbara Weitgruber, Federal Ministry for Science and Transport, Vienna, Austria

Non-governmental organisations

Prof. Dr Wolfgang Benedek, Chairman, World University Service (WUS) Austrian Committee, Graz, Austria

Mr Elmar Pichl, Head of Office, WUS-Austria Prishtina, Kosovo

Ms Manja Klemencic, Director, ESIB The National Unions of Students in Europe, Head Office, Vienna, Austria

Mr Uros Vajgl, Executive Committee Member, ESIB The National Unions of Students in Europe, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Contact details:

Lewis Purser, Programme Officer, CRE, 10 Conseil Général, CH-1211 Geneva 4
Tel: +41-22-329.22.51, -329.26.46; Fax: +41-22-329.28.21; Email: purser@uni2a.unige.ch

Elmar Pichl, Head of Office, WUS-Austria Prishtina, Tel: +43-676-529.17.51 (mobile), Tel. and fax: +381-220-382.94.20; Email: pristina@wus-austria.org

Send E-Mail with questions and comments : office@wus-austria.org
Copyright © 1999 World University Service - Austrian committee
Supported by: The Austrian Federal Chancellery

Last updated: 30.07.99

Ongoing WUS Austria Activities in Kosova

After the return of the WUS-Austria regional office to Prishtina, WUS Austria continued with micro-projects which were conceptualized for the support of the teacher- and student-refugees in Tetovo/Macedonia.

These projects are financed by the project budget of the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

Especially from the side of the teachers this project-pillar gained much recognition as the projects enabled them already in their exile to make the first steps towards reconstruction of the university in Kosovo. Back to Prishtina, the topics of the projects were adapted to the new situation in Kosova.

Presently there are 52 Active Academic Projects in which about 180 teachers are involved. The majority of the projects are directed towards the reconstruction of the university and the restart of the university work.

Already three days after the reopening of the WUS Austria regional office in Prishtina, WUS was able to provide teachers and students of the university with a "Walk-In-Computer-Center" (in combination with a counseling center) with four computers; the rectorate received a donation of two computers and a printer.

With these facilities WUS Austria supplies the University of Prishtina – which has lost all of its technical equipment due to the causes of the war - with the minimum of infrastructure to enable it to get the reconstruction and the reorganization of the university started.

With the remaining financial resources from the project "University 2000" WUS will try to implement Small Support Projects (between DEM 5.000 and 7.000) to build up a minimum of infrastructure for the institutes of the universities which have been looted during the war.

The interior and equipment of the rooms which were furnished for language courses in Tetovo will be transferred to the Institute of Anatomy of the Medical Faculty of the University of Prishtina., which is presently confronted with a lack of furniture and equipment of any kind.

Additionally, the regional office of WUS Austria in Prishtina is engaged in the following activities:

- Elaboration of follow-up projects of the Austrian Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzeramt – Ostzusammenarbeit)
- Implementation of the support programs for the University of Prishtina initiated and financed by the Austrian Ministry of Science and Traffic
- Coordination of Support-Programs of other donors
- Counseling and know-how support for the University of Prishtina in different aspects
- Organization of the Academic Task Force Conference of the European Rectors Conference (CRE) in Prishtina on 23/24 July 1999
- Elaboration of Workshops (together with the university and Soros)
- Development of a re-settlement Program for "UCK-Students"  (together with IOM and KFOR)

Send E-Mail with questions and comments : office@wus-austria.org
Copyright © 1999 World University Service - Austrian committee
Supported by: The Austrian Federal Chancellery
Last updated: 30.07.99

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