Accreditation Agency refuses to accredit lousy PhD programs

This article originally appeared on Kosovo 2.0. Available here in English, Albanian, and Serbian. 

In today’s Koha Ditore, Salie Gajtani reports on the Kosovo Accreditation Agency’s recent refusals of applications for new doctoral and masters programs at the University of Prishtina (which has recently and inexplicably been renamed “Hasan Prishtina University”), as well as at a few other private colleges.

It’s become a badge of honor (and an ongoing quest) for private-sector institutions to obtain the exalted title of “university”; in 2008, a Ministry of Education decision forced the majority of Kosovo’s private universities to re-brand themselves as “colleges.” Basically, if you don’t have adequate staff and resources to support doctoral studies, you cannot call yourself a university. That doesn’t stop Kosovo’s colleges from trying, though, with applications that include plagiarized syllabi, outdated reading material, and the enlisting of already-overworked professors to oversee entire postgraduate programs.

It has to be fun to work as an Accreditation Agency inspector. Whenever a college wants to accredit a new program, the agency sends over an inspection team of international and local experts to evaluate the quality of the proposal. The website of the Accreditation Agency hosts the majority of its reports online, and some of the commentary is quite damning — but also hilarious, in a sad, sad way.

Some choice comments from last year’s applications for program accreditation include:

“Two of the course descriptions are directly plagiarized. The course description of ‘English for Academics: Note Taking’ is from the Australian Catholic University website, where the course is called ‘English for Academic Purposes: Direct Entry (12
Weeks).’ The plagiarized passage may be found at: [URL follows]…”

“The recommended reading material is out of date…Some of the material is dated as far back as the 1970s and therefore unlikely to be relevant.”

“We find it somewhat puzzling that some professors deliver numerous courses in a wide range of disciplines (even as high as six per program)… the international standard is that each faculty member specializes in a limited number (usually one, or at most two or three) of areas of specialization (e.g., marketing, finance, informatics, economics, etc.). This is the only way to keep up with recent developments in the discipline and also to be able to make original contributions to science…”

“Students are not participating in scientific research.”

“…course descriptions are copied directly from the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics’ web page, together with remarks for students in Slovenian.”

“The books in the university library… are [mainly] dilapidated and useless for modern education.”

“…the learning outcomes are not on a university level.” Example of one of the learning outcomes in question: “… teach students how to properly write a simple letter, report, essay, lecture…”

The above comments are written by professors and evaluators, brought in from abroad specifically for the (fun, sad) task of examining Kosovo’s institutions of higher education. The reports paint a depressing picture, and should be required reading for Kosovo’s high school graduates. It’s strange that the Accreditation Agency would allow such a high number of not-so-great colleges and university campuses to exist in the first place, but at least they’re putting their foot down on occasion.

For a full list of last year’s accreditation reports (beware: cringe-worthy criticisms abound), check out the Accreditation Agency website by clicking here.

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