New EU project – EUFORIA-Entrepreneurial Universities for Industry Alliances

This project aims to establish and develop links between universities an enterprises in order to enhance teaching and learning, upgrade the curricula in line with the needs of enterprises and improve the financial sustainability of HEIs in Kosovo

Specific objectives.

  1. Establishing bilateral links between partner country HEIs and enterprises on a formal basis to arrange representation of enterprises on university committees and placements for staff and students
  2. Improving teaching and learning methods by developing and using case studies based on partner firms’ specific experiences
  3. Conducting surveys of companies and using feedback on student placements to identify skills and knowledge shortages of university students and graduates and upgrading the curricula by embedding these skills, thus enhancing the employability of graduates
  4. Enhancing the financial sustainability of partner country HEIs by enabling them to develop additional sources of income (e.g., by organising training courses and offering services to companies based on their identified needs)
  5. Setting up advice centres for SMEs run by staff and postgraduate students

Summary

This project aims to establish and develop links between universities and enterprises in order to enhance teaching and learning, upgrade the curricula in line with the needs of enterprises and improve the financial sustainability of HEIs in Kosovo.

Enterprise managers will be appointed to a number of university committees as the voice of the private sector to help the universities design programmes of study in line with the needs of enterprises and the labour market. Universities will send a number of their lecturers to companies for a short placement period to observe the working of the company and, in consultation with company managers, identify challenges facing them. The lecturers will use their knowledge of the companies and insights they have gained to formulate case studies for their subjects. Experienced EU partners will assist the Kosovar lecturers to write case studies which case be used in the classroom. The use of case studies, particularly those based on Kosovar companies, is rather unusual in Kosovo and will require a change in teaching, learning and assessment strategy. It will have a profound impact on students’ learning experience and their preparation for the labour market.

The project will also identify the knowledge and skill gap in university graduates through a Survey of 50 largest companies in Kosovo. The results of the Survey will be used by universities to revise their curricula in order to embed in their programmes the knowledge and skills which are required by enterprises. EU partners will support the Kosovar colleagues in enhancing their curricula by employability skills on the basis of their own experiences.

The universities will, through staff visits and the Survey, identify the training and other needs of enterprises and will offer to provide these services to companies. In particular they will offer training courses to company employees organised jointly with EU partners, who will also provide updating visits for some of the teaching staff of Kosovar institutions. The provision of these services will improve the financial sustainability of Kosovar universities.

Finally, universities will establish SME advice centres who would work with SMEs to identify their specific problems and provide appropriate advice for them.

Partners in EU: Staffordshire (Coordinator), Nottingham Trent, Ancona and Zagreb universities and Munich University of Applied Sciences

Partners in Kosovo: Universities of Prishtina, Peja, Gjakova, Gjilan and Riinvest College and four SMEs

Coordinator: Prof Iraj Hashi (Business School)

Starting date: 15 October 2015

Professor Iraj Hashi awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit for Kosovo

Professor Iraj Hashi was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit in the list of honours awarded on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of Kosovo’s Independence on 17th February 2015. The Medal of Merit is awarded to people who have contributed to Kosovo society in specific fields such as education and science.

The nomination for this Award was made by a group of staff from the Faculty of Economics, University of Prishtina and the Central Bank of Kosovo, including some of the former and current PhD students of Staffordshire University.

The Award is in recognition of Professor Hashi’s work with various universities and research institutions in Kosovo which has resulted in improvements in the quality of academic programmes in economics, business and management and building the capacity of educational and research institutions in Kosovo.

Professor Irah Hashi (left) and the Prime Minister Prof Isa Mustafa

Professor Irah Hashi (left) and the Prime Minister Prof Isa Mustafa

Professor Hashi was the coordinator of three large scale EU funded Tempus projects and a scholarship programme jointly funded by Staffordshire University and the Open Society Foundation (and until 2010 also by the UK Government’s Chevening Programme).

Through these programmes a large number of Kosovar academics were provided with updating opportunities to learn about the latest developments in their subject area as well as teaching, learning and assessment methods in various EU universities. A large number of young university graduates were also offered the opportunity to continue their education towards Masters or PhD degrees in Economics at SU. These graduates, all of whom have returned to Kosovo, are now working in universities,  research institutions, the Central Bank, commercial banks and various government ministries, contributing to the development of their country (two of these graduates are now serving as Minister of Finance and Minister of Trade and Industry, and one of them is the Chief of the Cabinet and Advisor to the Prime Minister).

Staffordshire University graduates take ministerial positions in Kosovo

Staffordshire University economists have been working in the Balkans for over 20 years to assist with the reconstruction of those economies.  This has involved economics Masters and PhD training for several hundred people. Professors Iraj Hashi, Geoff Pugh, Jean Mangan and Nick Adnett have been the main staff involved with this work, and more recently Dr Mehtap Hisarciklilar and Dr Ian Jackson. Funding to support this work has come from the Open Society Foundation and Chevening Scholarships.

Two Staffordshire University graduates have recently been promoted to the cabinet rank in Kosovo’s new Government.

Dr. Avdullah Hoti, who completed his MSc in Economics for Business Analysis in 2002 and PhD in Economics in 2007, has been given the top economic post in the cabinet, the Minister of Finance. After the completion of his PhD, Dr. Hoti returned to Kosovo to work at the University of Prishtina where he is now an Associate Professor of Economics. For four years up to 2013, he was the Deputy Mayor of Prishtina, Kosovo’s capital city.

Dr. Avdullah Hoti

Dr. Avdullah Hoti, Minister of Finance, Kosovo

His period of study at Staffordshire and his PhD, which focused on Kosovo’s labour market, have given him the right training and preparation for one of the most important posts in the cabinet. He says, ‘I know that I have taken a huge responsibility and I will do my best’ to meet the expectations of the electorate.

Dr. Hoti is followed by Dr. Hykmete Bajrami, who completed her MSc in Economics for Business Analysis in 2003. She also went back to Kosovo after completing her Masters degree and joined the Faculty of Economics at the University of Prishtina as an assistant. She completed her PhD at the University of Prishtina and is now Assistant Professor of Marketing there. Since 2010 she has been a Member of the Kosovo
Assembly (the Parliament) and active on economics and business related issues. She has been appointed to the second economic position in the cabinet, the Minister for Trade and Industry.

 Dr. Hykmete Bajrami,  Minister for Trade and Industry, Kosovo

Dr. Hykmete Bajrami Minister for Trade and Industry, Kosovo

Both Avdullah and Hykmete were recipients of the Open Society Foundation- Staffordshire University scholarship during their studies in Stoke. They follow an earlier Staffordshire graduate, Dr. Fatmir Besimi, who has been a Minister in the Government of Macedonia in 2007. He is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration.

 Dr. Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration, Kosovo

Dr. Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Integration, Kosovo

Kosovo’s general elections in June 2014 did not give any party a majority control and following months of negotiations, the new Government was formed on 8th December with the LDK leader, Professor Isa Mustafa (himself a long time partner with the Centre for Research on Emerging Economies at the Business School), becoming Kosovo’s new Prime Minister and immediately announcing his cabinet which included the two SU graduates.
The cabinet was confirmed by the Assembly and the Ministers have now started their work. We wish them success.