Tirana, 9 December 2020 – Exactly two years after the students’ protest in Albania, which ended after numerous promises made by the Albanian Government, this 9th December, students, professors and Members of the Parliament, come together to share their concern that so far none of the promises have been kept and the situation in the public universities continues to remain the same.
In the online Forum co-organized by CRCA and ANYN, on the International Anti-Corruption Day and within the framework of the Week of Integrity in Albania, student-senators, professors, and members of the Albanian Parliament faced each other in an open debate on the situation of the tertiary education.
The students shared a grim and very disturbing reality regarding the situation of public universities in Albania. Their stories which evidenced corruption in higher education as well as the difficult learning situation made by distance learning.
Students stated that “Corruption in universities continues! The Student Card does not work, no vetting of professors was carried out on the teaching staff, while universities are being used by politics for corrupted public procurement, political employments, and political propaganda. Distance learning is almost a failure, as in other cities of Albania, except Tirana, lack Internet or electricity, while wide-spread poverty among students doesn’t helped the situation. Many Universities don’t have the required laboratories. Professors continue to force purchases of their personal books or literature, while university audit reports have revealed that public money is misused. "Student councils are not the voice of young people but have been elected and adapted to political forums of political parties, which carry out only propaganda."
In addition to students, politicians and professors also brought their approaches regarding the situation of higher education. MP Rudina Hajdari stated that: "Politics in Albania has already created an ugly model in which even students can advance in universities only thanks to political commitment and not at all based on their merit or skills." While stating that the promises given after the protests of students two years ago were thrown, Hajdari underlined that he feels shocked by the high level of corruption perceived by students in higher education. According to her, 90% of students in Albania have admitted that universities have a very high level of corruption, above the average level and that the Albanian auditoriums are already politicized.
On the other hand, Nora Malaj, a previous vice-minister of education and a human rights activist, emphasized the fact that: "The government is seriously violating the current law on higher education with the obligation to attend distance learning by paying the same fees." Malaj also stressed one of the essential points in terms of higher education, that of increasing the budget by 5%. A promise that was declared for 2020 and that it remains unfulfilled.
Professors shared their concern that the universities have not become fully representatives of the tertiary education, but they have remained more of an extension of high schools. Merita Poni, a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, stressed the fact that the complete lack of scientific research has turned Albanian universities into schools where students continue their education after high school. "These schools, because they cannot be called universities, are not at the required academic level and above all politicians and the Government, continue to lie about university campuses, about conditions in universities, about the possibility of attending school by students with special needs, significant shortages of basic services in these UNIs and many others "- declared Poni.
The Forum was organized by CRCA and ANYN Albania, in the framework of the International Youth Day in the country, International Day against Corruption and Week the of Integrity, aiming to identify and address the concerns of students on the situation of higher education.
Approximately 115,000 students attend public universities in Albania. The latest reports show large discontent of students towards their higher education and employment opportunities.