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Kosovo

Overview

The entity known as “Kosovo” in Serbian and English, and “Kosova” in Albanian, was an autonomous province of the former Yugoslavia from 1974 to 1989. Following the repeal of Kosovo's autonomy and education laws around 1990, tensions between the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations of this area led to the existence of parallel Serb and Albanian government and civil structures throughout the 1990s. A decade of ethnic violence, death and destruction culminated in NATO military intervention and bombardment of the capital city of Prishtina in March 1999. Subsequently, on June 10, 1999, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution creating the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Thus Kosovo is currently a UN protectorate.

The current governing structure in Kosovo is based on the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government in Kosovo (UNMIK Resolution No. 221/9) signed on May 15, 2001. Within the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government formed in March 2002, the Ministria e Arsimit, e Shkencës dhe e Teknologjisë/Министарство образовања, науке и технологије is responsible for education.

Education

All levels of education are currently in a process of rebuilding, modernization and reform. The sequence of elementary and secondary education has been reorganized within the framework of the 12-year system (5+4+3), while higher education is being reformed according to principles of the Bologna Process with input from North American educators as well as European. As of the academic year 2003-04, the University of Prishtina offers degrees according to the European model of bachelor (3 years), master (2 years) and doctorate (3 years), in addition to diplomas with qualifications in teaching, dentistry, pharmacy and medicine. Private higher education institutions now exist as well, with a system of licensing by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology giving permission to award academic credentials. An accreditation system is also being developed.

Kosovo is still technically a part of Serbia, and that government is involved in discussions with the Albanian-led government of Kosovo and UNMIK about the future of Kosovo. Tensions continue to exist and there are still unresolved issues. This is especially evident in the northern Kosovo region in and around the city of Mitrovica, which borders on Serbia. Both the Kosovar Albanian-led Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Education and Sport of Serbia lay claim to public higher education facilities that exist here, for example. There is still much work to be done in resolving the future of Kosovo.

Notes about the recent history of the University of Prishtina, Kosovo, and recommendations to admissions officers regarding documentation

From shortly after its founding in 1970 until the late 1980s, the University of Prishtina served Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority by offering education in both Albanian and Serbian languages. Miloševic's rise to power in the late 1980s led to the repeal of the autonomy of the province of Kosovo and the civil rights of its Kosovar majority. As the new Serb-dominated government of Kosovo began to oust ethnic Albanians from their workplaces, schools and other public spheres, the Serbian minority section of the University of Prishtina expelled the ethnic Albanian majority section of the University. Despite the deaths and disappearances of administrators, instructors and students, the Albanian University of Prishtina continued to function by carrying on instruction in homes and other private facilities, although it was not “recognized” by the “official” Serb-led government.

In 1994 the “Government of Kosovo in exile”, which functioned parallel to the official government, approved a law on higher education that gave a legal foundation to the Albanian University of Prishtina. Serb government officials signed an agreement in 1996 with Albanian educators about the use of university facilities by Albanian students and faculty, but did not uphold the agreement. In the view of the Serb-led government, only the Serbian section of the University of Prishtina was the official University of Prishtina.

In 1999 the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was established and it in turn established an Administrative Department of Education and Science to manage matters related to education and science in Kosovo. Since that time, the University of Prishtina has received international recognition and support for rebuilding its programs. In March 2000, an international administrator was appointed for the University of Prishtina. The Provisional Institutions of Self-Government formed in March 2002 established a Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for Kosovo, and in May 2003 the head of UNMIK signed a new law on education. These legal measures and the support of the international community have strengthened the rebuilt Albanian-led University of Prishtina, but there is still a great deal of tension surrounding issues of Serb students' access to education in Kosovo, and which side, the Serbian or ethnic Albanian, “owns” the legal rights to “the” University of Prishtina.

Admissions officers and foreign credential evaluators should take note of these developments because there may be problems with academic documentation from the 1990s. Education officials in Kosovo have confirmed that the University of Prishtina did continue to hold instruction and examinations, and keep records, though possibly not on a consistent basis. AACRAO recommends that evaluators carefully compare the documents submitted by students from this era to the sample documents shown in this database, and also request verification of all documents from this era in Kosovo, to ensure that they are authentic and accurately reflect the University's records, such as they may be. The International Relations Office of the University of Prishtina welcomes verification requests and recommends that they be sent in English, along with copies of the documents in the original language, by email or fax using the following contact information below. Mail service may be slow and unreliable.

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