Interview with Prof. Veselin Vukotic Rector of the University of Donja Gorica
Prof. Vukotic, is over all education in crisis? Yes, it is. That’s a crisis that affects the West also. I am among those who believe that the education crisis is more serious and has more consequences for the future of the West than today’s financial crisis. At the end of last year the European Commission issued a document - Rethinking Education strategy, as a set of recommendations for the development of higher education in the EU. Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president foreshadowed to us the Strategy during his visit to the UDG. The essence of this document is back to normality. Education should be released from the mechanistic approach and should be result-oriented! Everyone has a big talent but each of us should find a way to explore it - just by testing different features in reality, in my experience. The document insists on the universality of students, their education, language skills, skills acquisition, exploration, but all of it is related to acquiring knowledge in the fundamental disciplines of science. It seems that what we have already been working on in UDG is closely linked to the ideas from that document. How are these ideas implemented by UDG and do students accept them? It’s a long story and I have been writing a book about it. I would need to say that any compression of the answer could be misunderstood.
I think it’s crucial that it’s all about the student.The student as an individual - not as a mass of students. UDG students have a name - not a number. He is a person. I think I know no less than 80-90% of students of UDG, and there are now about 1800 of them. Every day I receive them as rector and chat with them, either in person or by e-mail, show them the opportunities that they have, chances, and I appreciate it when they share their experiences, observations on the process of teaching, on professors, relations with other students ... Only then, when you meet them will you realize how capable and talented young people are, and the good thing is that we adults still have not managed to ruin them. But sooner or later we will! So, the legitimacy for our work we pull out from the student – individual concept. Our approach is that the best university is the one whose students get jobs easily, make rapid progress in their careers, create, innovate and are socially responsible. Any misguided career, and everyone’s shipwreck in life, as any successful career and a happy and healthy life, at least in part is the product of colleges and universities. The responsibility of educational institutions will steadily increase. Or they will lose their meaning, as predicted by Friedrich Nietzsche.
Source: “Pobjeda” daily newspaper. june 20. 2013
What are the basic conditions that your university offers? The conditions are above the European average. Today, in the region and beyond, you do not have private universities with a building of 17,000 m2, with modern equipment and a functionally organized architectural structure. And these conditions relieve our students of any inferiority complex; they become aware that they are completely equal, even more, with their counterparts abroad. These conditions go along with the fact that at the UDG we have about 250 professors and lecturers from Montenegro, the region and all continents along with business people from the region and Europe; artists, athletes. Many lectures are in English thus creating confidence among the student and strengthening their sense of competence. How do you see the development of UDG in the next 5 to 10 years? We at UDG are able to do something serious. We have a chance! Indeed, we have created the conditions, we have ideas and opportunities are there ... but the question is - are we able to take advantage of them? The principles on which we established UDG open some new processes and give us hope. Of course, while navigating through a minefield, you need luck. And for new ideas Montenegro is a sort of a minefield.
As a model for our development I see the success of our sport. The results of Montenegrin sport give us hope: if we can do it in sports, why we can we not do it in other areas? If we had teachers who would be at the same level as some successful Montenegrin coaches in their European and global competition, and our students invested half of their time and effort compared to our successful athletes, I am sure that in Montenegro we would have one or more respectable universities. In this paradigm we see the development of UDG. It is not easy. But it is challenging. Is youth unemployment the product of discrepancies between profiles of studies and the labor market? Universities should not adapt to the current demand of the labor market. It is now history! They must assess what will be required in the future to understand megatrends of development. Famous Israeli statesman Shimon Peres said that in the military sector and education was not enough to cope with problems that emerge today. You need to be mature enough for tomorrow and its challenges! Very
few employers are investing in education, including their own education, and do not understand well the importance of education. Of course, there are some exceptions.. As for entrepreneurship and establishing companies by students in Montenegro, we understand that unemployment is the greatest obstacle to development. Neither Montenegro nor Europe can bear the cost of unemployment. Public debt is the result of in-depth cost that society must allocate for the unemployed through public funds, or through family budgets. Who will employ graduates, if they do not start their own businesses? The current model is upside down and needs to be changed. ■
About Prof. Veselin Vukotic Prof. Veselin Vukotic is an economist, professor and rector of the University of Donja Gorica. He was born in Piperi on August 5, 1949. Vukotic graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Podgorica in 1971, got his M.Sc. in 1977, and Ph.D. in 1980 at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade. He was a member of the Government of Montenegro and the Federal Government of Yugoslavia led by Ante Markovic, and vice president of the Privatization Council and is known as the founder of economic liberalism and free-market ideology in Montenegro. Vukotic is the founder of the private university UDG, a member of the International Society Mont Pelerin Society, founder of the traditional meeting “Economy and Transition”, founder of “Christmas debate on the economy.” The founder and editor of the international journal “Entrepreneurial Economy”, president of The Association of Economists of Montenegro, and president of the Euro-Atlantic Club of Montenegro.