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Adventures in Macedonia (Part II) April 3, 2013

Posted by etschneider in Students, Teaching.
Tags: , , ,

I continue the series of posts based on the experience I got in Macedonia. It is important to notice that these series of posts is only about my last three months at the University for Information Science & Technology in Ohrid.

Ancient theater of Ohrid, Oil "façon"

Part II of the Interview:

Miroslava Simonovska (MS): many people claim that the direction of the University has changed from international to local. Did you notice any irregularities in the operation of the University? If so, please tell us what has changed.

Etienne Schneider (ES): First, I was told that some lectures were held in Macedonian, and some local TV reported that too. Then, I noticed, as did Kanal5 – a Macedonian TV channel – that some Macedonian professors are listed with different "country of origin" on the University website: Norway, USA and France to be exact. If those professors previously worked in those countries, this is a very poor choice of words, to say the least. Finally, during Summer 2011, I noticed several new pages of the University’s website written only in Macedonian. I notified the webmaster and some changes were made, but not all of them and I never received any answer.


MS: Did the university employ staff (professors and other employees) inappropriately? For example people without diplomas?

ES: It is difficult to say. I was asked to submit my diplomas before starting to work. The administration received them in early June 2010 and I started working on September 1st. One side of the story asserted that the American professor did not submit his diploma whereas another claims he was hired as a consultant and that the rules  differ in such a case.
I discussed with Professor Peter Bock about that kind of issue. He confirmed that the University plan approved in 2008 did not require a visiting professor to own a doctorate. The purpose of this is, as it is in many American universities, to acknowledge that chosen industry experts have the bona fides to be considered for faculty positions as professors.


MS: There was an academic inspection at UIST few weeks ago. A few days before that inspection you said you had a private meeting with Mister S., advisor to Rector D. What did you talk about? What did he say?

ES: That is not entirely correct. I had a very short conversation with this person on the day of the inspection. I asked to talk to the inspector, but my request was denied. As I left the room, Mister S. added that both he and his wife had the intention to sue me for spreading rumours and erroneous information about them. He refused to tell me more and just added: "You will see."


MS: Why were you fired? Was that legal decision?

ES: The full extend of the information I was given is in the letter published by Fokus. It basically states three reasons:
1. I don’t have a work permit.
2. The university was not satisfied with my work.
3. My two-year contract was not deemed valid because of budget constraints.
Here are my comments:
1. Getting a work permit is the duty of the employer. Even if it was true, I could not be held accountable for this. Moreover I was told that my working permit was valid until the expiry date of my passport (i.e. April 2012 or so).
2.  I was never given any negative feedback about my work, I still am unaware of those critics. According to a previous article in Fokus, some people were fired for insufficient English skills. The interview recorded by Kanal5 showed that some classes are now held in Macedonian instead.
3. I cannot comment on the financial state of the university. My contract was signed by both parties and represent a legal obligation.


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