The public needs to have complete answers

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes yesterday’s publicly expressed indications by the management of University of Montenegro (UoM) that it is starting to respect the law and save money by hiring its own staff and reduce hiring visiting professors, as well as double employment. It is the fact that UoM produced a big number of MA and PhD alumni in the last ten years, so it is expected from that institution to engage them in its work, which would at the same time accomplish the mission of the UoM itself and open up some space for the army of highly educated but unemployed young citizens of Montenegro to build their careers at the UoM on the basis of clear criteria and academic merits.

We agree with the assessment of the rector of UoM that “hiring visiting professors is accompanied by bigger expenditures that exceed the payment of the fees”. However, we are concerned that the rector thinks automatically on visiting professors from abroad. That way, he shows that the capacities built by UoM and those citizens who graduated from prestigious universities around the world, and who want to apply their knowledge in Montenegro, are ignored in advance.

We appreciate the rector’s acknowledgment that they have finally agreed that the opinion of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro on hiring visiting professors on double employment in two countries is legally untenable, as it was also indicated by prominent lawyers at different public meetings organized by CCE and CEMI in the past. That act, which is not a result of thorough checks of the conditions by the competent inspection and judicial authorities, does not have grounding in the law and does not carry weight, and from its beginning the management of UoM was warned about it. Acting upon that act caused damage to UoM for which someone will have to be accountable – in solidarity with the one who issued that legally unfounded act or independently.

Furthermore, CCE welcomes that UoM finally ends the practice of hiring on employment contract “already employed professors who have permanent job in some other institution. The contract won’t be signed until professors, who were double employed, decide in which institution they want to have a permanent job”, because even the layman knows that one person cannot be in two countries at the same time doing the same job. So what is physically impossible cannot be legally possible because law deals with real life by trying to organize it. This is a great success of CCE, as well as of CEMI, who were pointing out at unsustainability and illegality of that act for years.

There are three more important questions left for the rector concerning this issue:
• Is the practice of that kind of employment in the case of professor Vukadinović over, if not when will that happen?
• How many more “Vukadinović” and “Bešić” are there at UoM?
• Did they start the procedures of determining responsibility for these kinds of signed contracts in contrast to already well-known documentation to UoM management, which indicated that those things should not have happened?

Anyway, it is strange that rector, who acknowledged earlier existence of double employment on contract and harmfulness of the opinion of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare on this issue, does not see that the budget was seriously damaged at least until the moment when UoM decided to stop with further practice of hiring on that basis, and the damage is seen via payments of all unnecessary benefits of these professors, that are not small. Also, the domestic unemployed qualified staff was damaged the most because they did not have a chance to develop themselves in academic and professional sense, as well as students.

At the end, because of too long silence from the side of UoM concerning this issue, competent authorities will be in charge of establishing irregularities and damage created, while CCE will continue to point out at omissions in work of UoM, firstly by sending constructive reports and preventive appeals to them, as they did by now. If UM ignores them, which was the case most of the times, CCE will present those problems to interested public and use other institutions of the system in order to protect state university from those who manage it arbitrarily and where public is subordinated to private interest.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Programme Coordinator