Centre for Civic Education (CCE) responsibly indicates to social deviations that it detects and tries with its actions to provoke adequate institutional response, but also to work constructively towards improving the existing legal framework and bad practices. Within that framework, the study “Academic honor at the Montenegrin manner – plagiarisms in Montenegro and their (non) processing” was produced, and obviously lead to a hysterical reaction of the leadership of the University of Montenegro (UoM).
The effort invested by the UoM in 2016 to hide all the required information from the CCE and to ignore the serious issues to which CCE indicated, with accompanying dishonorable actions in an attempt to discredit the work of CCE, is inversely proportional to their effort and time used for prevention, suppression and processing of plagiarism of the academic staff and students at the UoM. And all that is paid by the citizens of Montenegro, which can find out very little about the work of UoM, from the site of UoM, and only if they abstract the selfpraises of UoM leadership, led by rector Radmila Vojvodić.
The work of CCE on this and other topics is publicly available. To what extent are our findings competent is demonstrated by the fact that the issue of corruption in education, which CCE raised eight years ago, now has its place in the relevant international reports, including those of the European Commission, as well as in national documents, which has made fight against corruption in education to became undertaken commitment. Eight years ago, we received first threats and labels that we invented this issue for “grants”, and time has shown that we have not invented a problem, but it was even underestimated in scope. Time has not changed to criticism closed consciousness that lives within the management of UoM. That’s why we tell them that there is no need to threaten us again with complaints to the donors and partners and invite them to do so as soon as possible. It would not be the first time that they use this method. By the way, it would be good that the management of UoM and its protégées share publically any other threats that come indirectly to us, so that we then have a legal basis for further processing. But, it takes a lot more courage than for an unsigned propagandistic statement…
To the passion of UoM to disparage all nonconforming we will respond with facts.
Firstly, UoM is the only state university in the region that does not have software to detect plagiarism, although its introduction was promised years ago.
Secondly, the issue of plagiarism refers to all the works that lead to the verification at the UoM and consequently certain professional levels, starting with seminars, through masters to PhD, and not just on the PhD as implied in a statement UoM. And so far there were examples of plagiarism on UoM and no reaction of the authorities. The public is familiar with the case of the thesis of a former Director of Police Veselin Veljović, but UoM thinks that this is forgotten.
Thirdly, it is true that CCE submitted the documentation of the PhD of Velimir Rakočević to the Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade in order to establish its originality, given that it was defended there. According to the findings of the CCE, Law Faculty in Belgrade started with actions in order to form the commission but suspended it when they got notification from Podgorica that such commission was formed in Podgorica. In the letter from the Law Faculty in Belgrade, no. 740/6 of 29.06.2016, signed by the dean, professor Sima Avramović, PhD, confirms to the CCE that he has not formed a commission to investigate the allegations of plagiarism of the PhD thesis of Velimir Rakočević “because we were informed by the Law Faculty of the University of Montenegro with a letter that they have formed an expert international commission to verify the originality, independence and scientific contributions of the PhD dissertation of Mr Velimir Rakočević “. Along with that replay to the CCE, Avramović submitted the letter from Velimir Rakočević, where Rakočević informs him that Law Faculty, under his leadership, formed a commission to verify the authenticity of his work. Now the management of UoM pretends that they do not know about this information so justifies its failure, alleged by waiting response from Belgrade, and which they know that will never come.
Fourthly, for the management of UoM the problem are not the ones accused of plagiarism, but the media and NGOs dealing with this issue, whose reseraches they try to annul and label them as simulated. But unfortunately for the UoM, these researches are supported with facts, documents, statements by relevant parties, documentation which clearly testifies to the negligent actions of institutions, specifically in the case of UoM, which produces long-term incalculable harm. If UoM finally starts working on establishing the principles of academic integrity, we will generously share with them our research skills, criteria for identification of plagiarism and unethical behavior, because UoM in its statement acknowledged that they lack knowledge in this area.
Fifthly, the Code of Ethics of the UoM refers to those who are employed or studying at the UoM. The refusal of the President of the Court of Honor, Dražen Cerović, from the alleged formal and totally unfounded reasons, to accept the CCE proposal to process the case Rakočević is an expression of lack of integrity to do his job. The President of the Court of Honor has a duty, according to the same Code of Ethics, to individually indicate to cases of scientific dishonesty of his colleagues, which he laso failed to do. Furthermore, the Court of Honor hides basic information about their work because of which CCE appealed to the Agency for free access to information, and thus it is strange assessment of the UoM about the “correct communication” of the CCE and Court of Honor.
On many constructions about issues which were not the subject of the CCE analysis, we will not respond in order to hold the focus which UoM particularly avoids, but we remain open to confront directly our views about everything in the public space.
Finally, none can desavow UoM as its leadership. But, it is not in the public interest that this leadership continues with its work, which in addition to the above has resulted that this year 47% of the population considers that corruption is present at UoM, which is even 18% higher than four years ago, as well as that UoM in 2016 fell 647 places on the Webometrics list of universities (2997 place) in comparison to 2015 (when it was the site in 2350). How far, in this regard, UoM as a public university is not only from the universities in developed Western countries, but also from the ones in region is illustrated by the fact that on the same list University of Ljubljana is on 286 place (2,711 places ahead of UoM), University of Zagreb, 479 site (2518 places ahead of UoM) and the University of Belgrade on the 536 site (2,461 places ahead of UoM).
From all the above, CCE appeals to new minister of education, Damir Šehović, to do everything in his power to stop the downfall of the oldest higher education institution.
Daliborka Uljarević, Executive director