Serbian academic scandals fuel plan to check government officials’ diplomas

Serbia’s Education Ministry is pushing for authority to check the authenticity of future government officials’ claimed academic credentials, Balkan Insight reports.

The proposal comes after Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic was accused of plagiarizing parts of his doctoral dissertation. Stefanovic denied the allegations, and his academic adviser at the private Megatrend University, Mica Jovanovic, stood by him. But Jovanovic was then himself exposed as having falsely claimed a degree from the London School of Economics and resigned as Megatrend’s rector.

Belgrade-based Megatrend, which opened 25 years ago, has a mixed reputation. An academic at Belgrade University’s School of Economy told AFP last week it enjoyed a close relationship with the ruling party.

A petition drive is under way among students and academics in Serbia to have the accusations against Stefanovic investigated independently, AFP reports.

The proposal to have the Education Ministry check future officials’ credentials would not be retroactive, Balkan Insight reports.

“In 2012, the Education Ministry found that of 2,000 diplomas issued by Serbian universities, about 10 percent of them were forgeries,” according to the website.

Eric Gordy, a professor at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, told the news agency that higher education in Serbia is plagued by “the failure of the state to regulate the increasing number of private universities and by doing so to maintain the credibility of university degrees, and the failure of the academic community, in both private and public institutions, to regulate itself.”

This article was initially published on TOL. Image by BokicaK/ Wikimedia Commons.


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