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Are ethical principles possible?

Belgrade, Kragujevac and Novi Pazar 13 November 2018
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Are ethical principles possible?

This question was addressed to students, professors and guests of three public universities from Serbia – universities of Belgrade, Kragujevac and State University of Novi Pazar. The debate was fierce, opinions varied significantly. This one question provoked many others, which showed time and again that the topics of ethics, integrity and corruption are seen as very important albeit not straightforward within the academic community in Serbia.

Public fora that gathered some 160 participants were lead by the Belgrade-born Ms. Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, former Secretary-General of the Association of Universities of Yugoslavia who worked for 20 years for UNESCO where she led UNESCO’s global work on higher education reform, innovation and quality assurance as Chief of Section for Higher Education.

Having a very good knowledge about the state of affairs in higher education in both Serbia and worldwide, Ms. Uvalic-Trumbic managed to give a global overview while keeping the local approach. She discussed some practical examples, but also mentioned the obstacles and challenges on the road towards improvement.

initial presentation was sufficient to ignite a fruitful discussion and what we discovered is that the issues students and their professors face are the same in all parts of the world. Likewise, the solutions proposed were almost the same. conclusion was that ethical principles are indeed possible, but only if we start from ourselves. If every single one of us contributes a bit, then the integrity not only of the higher education sector but of the entire society will be achieved.

The three fora were organised from 5 to 7 November 2018 as part of the project Strengthen Integrity and Combat Corruption in Higher Education in Serbia and were hosted by the University of Belgrade, University of Kragujevac and State University of Novi Pazar. This project is a part of the Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey, co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe.