Saturday, March 26, 2011

Response to article by Ferid Muhic on the law on higher education

In a recent article by Professor Ferid Muhic titled "Што не разбираат граѓаните на Македонија, а Министерството се „прави на Тошо“? published in the Magazine Forum ( the author focuses on two main issues: the government's manipulation of public opinion regarding the recent laws on higher education, and he also tackles the question of the relationship between the government and institutions of higher education.
Here I would like to comment on the second question.

In his article Professor Muhic blames the government for not telling the truth about the relationship between the government and educational institutions, which according to him is the reason why the government's actions have garnered 80% of public support. He also states that had the government informed the public of the fact that institutions of higher education in Macedonia are independent social entities the public would have recognized the government's attempt at manipulation and the percentage of support would have been reversed. Next, he compares the autonomy of the university with the autonomy of the church, and he suggests that just as the government has no business in meddling with the autonomy of the church it also has no business in meddling with the autonomy of the university. In other words, he equates the relationship of the government with the church to that with the university.

What the relationship between a government and publicly financed institutions should be has been an issue of discussion since the establishment of the very first publicly financed institutions. The other point is that there is no such a thing as a universally accepted standard for the relationship between the two. In countries with long democratic traditions this relationship is set in a democratic process with the participation of both entities. This relationship may also change periodically to reflect changes in the society. What is unfortunate about the situation in Macedonia regarding this issue is that Macedonian professors and Macedonian institutions of higher education lack any tradition of democratic management of themselves. From my personal teaching experience in Macedonia I am totally convinced that if the government were to have a hands off policy toward universities the authoritarian form of governing would simply pass onto the Rectors and the Deans, and professors would be in no better position.

There is no question that the new laws on higher education are absurd and mostly impossible to implement. There is also no question that individual professors are personally responsible for the failure in the quality of higher education in Macedonia. If they disagree with this point, or if they think that this refers only to a few renegade professors, then they are really lying to themselves, or as Professor Muhic would say, "се прават на Тошо". I have yet to hear from the professors their own initiatives and statements like, "This is where we have failed, and this is how we plan to improve." I have yet to read initiatives for changes in the laws on higher education that are initiated by professors. In the absence of such initiatives they give a free hand to the Ministry of Education., and the Ministry responds with a knee-jerk reaction. If the professors want to have greater impact in the educational system and greater influence in the legal system first they need to empower themselves and organize themselves into a truly professional organization capable of managing their own affairs. Knowing the current mentality of the academic community in Macedonia I doubt very much such a thing could happen in the very near future.

Now to the point regarding the church-state relationship. Professor Muhic states:
Ниту еден орган, па ни Министерството за вери, не може да менува ни една буква во доктрините на религиите, како што не може ни да наметнува мерки со кои ќе ги регулира и одредува внатрешните односи, кои согласно законот, остануваат во компетенција на црквата. ... како што црквата не може да определува кои политички акти да се гласаат, а кои да се отфрлат во Парламентот.
I cant's speak about the laws on church-state relationship in Macedonia, but let me explain in short the situation in the US. Churches in the US are tax free institutions, and to keep the tax free status they may not engage in political campaigns. But there is nothing that forbids them from campaigning to pass or defeat certain laws. The church does have a social role in society, and it should not be prevented from participating in the implementation of laws that benefit society. Two prominent examples are laws on abortion and gay marriage.

Comparison between church-state and university-state relationship is not valid because the former is financed independently, while the later is financed by the government. Should the entity that is financing the university have anything to say about how the university is run? Professor Muhic further states:
како што Универзитетот не може легитимно да ја евалуира работата на Парламентот, квалитетот на работата на министерот или на службениците во ресорното министерство, така, сосема истото важи и обратно!
Two issues are raised here. Do professors have a legitimate right to evaluate the functioning of the government? Does the government have a legitimate right to evaluate the functioning of the university? Professor Muhic states that neither has the right to evaluate the other. Does that mean that I as a professor don't have the right to publish or state publicly anything that puts in negative light anyone in the government? (I once was told by a Rector of a Macedonian university that anything negative I say about he university will be considered as slander against the Ministry of Education and of the Macedonian education system and a grounds for legal action against me). I don't have the right to campaign for the removal of the Minister of Higher Education if I am critical of his policies? In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education the Republican Party of Wisconsin is seeking, under the state's open-records law, to obtain e-mail sent by a Madison professor who has publicly criticized that state's Republican governor, a move the professor is denouncing as an assault on his academic freedom. ( As you can see, this is an important issue even in the US. In my opinion, as soon as you take away to right to be critical of government you can no longer call yourself a democracy.

The second question is should the government have the right to control and evaluate educational institutions. Professor Muhic states:
Законски е регулирано дека содржината на наставните програми, реформа на универзитетот, оценка и евалуирање на работата на наставниот кадар, никако не може да го врши ниту министерот, ниту Министерството за образование, туку сето тоа останува законско право и обврска исклучиво на Универзитетските органи!
The law does state that university organs are responsible for regulating the content instructional programs, reforms in the university, faculty evaluations, etc. Universities and professors need to ask themselves an important question. How effective have we been in the past twenty years in regulating programs, in reforms, in faculty evaluations, etc.? What have we done to improve the quality of higher education in Macedonia? I don't mean here to justify the government's approach. In fact, I believe the damage resulting from the new laws will be felt for many decades to come and will be almost impossible to reverse. I am only pointing to the fact that universities and professors need to bear more responsibility for allowing the state of higher education in Macedonia to reach this level.

Finally, the question is not whether or not the government should have any involvement in the running of the university, but rather where does the government's role end and that of the university begins. There can't be a hands off policy from the government because the university is financed from public funds and to some extent the public needs to make sure that its funds are not wasted. In the current situation it is unfortunate that the country has a Minister who lacks basic understanding of the role of institutions of higher education in society, professors who are still mostly entrenched in an archaic educational management system, and students who are still afraid to demand quality in their education.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipes for the survival of the University for Information Science and Technology in Ohrid

Ohrid University will remain viable for as long as it has the support of the government and the Ministry of Education. As one colleague said, "They already have a building, and they are building more. They are not going to tear them down." However, the institutions that established the university need to be aware that buildings alone don't make a university. The university will continue to function for many years to come, but in what format? Will it follow the model of other State and private universities in Macedonia, or will it truly emulate the best qualities of the best universities from around the world.

Based on my one year experience teaching at UIST, in this posting I would like to offer a very long list of recipes, in no particular order, that I believe are necessary for the survival of the university in the model envisioned by the original establishing committee.

    I believe the fact that the current rector has assumed all three functions listed below has contributed greatly to many of the personnel and academic problems at the university. Add to that the fact that he was rarely in the office more than one day a week, and even then for only a few hours, and you have a situation where minor conflicts and misunderstandings boil over into major problems. Add to that the fact that in his absence he had delegated much of his authority to his secretary, who lacked both the experience and authority to handle personnel and academic problems. Add to that the fact that the current rector resented having to communicate with the faculty directly through email, but preferred to convey all messages through his secretary (during the entire year I recall receiving from the rector only two direct messages after the end of the school year). Add all of these together and you have a recipe for disaster. This is why I think that the responsibilities of teh rector should be split among three positions.

    1. Rector

      1. Hire someone who mill have total dedication and commitment to the functioning of the university with no other business or political commitments.
      2. Needs to be accessible on sight at least three days each week for at least six hours each day. Be accessible to all faculty for one-on-one discussions at least one day each week.
      3. Needs to always communicate directly with faculty, rather than through staff members. Professors find it demeaning having to discuss personal issues through a third party.
      4. Should avoid micromanagement. Leave day to day running of the university to subordinates, such as the Office manager and Vice rector for instruction.
      5. Create and promote cordial relationships and atmosphere.
      6. Avoid managing through fear and intimidation.
      7. Respect privacy. Do not admonish or reprimand employees in front of others.
      8. Treat employees and students with dignity and respect.
      9. Strongly forbid and punish the practice of "mobbing" by any employee against any other employee.
      10. Do not treat the institution as your own private enterprise.

    2. Office manager

      1. The duty of the Office manager should be to manage the day to day activities of the administrative staff.
      2. Hire someone with extensive experience managing a large staff of employees, preferably someone who also has some experience working for a foreign institution either in Macedonia or abroad.
      3. Conduct weekly staff meetings.
      4. Develop rules for the staff.
      5. Provide clear instructions and procedures for dealing with complaints.
      6. Treat employees with dignity and respect.
      7. Strongly forbid and punish the practice of "mobbing" by any employee against any other employee.
      8. Clearly delineate each employees specific responsibilities. Saying "You are in charge of X, Y, and Z is not enough.
      9. Do not assign employees tasks that are either impossible to complete, or the employee is not capable of completing
      10. Inform professors of the responsibilities of each employee so that they know to whom they should address concerns and requests.
      11. Avoid showing anger in front of employees.
      12. Avoid managing through fear and intimidation.
      13. At the end of each year conduct consultation and review of each employee. Indicate weaknesses and provide suggestions for improvements.
      14. Ask employees to conduct an anonymous evaluation of the Office manager.

    3. Vice Rector for instruction

      1. Should hire either someone from abroad, or at least someone with extensive academic experience abroad. Must have a Doctoral degree.
      2. This person should be the one most responsible for implementing the academic programs and the "spirit" of the institution.
      3. Should be available on site at the university at least four days each week.
      4. Coordinates (does not dictate!) all of the academic activities with each of the professors and with the ECTS Manager.
      5. Consults with professors regarding the content and presentation of courses.
      6. Keeps in contact with colleagues at other institutions to coordinate mutually beneficial activities.
      7. Is responsible for conducting searches for new faculty and staff.
      8. Promote (do not dictate!) cooperation.
      9. Promote sharing of ideas to improve the functioning of the university.

    4. ECTS Manager

      1. The Rector, Vice Rector for instruction and all the faculty should be required to carefully read in English and in Macedonian the documents related to the Bologna convention and the European Credit Transfer System.
      2. These documents are quite specific as to policies and requirements. They recommend that the ECTS Manager have a doctoral degree and be a member of the faculty.
      3. Conduct workshops for students and for faculty to familiarize them with the system and to explain to them what is required of them in order to conform to ECTS.
      4. The ECTS Manager should not be responsible for managing courses and classes.

    The professors are the university's most valuable resource. A highly qualified, engaging faculty will produce highly qualified and engaging students. The university's approach in hiring faculty and how it treats them once they are hired is very important for the success of the university.

    1. Search for and contact possible candidates long before placing an ad in the media. Most faculty searches in the US are conducted during the fall of the previous academic year. The best candidates are always hired early. If you wait until March or April to advertise a position, your pool of candidates is going to be mainly those who did not get hired because they were not as competitive as others.
    2. Form a search committee of professors for each group of candidates that will be responsible for screening the applicants. Don't leave the screening to assistants, who most likely lack qualifications to do the job.
    3. Since all instruction at the university is in English, always make sure that each candidate possesses native or near-native fluency in English. It's extremely difficult for students to understand lectures by professors with accents from all over the world. Their English comprehension is not the best in the first place, now they have to listen to lectures on material they do not understand from a speaker whose English pronunciation is worse than their own. There are standard tests to test pronunciation, and it should be conducted by a specialist and for every applicant. During the preceding hiring procedures none of the English professors or assistants were consulted in the screening of the candidates who applied for a position to teach Technical Writing. The candidates were screened by the rector's secretary and couple of the assistants.
    4. Translate into English all documents that professors need to sign.
    5. Encourage faculty to share their experiences and encourage them to give suggestions for improving instruction.
    6. The faculty as individuals and as a group are most qualified to determine the appropriate content for specific courses. Don't leave this task to assistants.
    7. The hiring mess that took place in the spring 2010 should never be repeated.
    8. Offer faculty the option of signing a 12-month or 10-month contract. Foreign professors have families abroad that they would like to visit for an extended period of time. Some professors may want to conduct research abroad during the summer. One candidate in the spring of 2010 decided not to compete for a position because he was required to sign a 12 month contract. He was a recent PhD graduate and needed time for research in order to boost his CV.
    9. After the first year, offer faculty a 3-5 year contract. A large turnover of faculty, as it happened in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, should be the exception and not the rule because it is a very poor reflection on the university.
    10. Designate a two hour block (mid day) some day during the week when there aren't
      any class scheduled, to be used for faculty meetings and for organizing any other activities, so that there won't be a need to cancel a class. Also, all faculty should be advised never to schedule any private (outside of the university) meetings during this block.
    11. Always give ample notice for faculty or senate meetings. According to the University Statute, the Rector needs to give a 7 day notice for a senate meeting, unless it is an emergency. That never happened. We never got more than a two day notice, and many times it was no more than a day.
    12. Provide a written agenda for all faculty meetings. Include copies of documents that are to be discussed.
    13. Provide travel funds for faculty to attend conferences.
    14. The contract with faculty should be specific as to the number of contact hours (classes) the faculty member is expected to have each semester. The contracts for the 2010/2011 school year indicated that professors were expected to teach "minimum" of 10 hour per week, which in reality could be anything between 10 and 40 hours each week.
    15. Provide opportunities for professors to conduct research.

  3. STAFF

    1. Hire most qualified people for each position.
    2. Develop a staff manual that will describe policies in detail.
    3. Treat staff members cordially and with respect.
    4. Since staff members need to communicate with professors on daily basis, make sure that their level of English is at a level appropriate for communicating with professors.
    5. Promote (or require) "English only" rule in communication among staff members and with Macedonian students.
    6. Organize English language classes for staff members whose English is not up to par.
    7. Rather than reprimand, always try to solve problems through a discussion and suggestion for improvement.


    1. Reorganize program so students have more free time to study. It's difficult to expect students to complete homework assignments when they are in class almost eight ours each day. Follow the ECTS model to determine how many hours students should spend in class to get the appropriate number of credits. Leave this task to be determined not by the Rector but by the ECTS manager in consultation with the Vice Rector for instruction.
    2. Never disrespect the privacy and integrity of students.
    3. Revise from scratch the Student Manual with input from students and faculty. Make it a model for other universities to follow.
    4. Never reprimand students in public.
    5. Create a student honor code.
    6. Develop strict written policies on plagiarism and cheating.
    7. Create the position of Student advisor who will be in charge of dealing with student problem issues.
    8. After the first year assign a Mentor from among the faculty to each student. It should be the responsibility of each professor to have students as mentorees.
    9. Contact international honor societies to see what it takes to establish a branch for students at UIST. In the US, employees always look at such memberships when hiring college graduates.
    10. UIST should think about establilshing a scholarship fund for students in need. My suggestion is to propose this idea to all technology companies and social organizations in Macedonia and abroad. This would be great public relation for any company. Companies don't need to commit large amounts, any amount will be welcome.
    11. Entrance exams.
      Prospective students should be informed what background they need to have before they apply to UIST. For example, students should know what level of each subject they need to be competent in (not simply have taken courses in thouse subjects) in order to begin their study at UIST. The best way to do this is to put online the list of requirements for each course offered in the first semester. It's also a good idea to put online a sample test for each course for prospective students to take and see if they fulfil the requirements. If students know these requirements, and they feel that they do not meet these requirements, some may want to take tutoring in those subjects during the summer in order to prepare themselves for UIST. In the case of English, for example, students may want to take a summer class before applying to UIST. If possible, I would also suggest that UIST might consider offering an intensive English class for prospective students during the summer. Students would pay some tuition, so this would be at no expense to the university.
    12. Cheating.
      I understand that cheating and plagiarism is rampant at all Macedonian universities. My understanding is that this is a bad habit that students picked up in secondary schools. It is a habit that was probably never punished, so students continue with that habit at the university. This was a big problem at UIST in the beginning as well. It's still a problem with some students. UIST needs to have a "no exceptions" policy on cheating and plagiarism if it intends to maintain its integrity. Unless students are punished in some way, they will continue with this habit. Students need to be informed in writing as they enter the university that cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated, and more importantly, they need to know exactly what are the consequences for such behavior.

  5. Web page
    The university web page is a window into the university. Great care should be taken to make sure that it presents good reflection of the universiy. Because UIST is an English language university, it is important that the web pages are edited so that there are as few English errors as possible. Reading the CVs of the Macedonian assistants I noticed way too many mistakes in the English. May I suggest that assistants should be advised to edit their web pages, perhaps with the assistance of the English instructors. I really think it would be embarassing to have web pages in such poor English at an English language based university. Most universities in the US have a template for CVs for all professors, the format of all CVs is the same. You should consider doing the same for the CVs at UIST. You DEFINITELY should never have any links to non-existent or empty pages.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The quality of scholarly publishing in Macedonia

One change implemented in the new law on higher education in Macedonia is the requirement that Ph.D. candidates and professors going for promotion should publish some number of research articles in respectable foreign journals. I'll discuss the details of this law in another post, but for now I want to focus on the state of scholarly publishing in Macedonia. It seems obvious to me that the the reason why the Minister of Education decided to implement these changes into law was because he believed that foreign journals are much more rigorous and selective in what they publish compared to Macedonian journals, and that Macedonian journals will publish anything that's handed to them regardless of quality. Is the Minister right, and is his approach to the problem appropriate.

I am approaching this issue from my own experience teaching and conducting research in Macedonia in the humanities and in the social sciences.

First, we need to keep in mind that the reading public for scholarly articles in Macedonia is really quite, quite small. For example, if you are conducting research on the ethnography of a particular region in Macedonia, most likely there are no more than about 2-3 other scholars in the entire country who might be interested enough to read the article. Second, the concept of "double-blind" reading of articles submitted for publication does not work in a small country where everyone in a specific field knows each other. My point is, in the current situation quality control in what gets published in Macedonia is practically impossible. This is not to say that there is no high quality research in Macedonia. There is, but it's extremely, extremely rare.

While in most western countries there are professional organizations that take the responsibility for controlling the quality of research by their members, there is nothing equivalent in Macedonia. So, what gets published in scholarly journals in Macedonia? Basically, anything and everything that is written by scholars. Let me give you three specific examples.

In 2005 two authors, Tome Bosevski, an electrical engineer and member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and the Arts, and Aristotel Tentov, Professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies in Skopje published an article in one of the proceeding of the Academy, where they claimed to have deciphered the middle text of the Rosetta Stone and concluded that the text was written in ancient Macedonian, which seems to resemble one of the contemporary dialects of Macedonian. Keep in mind that neither of these gentlemen has any background in linguistics, historical or any other sort. The article is about 90 pages long with only seven references ( Two of the references are dictionaries, two of them refer to a Slovenian high school textbooks, one refers to a text on Protoslavic, and one on a Macedonian dialects. That's it! There is not a single reference to any research on the Rosetta Stone. For almost a decade these two "scholars" have been promoting their research around the country and have received accolades by many of their colleagues. After all, this is not research by some freshman student. The Academy organized an elaborate promotion of their research findings that was attended by many scholars and political figures.

As you may guess, their research is nothing more than pure gibberish. If their research findings were truly valid one would expect there to have been organized an international conference on the subject. As it happens, no one outside of Macedonia has taken their claims seriously. So, here we have two electrical engineers conducting linguistic research on an ancient text, they come up with some truly nonsense conclusions, and all of that is quite acceptable to the Macedonian academic community. What does all this say about the ability of the Macedonian academic community to control the quality of research and publication of its members?

The next example is a gentleman named Alexander Donski, whose research focuses on tracing the history and links between Macedonians living in the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonians of Alexander the Great. He is a member of the Institute of History and Archeology at the University in Shtip. His current "research" is on establishing a Macedonian link with the Romanovs of Russia! One of his books is titled "Jesus Christ and the Macedonians". He is also a member of the "Organization of Ancient Macedonians". There are many, many such examples of absurd links in his publications. Again, we are speaking of a member of research team at a government funded research institute that is part of a major state university. My hunch is that he has managed to place himself in the current position and is able to publish anything that he writes because his views fit quite well with the views of the current political party in power. In one of the Institute's web pages he is pictured together with the country's president (

I pose the same question again. Why does the academic community in Macedonia give voice to individuals who obviously have absolutely no respect for academic scholarship? It's obviously clear that the government, and the Ministry of Education, have no interest in controlling the quality of research. But why do Macedonian academics tolerate them? Fine, this person was most likely hired based not on his academic qualifications but on his contributions to the politics of the government, and academics have no hiring or firing power. But why are they not shunned by their more sensible colleagues?

I had personal experience with the third example. In 2009/2010 I had an opportunity to teach at a newly established university in Macedonia, the University for Information Science and Technology in Ohrid. During that same year the Macedonian Parliament added "St. Paul the Apostle" to the name of the university. There are many institutions in Ohrid, including the airport, that have recently changed their name to "St. Paul the Apostle", and by doing so establishing a link with Paul's travels to Macedonia. By tradition Macedonian universities have "patron holiday" that is connected with the name of the university. The university in Ohrid needed to have one as well. But what date top pick? The obvious choice should have been August 13th, St. Paul's day in the Orthodox calendar. That date was not acceptable because the patron day celebration takes place when school is in session. The selection of the date was entrusted to Jane Bakreski, one of the humanities instructors. Bakreski has a Master's degree from the Faculty of Fine Arts, National Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria, with a major in painting. For the university's patron holiday Mr. Bakreski selected October 22. I was curious to know how he came up with that date. His reply was that he consulted with a Macedonian monk, who informed him that the Apostle Paul was actually in Ohrid on that date! I wanted to know if he knew of any specific references to this claim. There are obviously no such references, but he did ask me to please not spread my "erroneous conclusions" among others. In addition to being an instructor at the university, Mr. Bakreski is also an icon and a fresco painter. His contribution to the university is an icon of St. Paul standing somewhere in the middle of Ohrid (

There are many maps of Paul's travels in Macedonia produced by biblical scholars, but none of them show him being anywhere close to Ohrid. So, here is a university that has entrusted the selection of a patron holiday, the most important holiday for the university, to someone who produces it from his imagination. This same individual is also entrusted to hold academic lectures to students at the university. How credible can his research and his teaching be, and why does the academic community at the university permit this type of "scholarship"?

These three examples are not atypical. The question is, is there anything the academic community, NOT the Ministry of Education, can do to prevent the publishing and spreading of such fake scholarship even when legitimate scholars are at odds with the wishes of the Ministry of Education and with the university's administration?

I think the main reason why legitimate scholarly research in Macedonia is impossible is the lack of resources. The current Minister of Education, Nikola Todorov, seems to think that there is very little research and publishing in Macedonia because professors are simply lazy. Recently he has said that the ministry will equip numerous research laboratories at all state universities, and he is also willing to pay 250 euros any professor who publishes an article in a foreign journal with an "impact factor". The Minister thinks of a laboratory in terms of a "classroom". That is, a set of equipment that any researchers can just walk in and do any sort of research. What if the government spends a million euros to equip a fancy laboratory, but the equipment can't be used for researching a specific problem? Let's not forget that the government financed the translation of first class scholarly literature that professors in the classroom don't find useful.

A modern library with current literature is essential for conducting even the most essential research in the humanities and social sciences, and none of the libraries in Macedonia fit into this category.

It is good that professors have finally decided to voice their frustration at the government's attempt to control how they teach and how they conduct their research. However, they also have to recognize their own inefficiencies and come up with their own solutions. An objection against the government's approach is not any good if it's not met with a better proposal from the academic community. The status quo is obviously not working. As I follow this conflict in the media I have yet to hear academics propose a different way to deal with the problems.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cheating and plagiarism at Macedonian universities

The first time I encountered mass cheating at a Macedonian university was in a course I taught on technical writing. Sometime in the third week of classes I decided to give a short quiz. There were about 35 students in the class in a room with about 45 seats. I was warned by colleagues that cheating in the Macedonian educational system from the first grade through the university is endemic, so I decided to give the students a long lecture on cheating and warned them that anyone caught cheating will fail the quiz. At that time the university had no general policy on punishment for cheating.

Cheating has become a culturally acceptable practice in Macedonian schools. If you walk into a very large university classroom with small number of students you will notice that all the students sit grouped tightly together. The purpose, of course, is so that they can help each other. There were several empty seats in my classroom, so I tried to encourage students to spread out a little bit. However, it was still not possible to leave an empty seat between students. As soon as the quiz was distributed students began to whisper with their neighbors. No matter how often I warned them, the whispering would not stop. Eventually I realized that I was going to have to invalidate the quiz, but I decided to let the students complete it anyway just so that I could continue observing how students go about cheating during exams. I noticed in the very first row one female student requesting help from her neighbor. I warned her twice to stop it, but to no avail. As soon as I would turn my head away from them, the cheating would continue. Finally, I decided to stand right in front of her and observe her from no more than two feet away. That did not seem to bother her at all, and she continued cheating through the remainder of the quiz. The practice of cheating was so widespread that I finally decided to reduce the number of quizzes during the semester, and I also requested a proctor to help me monitor the process.

In the same group of students I caught one student during a midterm exam using a cell phone to consult someone from outside of the class. When I reported the infraction to the administration I was informed that my only option was to simply give the student another chance.

Another flagrant instance of cheating took place in a class on English for information technology. There were only about ten students in a classroom with about forty seats, so it was much easier for me to monitor the class. After I collected the completed quizzes we decided to take a short 15-minute break. I went out to get a cup of coffee, and the students stayed in the classroom. As I was returning to the classroom I noticed one student standing by the door, and as soon as he noticed me he yelled something to the students inside the classroom. As I went to my desk I had noticed that during my absence the students had taken out the quizzes from my folder and tried to correct their mistakes. I was in such a shock, I was speechless, I couldn't find the words to express my anger. I dismissed the class and went to discuss the incident with one of my Macedonian colleagues. He was not surprised, but he gave me some advice on how to secure testing materials next time. I was quite surprised by my colleague's replies, because he didn't seem to think there was any need to deal with the students and their misbehavior.

Plagiarism at Macedonian universities is just as endemic as cheating. It takes place in undergraduate as well as in graduate courses. My first exposure to it was in 1997 when I was teaching in Macedonia as a Fulbright scholar. As we were discussing my teaching duties in the department my colleagues suggested that I teach a course on essay writing. Apparently, in final exams students had to write an essay, and that section of the exam had been most difficult for them. When I inquired why it was a problem, I was told that student had very little practice in writing essays. And the reason was because they were rarely assigned to write essays. And the reason why, it was because professors new quite well that most students would probably either plagiarize, or pay someone to write the essay for them. So, why would a professor want to spend hours reading, correcting and grading essays that were most likely not legitimate? Needless to say, the class did not go well for me. After we spent several classes discussing the art of essay writing, I assigned my first essay. Students were required to read the essay in class before they were to turn it in, and that's when it became obvious that most of the students did not author their essays. Some of them could not tell me the meaning of some of the words in the essays, others had not even bothered to read their essay before the class to at least be familiar with the content. My only other option was to require students to write their essays in class. This did not work either because students could not write more than about 3-4 sentences in one hour.

My other exposure to plagiarism took place in a graduate seminar on English literature. A final paper was the only requirement in the course. In discussing the length of the paper, I told them that I was not sure what the standard length of a final paper was at Macedonian universities, so they as a group suggested that 15-20 pages would be appropriate. Initially I was surprised by their suggestion because the paper was supposed to be a research paper, written in a foreign language, and it had to be completed in two weeks. I advised students to send me drafts before they turn in a final version, but none of them did. I received all papers by the deadline. The first thing I noticed was that all the papers were either single spaced, or one and a half space. I simply took it for granted that double spacing is a standard for student papers everywhere. This immediately made me suspicious, because I found it difficult to believe that students could complete long papers in such a short period of time. As soon as started reading each paper I noticed that there weren't any errors in English, which is difficult to believe knowing that the papers were written in a non-native language. A cursory search on Google revealed that every one of them had simply copied entire texts from the internet.

I sent everyone an email telling them that their papers were not acceptable because they had been plagiarized. Some of them refused to admit it until I showed them the locations from where they had copied. What was most surprising was that two of them got into an argument with me, trying to convince me that during their college education they had written many, many papers in the same way and they had never been accused of plagiarism. Apparently, this has become an acceptable practice. I doubt very much that many professors actually spend the time to guide and advise students during the writing process, nor do they bother to read carefully the papers that get turned in.

Writing a good, high quality research paper whether by undergraduate, or graduate students, or by scholars in Macedonia is a real daunting endeavor. University libraries simply don't have the literature necessary to conduct even elementary research. In recent years the internet has provided access to some resources, but students still lack the skills to use these resources in academic research.

Are there practical solutions to the problem of cheating and plagiarism at Macedonian universities? Of course there are, but only if educators start making an effort to eliminate them beginning with the first grade. My personal feeling is that at the moment primary and secondary school teachers, as well as professors at universities don't really want to be bothered with it. Although I'm sure there are policies against cheating and plagiarism at all levels, neither educators nor administrators make much of an effort to enforce them. I'm speaking here from my own personal experience having taught at three different universities in Macedonia over the past 15 years.

An American colleague who had taught at a university in Macedonia related a story to me how he tried to help a Macedonian professor get one of his books translated and published in the USA. The American professor found a US publisher willing to publish the translated text. Before the contract with the publisher was supposed to be signed, the Macedonian professor changed his mind without giving the American professor an explanation. The American professor later found out second hand that the reason the Macedonian professor had changed his mind was because apparently the book had been plagiarized, and he did not want that to become known.

An item in the daily Dnevnik confirms my observation on plagiarism by professors in Macedonia.
Професори крадат докторати (Professors steal dissertations).
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