Let-down medical and dentistry students left in limbo

January 28, 2005

Medical and dentistry students at Macedonia's Tetovo University, which was formally recognised last year after a decade-long campaign by the country's ethnic-Albanian minority, say they have been let down by the prime ministers of Albania and Kosovo.

When the Albanian-language university - originally a private institution - was legitimised by a special Act of Parliament, degrees in medicine and dentistry were still not recognised. Students protested and then went on strike.

A leading Macedonian Albanian politician, Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration, tried to resolve the situation. On December 30 last year, he produced a letter from Skopje University offering places to all medical students who were Macedonian citizens, plus 10 per cent of non-Macedonian nationals.

After the long struggle for an Albanian-taught university, the students did not want to end up in a Slav institution, so in the students' presence Mr Akmeti telephoned the prime ministers of Albania and Kosovo. They promised to find places for the students in the universities of Tirana and Pristina.

Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano promised that fourth and fifth-year medical students, both Macedonian citizens and those from Kosovo, together with a "contingent" of others, would all be given places at Tirana. Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj promised that Pristina's university would accept 307 students.

But the two countries' education ministries have failed to deliver on those promises. Kosovo's ministry ruled that Pristina could accept only 180 - one third of the total. Albania's ministry ruled that Tirana could take only 15.

Since this would leave some 350 of their number in academic limbo, the students rejected the proposed transfers.

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