Thanks to a hint from a friend, I got to read a very interesting article pointing out the splurge of private universities in the region and in Albania in particular. The author counted some 10 public and over 30 private universities, which beats the rest of the Balkan countries.
As someone who aspires toward a teaching career at a university (after I complete my MBA), I find this current reality of concern because of its extremes. Meanwhile, I understand that it will take some time for the situation to consolidate (number to decrease) with some of the smaller universities closing out or merging into bigger ones.
However, of bigger concern are the extremes in terms of the quality of courses and teaching offered to students. I’ve gotten to visit several private university campuses and talked to both professors and students and constantly watching out for new developments.
There is one particular university that is best known for its somewhat gorilla marketing techniques (leaflets on cars, in the streets, posted everywhere). It has been attracting a growing number of generally middle to lower-class students through cheap degree courses.
My first impression when entering their campus was that of walking into something like a prison due to the number of security personnel that guarded the premises. Most of the students could not afford books so they photocopied and shared notes. I also got to meet and talk with some of the teachers but cannot say I was impressed in any particular way!
Another university, which I’ve also gotten to visit several times, is also very well known for its sponsorships and high media/political profile of its administrator. It does carry a unique European flavor to its academic life and its teachers are some of the best (judging by their degrees) as well as its curriculum (based on the books it uses). I have also gotten to talk to several of its students, which I know personally and I’ve been sad to find both extremes in terms of those who study hard and those who get by plagiarizing and copying notes during exams.
The future seems murky but with time the various universities will have to distinguish themselves somehow and my hope is that quality of teaching will be among the top criteria.
P.S. Check out full list of Tirana pictures by The Nailman on Flicker