Dear staff members,
In conditions of the pandemic COVID-19, the new academic year 2020/21, we start like never before, full of health challenges, but also tests how will cope and carefully manage the situation.
With the motto, ‘health in the first place’, for students, staff and the surrounding community, in addition to institutional care we must have a high level of awareness of the situations and challenges that await us in the normalization of the ‘abnormal situation’. Our behavior on campus, at work, at home as well as in community settings must conform to the existing risks posed by the so unpredictable virus. By staying together, as we have done so far, we will manage and cope with few health consequences as possible.
Aware of the dangers, institutionally we have made maximum preparations for the strict implementation of all hygienic, remote and personal protection recommendations throughout the pandemic period. Please, each one of you dear students and staff take care of personal hygiene, keep the distance, ventilation of the premises, reduced duration of lectures, efficient concentration on lectures and cooperation and understanding among ourselves for these emergency situations.
SEEU has treated the health risk in pandemic situations with the utmost seriousness. Since mid-March 2020, we have drafted protocols, implemented the recommendations of the health authorities, shifted teaching from physical presence to distance, organized exam sessions in hybrid mode, defense of master and PhD theses and projects, all in part from a distance and partly with physical presence and so far we have done it very successfully. We will succeed even further and all this in order to maintain the health, quality and validity of our diplomas. When this situation passes, we must prove that the knowledge learned is valid and equivalent to the certification given for academic programs.
July and August are almost a comfortable summer holiday months for the academic world, but this year it was not the case for SEEU. In July, in a full day training, all the academic staff were given the task of preparing for the challenges of September - a completely different beginning of the academic year, in terms of Corona Virus! In August, we continued with three days of additional training - focusing on preparations for improving the quality of teaching and learning through interactive forms, problem solving and tasks in the classroom and from distance, simultaneously in a combined format. I thank the staff for their vigilance and understanding for the preparations of what awaits us! The newly established SEEU Board was also in full support, for which I thank them immensely for the support and academic freedom it creates for us!
All students who are close to the campuses in Tetovo and Skopje, have the ideal spatial, technical, infrastructural and environmental conditions to be present in classes with full fulfillment of health recommendations while all those who will not feel good with health, are at considerable distances and especially those abroad from the country, will be able to attend real-time distance teaching and learning. Right now, our evidence (student survey conducted in July) shows that 2/3 of students prefer physical presence teaching and about 1/3 will follow from distance. For this, SEEU and the IT Department prepared the necessary equipment (specific cameras) to enable this. Many thanks, especially to the IT Department and to Academic Operational Planning.
Academic staff with high conscience and integrity, aware of our motto ‘student in the center of services/attention’ with high academic freedom but also with permanent accountability, will manage the teaching and learning process in the best possible way. Your commitment and help, dear student, in this endeavor is very important to succeed together. I strongly believe in this commitment and for anything you feel is not working properly, please address us. We are human beings like you, maybe some of us are significantly different in adulthood but in mentality we are very close. The use of information technology, our electronic platforms, electronic services and on-line programs thankfully are much older for SEEU than the corona virus challenge time!
When we return to ‘old normality’, nothing will be completely the same as before. From every challenge and crisis comes new innovations, knowledge and practices that we do not want fully to implement as before! Positive changes will remain sustainable as they develop further. Maybe even our higher education system needed such a tsunami to wake up from the traditional sleep. For us as SEEU, this situation was a vibration but for the higher education system in the country, and maybe even in the wider region it is a profound shift. Fewer and fewer lecturers we will have in the traditional method ‘ex-cathedra’, because this is what you, the Generation Z, want! Also the traditional ways of learning do not suit your generation, who increasingly prefer to learn by reading less and less, especially the things you do not like very much! Here I also see the benefits of this common evil happening to humanity everywhere.
SEEU again this year, thanks to the high commitment of all employees, both academic and administrative and support services, despite all the declining population trends (declining birth rate, increasing emigration, the search for quality and Western standards, etc.), for the third time in a row has not only proved stability but also an increase in the number of students, especially in some study programs required by the labor market, not only in the country! Even the Call for student enrolment in the third cycle of studies doesn’t need to be re-opened for the second time, because on average at the University level over 4 applicants compete for a place for doctoral studies.
Finally, I wish you to continue to be interactive and above all healthy!
Success in this common journey of ours!
Acad. Prof. Dr. Abdylmenaf Bexheti