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Interview with the Rector of University of Defence for Medici.com

22. 03. 2012

University of Defence of Serbia was formed on February 24, 2011. It functionally integrated the academic and scientific-research capacities of the Military Academy and the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade. In this prestigious institution, the future Serbian officers – pilots, doctors, engineers, military diplomats and others are educated, and there is a great interest in these studies abroad.
- It is the duty of an officer to serve his people and homeland. There is a big responsibility, pledge and obligation to be a descendant of famous generals and soldiers, brought on endurance and enthusiasm. Great, glorious and honorable history, and sacred traditions of the Serbian armed forces bind us to firmly persist on the path of high moral values, looking forward to the future, in a perpetual race with the challenges of modern times. – Those are the words of Major General Prof. Dr. Miodrag Jevtić, a soldier and a doctor who, at the peak of his career, after numerous victories achieved in battles to save what is the most sacred – the human life, after all routes flown through the maze of life and the challenges of the military profession, and after six years of highly successful management as the Head of the colossus of Serbian medicine – the Military Medical Academy, has accepted another magnificent challenge, as the first rector of the newly-formed University of Defence of Serbia to participate in creating a profile of future Serbian officers.
General, thank You for talking to Medici.com. It is a great honor to be in your place, but also great responsibility. Knowing you and your extraordinary creative energy, we are convinced that you are the right person at the right place and that the University of Defence will soon become recognizable resource and the brand of the state of Serbia and its Armed Forces in the country and abroad.
- Thank You for the best wishes and for having recognized the need to devote considerable space in your reputable journal to the Serbian University of Defence. As you said, it is an exceptional honor, but also a huge responsibility to participate in the profiling of new values that must be a harmony of the brightest traditions of our Armed Forces and it requires time and space in which we live. Modern Serbian officer of today and tomorrow has to combine in himself military honor and creative force that will be the basis of continuous advancement and improvement in accordance with the new imperatives of new times and achievements in military sciences. Knowledge and education are a prerequisite for this. This finding was a beacon for the management of our Ministry of Defence and for all of us who participated in the creation of the University of Defence of Serbia.        
The University of Defence will certainly give another new color and qualitative valuable contribution to the academic community in Serbia and probably the region as a whole.
That's it. The University of Defence of Serbia is the first university of its kind in the region and it will perform training of academically qualified officers, branches and services and their continuing education and development in the profession. In addition, this higher education institution will integrate the entire educational and scientific-research activity within the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of Serbia. We have considerable resources in this area, very well financially equipped institutes and laboratories, and above all, our most valuable resource is the teaching staff that has the highest quality. We are convinced that, with the harmonization of all these activities and capacities, we will provide significant contribution to academic and scientific-research community of the Republic of Serbia.                                                                
My associates and I, like all members of the Military Academy and the Military Medical Academy, two pillars of this temple of military education system, have a lot of work to do. We set the goal and climb to it. We want tomorrow to be better than today and we want military education, as you said, to become a recognizable brand of our Ministry of Defence in the country and abroad. We want young people – the best of good ones, to rush proudly to study at accredited degree programs in three scientific fields and the three levels of study, thus becoming the strength of our Armed Forces and the country itself.
The University of Defence was established by the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia on February 24, 2011. However, the work on its establishment, from the concept to implementation, probably lasted much longer.                            
Work on this project, within defence reform processes in the field of education and research activities, took the last three years. We recognized that we have all the resources and prerequisites, especially highly educated scientific staff, and we used the experience of the University of Defence of the Czech Republic, but we also had a very significant experience of other academic institutions in our country and cooperation with them. Once again, we have shown that those who know where to go reach the farthest point. We worked as an organized team, with the goal and vision. We turned experience and theory into practice, requirements, normative acts, standards. Thus, the Serbian University of Defence was born, on the historic date – February 24, 2011. We decided to celebrate this date as the Day of the university. We want to be recorded in the historical annals as a generation of artists who, respecting the tradition created the institution for the future. On that day, we will commemorate the first anniversary of the University of Defence, summarize what has been done and publicly present the vision of further development, award the first honorary doctorate and will host the gala session of the Conference of the Universities of the Republic of Serbia (KONUS).   
Therefore, this higher education institution has very clear, defined tasks and is not a virtual category, nor the place for taking photos, as some ignorant or malicious individuals tried to put it.                          
I would not be paying attention to the remarks of the evil. Unfortunately, success is unforgiving, and slender is thrown on those successful. It pulls us back. My closest associates and I do not belong to that category of people. We create and build for the future. However, let me return to the topic of our conversation. It is the University of Defence. It is a state university, the youngest in the country, which has complied with all university national and international standards, and as such created its corporate identity. It is already well accepted in the academic community of state and private universities of the Republic of Serbia.                         
The University of Defence integrates functions, with full respect for the integrity and traditions of all higher education institutions in its composition (the Military Academy and Military Medical Academy). With the integration of academic and scientific-research capacities in defence significant savings are achieved, duplication of facilities is prevented and personnel, material and spatial resources are used in a more rational way. Synergy and teamwork are the basic requirement in the functioning of this system.
How does the University of Defence work in practice, i.e. how are academic studies organized?
The University of Defence carries out activities of higher education through academic studies of the first, second and third level, in a number of scientific and educational fields within medical, technical, technological and socio-humanistic sciences. All degree programs in basic, integrated, master, specialist and PhD studies are accredited by the National Council for Higher Education in accordance with the Bologna process and involve a number of ECTS credits.                            
Since the foundation of the university, in a relatively short time, there was a number of activities involving the establishment of the Rectorate of the University of Defense, adoption of major normative documents and rules, Statute of the University, formation of different committees and bodies, the Senate and expert councils, the Quality Assurance Committee and Cadet Parliament. We expect the accreditation of new study programs, introduction of PhD studies, strengthening scientific research with partner participation in research projects and further improvement of the quality of teaching, as well as final recognition of the need for material valorization of teaching activities like on all other state universities. We are already preparing for the second phase of development of the university, which involves help and support in the accreditation and inclusion of our institutes, library and publishing activities in the university community. Career development of officers through all four levels and the establishment of cadet research center will also be the subject of engagement of the university management.
General, University, in accordance with academic standards, must be autonomous. The University of Defence, however, is an integral part of the Ministry of Defence of Serbia. What is the scope for harmonization?                    
The University of Defense retains its autonomy in accordance with university academic standards, but its documents clearly define specificities related to the functioning under monitoring of the Ministry of Defence and there is nothing controversial. On the contrary, clear organization and structure of the defense system are initially a significant competitive advantage for our University.
University of Defence seems to have clearly positioned itself in the academic community of Serbia and the region as evidenced by the numerous meetings conducted, agreements on cooperation and partnership signed. What are your future plans?                                                                               
I am pleased to see that you carefully follow our activities, which suggests another strategic partnership we seek – partnership with the media, which is of great importance for us. However, regarding your observation that we have already been recognized in the academic community of Serbia, it is absolutely true and we are very proud of this result.                                
The University of Defense does not need to be unfair competition to anyone, but with the results achieved, to contribute to the quality in the academic community of Serbia. Our colleagues at state and private universities in Serbia who we are working with investing in the knowledge as a pledge for the future of Serbia understood this quite well.
It is important to mention the fact that KONUS admitted us to regular membership immediately after the foundation and that we have received very strong support of the academic community in all aspects of university activity. Colleagues from other universities are unique in the position that with the establishment of our university the academic community significantly strengthened, bearing in mind the organization and responsibilities of the system from which we come. We were immediately included as a partner in the previously approved scientific-research projects, the mobility of teaching staff and cadets/students was agreed on, and we signed the Agreements on cooperation with the Universities of Belgrade, Kragujevac, Banja Luka and the State University of Novi Pazar. In the near future, we expect to establish such cooperation with the universities in Niš and Novi Sad.
Further improvement of cooperation with universities in the region and the world is one of the priorities and the meetings with colleagues from Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Turkey, the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina have already been agreed for 2012.                                                         
In addition, some members of the armed forces from all over the world have been educated at higher education institutions of the University of Defence in the previous years, there are some today and our goal is to develop this two-way cooperation in the future as well within the international military cooperation of our country.
You mentioned the partnership with the media and said that the University of Defence has already built a corporate identity.
Yes, but these are only first steps on the long road ahead of us. The century we live in a century of knowledge, technology, information and media. That is why the partnership with you, representatives of public word, is very important to us, because we want to bring what we do closer to the public, especially young men and women who choose to live and work in the armed forces. That is why we have a clear ambition to further build and strengthen our corporate identity. The fact that more than ten candidates compete for one place at the Military Academy or the MMA Medical Faculty clearly shows that we are on track and gives me strength and enthusiasm to keep going without losing hope, getting tired or giving up. The criteria are strict, but fair, which is certainly one of the reasons why the best high school students from Serbia apply. The other reason is certainly the so-called college system of education, where every cadet has a predictable career, immediately after graduation has a secure job, as well as multiple opportunities for professional development. The Ministry of Defence expresses its satisfaction with the fact providing strong support for further improvement of knowledge in this area, because it will definitely be the most important currency that will be used in the 21st century.
General, the University of Defense has begun its mission in a responsible and ambitious way. It is never easy to start from the beginning, but it is challenging. Knowing you and your skills, surgical precision, soldier's courage, officer’s honour, scientific vision, a great creative force and the motto that “we can always do more and better”, I know you will persevere and the University of Defence will soon become a valuable reference to the Ministry of Defence, the state of Serbia and our nation as a whole. Thank you for the interview and happy first anniversary of the University!
 



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