Interview of the Rector of University of Defense newspaper Politika
28. 02. 2012
The youngest, eighth state university in Serbia celebrates its first year of existence tomorrow (today). The first Rector of the University of Defence, Lt. Gen. Prof. Dr. Miodrag Jevtić, tells us about what it is like to study at the University of Defense, or the Military Academy and the MMA Medical School, the competition for admission in progress and future plans.
1. How do you rate the work of the University of Defence in the first year of operation?
The idea of establishing the University of Defence was present several years ago, but did not meet the support of our country’s academic community. Perseverance, enthusiasm and support of superiors has given us a chance to provide arguments that point out the lasting benefits of such an organization of higher education and scientific research in the defence system, including the major savings for the defence system and the country as a whole.
I am not the one who should judge the work of the University over the past year, but the results achieved in terms of the complete constitution of the University bodies, the adoption of normative acts and refurbishing the permanent seat of the University Rectorate, caused a positive reaction within the system, our country’s academic community, as well as the general public. This completed only the first phase of the constitution of the University, with many others to follow, including the harmonization of the normative acts of higher education units with the adopted general regulations of the University.
2. Why is the University of Defence established and are there similar universities in other countries?
Military and educational activities in our region have a very long tradition. Outstanding staff, who has also largely contributed to the establishment and development of civilian higher education and research institutions, has been created over decades. Events in our region over the past 20 years have significantly undermined the continuity in this regard, which caused insufficient and inefficient use of available resources and potentials. Reform of the defence system and the Armed Forces of Serbia, which takes place over the last few years, also recognized the need for integration of these resources, our well-equipped laboratories and institutes, but also preserved professional and scientific potential. With this in mind, and using the experiences of other countries that have several military or defence universities, management of the Ministry of Defence made the decision and gave full support to this important national project. The establishment of the University of Defence has created opportunities for the organization of master and PhD students, academic specialist studies, equalization of status of military diplomas in civilian, as well as the real mobility of cadets and teachers in the educational process. In addition, the defence system proved to be very rational, because it had more than 75% of the required teaching staff for the accreditation of study programs, which so far has not been used enough. These universities are in all larger countries of the world, as well as in several countries in the region. A role model and greatest support in defining the organization of our University was obtained from the University of Defence of the Czech Republic and our two universities are unique in Europe.
3. How many students and teachers do you have? Are you satisfied with the premises, staff and cadets? What are the biggest problems?
The University of Defence functionally integrates educational, scientific and research resources of the Military Academy and Military Medical Academy. In this sense, three scientific fields of engagement are defined: social sciences and humanities, technical and technological field and medical field. For now, we have accredited 21 study programs, and 5 study programs are in the accreditation process. Over 250 professors and assistant professors are engaged in the educational process in both departments of the Military Academy and MMA Medical School.
At this stage of the existence of the University, we are satisfied with working conditions and the results that our cadets – students achieved, and within the Commission for quality assurance and development of the University, we are working hard to strengthen the quality of teaching staff, improve curricula and teaching processes, as well as the employment status of our teachers.
There are no major problems in terms of the system workload, and individual problems are solved with maximum involvement of responsible persons and representatives of the cadets through the established Cadet Parliament. Currently, there are 846 cadets at the undergraduate level of the University of Defence, of whom 196 are girls and 10 are civilians. The very fact that the female population of the future officer corps now makes 20% of all the cadets, shows how much attention the Ministry of Defence pays to gender equality, and the respect of European modern ideas and requirements.
4. Competition for admission of candidates to the Military Academy and the MMA Medical School is ongoing, open until the end of March. How many candidates do you expect and how many do you enroll?
Competition for admission of cadets to the Military Academy and the MMA Medical School is open and available on the website of the Ministry of Defence (www.mod.gov.rs), it will be open by the end of March. This year, 185 cadets are scheduled to be enrolled in five study programs at the Military Academy and 30 cadets at the MMA Medical School. As before, we expect the best to apply, and experience of the past few years show that there are 6-10 applications per vacancy.
5. What are the characteristics that are required in order to become a cadet, and after finishing the Military Academy an officer?
It is necessary to be healthy, have a basic parental education, respect yourself and others, have good work habits and want to learn, love your country and be prepared for some sacrifices during training. Those who obey their teachers and believe them, work conscientiously and accept the Armed Forces of Serbia as their home, fight for their beliefs, but also respect others will surely become officers.
6. Why is one of the specifics of the competition, which is unusual for other universities – that the candidates are not allowed to be married or cohabiting, they even have to submit proof of this, as well as that they do not have children?
The University of Defence is an integral member of the Conference of the Universities of Serbia, but it has a few of its specialties that are recognized and respected.
The armed forces as an organized social category, above all, respect the family, as only the settled members can give the maximum and be prepared for all three missions, mostly to defend their homeland. Preparation for this requires full commitment, a lot of energy focusing in the process of training for professional activity. The military unit is definitely a big family in which young people mature and, of course, when their basic training is completed and conditions are created, starting a family and raising children is very much desirable.
7. Do cadets have what is an integral part of student life at other universities, such as student’s transcript, ECTS points, falling exams, scholarships, student parliament, accommodation, Bologna, the right to go out of boarding school...?
Of course that cadets of our University of Defence have most of the rights. They probably have more committments, but on the other hand, are not burdened with many of the problems that other students often have, like accommodation, food, getting a job after graduation and others. Surely that the Bologna Declaration is an integral part of curricula and teaching processes at our University.
8. What is the difference between the previous and new way of training of military physicians?
The system of medical staff education in our country has a long tradition and there are very good doctors here. However, the military organization also requires from them to be trained for some specific situations, better to say, emergencies. Good organization is a prerequisite for successful treatment of mass casualties, and much attention must always be paid to this. In previous years, the defence system annually provided scholarships to dozens of medical students at medical schools, but few of them were back into the system doing the jobs and tasks of a military doctor. Bearing this in mind, and the fact that the MMA has a very powerful teaching staff and other facilities, it was decided to establish the MMA Medical School, which this year enrolls the fourth class – generation of students of integrated studies of medicine. These are great kids, the best among the best of high-school pupils opted for this profession and now, at an early age, they learn and accept that the profession is their choice, that it is their home and the system, that they have a job provided after graduation, guided career and unimagined possibilities for progress and development.
9. How do joint studies with other higher education institutions function in practice, this cooperation with the Faculty of Organizational Sciences being among the first?
The University of Defence in the Community of Universities of Serbia has a great interest in the mobility of teaching staff and cadets – students. Both the previous experience we had with the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, the Faculty of Security and the Faculty of Traffic and Transport Engineering, when, in 2008, joint study programs were implemented, and the current one – implementation of joint study programs together with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Kragujevac, in the field of military-industrial engineering – indicate that we are on track and that it will be one of our strategic activities in future.
10. What are the plans of the University of Defence in the years to come?
In the years ahead, the plans include further strengthening of the University, further harmonization with the academic community of the Republic of Serbia, stronger support given to our higher education institutions in participation and implementation of scientific and research projects, establishment and strengthening of international cooperation with academic institutions, especially in the field of defence sciences, and, mentioned above, improving the quality of the curricula and the status of the teaching staff.
A) Can women progress in service as men? What is the percentage of girls?
The very fact that among the cadets of the Military Academy and the MMA Medical School we currently have about 20% of girls, also shows our European orientation in terms of gender equality. Our female cadets are in no way behind their peers, performing their tasks conscientiously and responsibly. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence management expect them to become great officers and our strong support in the near future.
B) Do you watch a series that RTS has recently started to broadcast and how accurately does it show military life?
Yes, and there is hardly a professional soldier who does not watch it, as well as many citizens of our country. I think this will contribute to breaking the myth of the rigidity of the military profession, knowing that life in the military is not easy, but it is predictable for those hardworking and ambitious. A modern – contemporary approach is used to show life in the military and I think that the series will significantly contribute to realistic and not virtual understanding of life and work in uniform.
Posted in Section: Interviews