FREDERIC MERTENS: “Although the Balkan War ended 25 years ago, the aftermath of its horrors is still perceived on the streets and at the universities”

Universidad Europea de Valencia International Relations professor Frédéric Mertens tells us of his experience as an expert at the Kosovo Accreditation Agency

Since 2015, professor ofInternational Relations at the Universidad Europea de Valencia, Frédéric Mertens, has been an expert at the Kosovo Accreditation Agency, a body funded by the EU and the European Council. He visited the country this summer on a new mission to assess university-related issues and meet the authorities, and his experience can be of great interest.

“Last August I went to two private universities in Pristina to examine the Law degree program and a Master’s degree in European Studies. Coincidentally, one of them will become a part of the Laureate group sooner or later! It was not just about analyzing how the programs are organized, but also how they operate, and how the universities are valued by their professors and students. At the same time, I accompany an OSCE mission to interview the victims of the Balkan War and their families”.

On his missions he had time to get an idea of the situation in the country: “although the Balkan War ended 25 years ago, the aftermath of its horrors are felt in Kosovo, a territory where you can still clearly perceive the tension between the different ethnic groups”, explained our professor, who was born in Belgium but integrated perfectly into the Mediterranean life.

“Many students from Kosovo have to leave the country to improve their knowledge and have a professional future”

Professor Mertens explained the level of universities in this Balkan country: “In Kosovo, compared to the public university in Pristina, there are many private universities and their material and financial resources are very unequal. Research is almost non-existent or underdeveloped, mainly due to the poor salary conditions of teaching staff. Furthermore, many students try to leave the country in order to improve their knowledge and have a professional future”.

Mertens, who is known nationally and internationally for his gender studies, ensures that he loves “teaching, communicating with others, with words, looks, gestures. Yes, being a professor is to a certain extent being an actor. Whenever I enter a classroom I’m going on stage. My mission is to explain abstract ideas and concepts in simple or at least intelligible terms, with messages adapted to “my audience”, who are all the International Relations students at the Universidad Europea de Valencia”.