University of New York at Tirana
University description (as per official university website)
The mission of the University of New York - Tirana (UNYT) is to offer students the opportunity to obtain a university degree at the Bachelor's or Master's level in a variety of academic and professional specializations, which will provide them the knowledge, skills, openness and confidence necessary to succeed in a diverse, international work environment, and prepare them for life as contributing, productive citizens of the global community. UNYT amalgamates liberal arts and applied, market-oriented education while retaining an emphasis on developing as a research-informed institution.
The University of New York - Tirana is committed to the intellectual, creative and personal development of its students. The university believes that the outcomes of student learning should include:
• Mastery of effective oral and written communication skills in English;
• Development of analytical, synthetic and critical thinking skills;
• Understanding of basic research methods, including the ability to locate, evaluate and synthesize information and data;
• Knowledge of Western and non-Western cultures and societies;
• Sensitivity to social issues and cultural and ethnic diversity;
• Appreciation for creative expression and culture;
• Understanding of international issues and the acquisition of a global perspective;
• Development of healthy interpersonal and social relationships;
• Understanding of the uses and limitations of modern technology;
• Mastery of the knowledge and skills applicable to a major area of study;
• Awareness of professional opportunities and understanding of professional ethics and responsibility;
• Strengthening of the values of integrity, objectivity and human understanding;
• Development of the skills and behaviors necessary to become a successful, responsible and self-directed learner;
• Instilling an appreciation of Albanian heritage and culture throughout our courses through the use of Albanian case-studies, data and comparisons.
To achieve these objectives, UNYT:
A. Offers a comprehensive cycle of General Education courses. The General Education program aims to encourage students to develop their academic skills, appreciate learning for its own sake, encourage a mature and broad understanding of our world today and to prepare them to be useful academic citizens of the Albanian and global society. General Education is a key requirement of an American university Bachelor's degree. Global socio-political, economic and cultural developments form many of the issues that higher education addresses. In a world where systems are constantly under reform, commerce, communication and both individual and societal problems have acquired a global character: issues like environmental destruction and economic development, contemporary health problems and pandemics, conflicts and security dilemmas, poverty and despair appear to be more urgent than ever. Likewise, the modern world attempts to promote values, such as freedom, democracy, equity, justice, and peace, which are increasingly understood to encompass the globe and play out across multiple and complex cultures. These global challenges cut across academic disciplines and require perspectives beyond the training and experience of a highly cross-disciplinary faculty team.
In line with the beliefs of the Association of American Colleges and Universities that “liberal education has the strongest impact when students look beyond the classroom to the world's major questions, asking students to apply the developing analytical skills and ethical judgments to significant problems in the world around them”1, UNYT sets global awareness as an overarching goal of its curriculum and particularly engages its students into a two-part General Education program consisting of core requirements and distribution requirements.
Core requirements help students develop advanced communication, critical thinking, analytical, synthetic and quantitative skills:
• English Composition
• Analytical and Synthetic Skills
Distribution requirements introduce students to the breadth of human inquiry in the liberal arts and sciences. In concrete, students are required to take one course from the following disciplines:
• Culture and Civilizations
• American Experience
• Cultural Diversity
• Social Sciences and Modern Society
• Physical and Biological Sciences
• Foreign Languages
• Aesthetic Appreciation and Expression
The University of New York - Tirana, administrators, instructors and staff are dedicated to the spirit of learning, personal growth and the development of a community in which active participation and freedom of expression are encouraged and supported.
B. Employs a variety of innovative methods in teaching and learning. UNYT strives to promote innovative methods of teaching. Along with the traditional lecture, highly interactive methods enhance student understanding of the materials at hand. Instructors are encouraged to supplement lectures with debates, in-class discussion, group and individual work and off-campus activities. For students with special needs individualized teaching methods are implemented. The university commits itself to high standards of theoretical, empirical and hands-on teaching, activating a great range of teaching aids, including, slide projectors, computer projectors, Internet, computer labs and off-campus teaching. Instructors apply different methods for checking the degree to which each individual student assimilates the course materials. Typically, a course requires a minimum of two in-class tests, that is, one mid-term and one final, as well as in-class participation and weekly preparation and, possibly a research paper.
Teaching standards are carefully monitored each semester in three different ways. First, each student is assigned to an advisor, who, in complete confidentiality, is expected to records the student's progress throughout the semester and mediate to colleagues, if this is necessary. Contacting an advisor is the first informal step for a student who wants to file a grievance. Secondly, during the sixth week of courses, the students are given course evaluation questionnaires conducted with complete confidentiality. Thirdly, once every two years all instructors are peer-evaluated by their department heads by way of class observations.
C. Addresses to the individual needs of students as active and creative learners. UNYT intentionally keeps class sizes small to encourage as much individual time for each student in dealing with a faculty member as is necessary for a student's development. In the Spring 2010 semester the average UNYT class size was 16.1 students, while the average class size of an ESC course was only 15. Furthermore, a system of tutorials enhances students' potential by allocating individual time for one-to-one instruction with UNYT's faculty.
Each student is allocated a faculty advisor who is in charge of monitoring and facilitating smooth progression of a student towards graduation.
D. Closely observes developments in the European Higher Education Area. In his article on the implementation of the Bologna Declaration in Italian universities, Gilberto Capano2 identifies “six important objectives underlying the Europeanisation of higher education: 1) The adoption of a system of readable and comparable degrees; 2) the establishment of a system of credits; 3) the promotion of mobility; 4) the promotion of European co-operation in the field of quality assurance; 5) the promotion of a European perspective in higher education; and 6) the adoption of a system essentially based on two main cycles, undergraduate and post-graduate.
Although as a university following the American style of curriculum and teaching philosophy, UNYT has chosen not to adhere formally to the resolutions of the Bologna Magna Carta Universitatum of 1988 and those of the Joint Declaration of the European Ministers of Education (19.06.1999),3 it is fair to say that the system applied in UNYT has considerable similarities with the desiderata of the Bologna Reform and, therefore, addresses all of its objectives.
Bologna Objective 1: The adoption of a system of readable and comparable degrees – link of education with the employment market.
Studies at UNYT are fully legible and transparent; programs of study are published in UNYT's bulletin. Furthermore, there is a close link between the curricula and the knowledge and skills required by the labor market; furthermore, the university attempts to bridge the “experience gap” between the students' studies and their employment by realizing a comprehensive system of internships and senior projects, and planning co-operative projects, establishing UNYT's career center for career days and holding business networking banquets. It is anticipated that through such synergies, UNYT will breach the gap or disconnect for students receiving their first postsecondary degree and successfully finding entry-level employment. In addition, UNYT maintains close contacts with the business community through its executive MBA programs, executive and vocational training programs, and its internship program. Last but not least, a carefully designed series of guest lectures aims at enhancing student knowledge in selected fields, while trying to increase intention rates along with other extra-curricular activities (i.e. student involvement in research projects, educational excursions). Last but not least, UNYT was the first university in Albania and among the first universities in Europe to offer a Diploma Supplement to its students.
Bologna Objective 2: The establishment of a system of credits.
UNYT's system of credits is essentially the same as the credit system dictated by the Bologna Declaration. While the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) primarily stipulates that 1) one credit stands for 25 hours of work; 2) one year's workload is equivalent to sixty credits (1500 hours of work); 3) for each educational activity, at least 50% of the credits awarded must reflect independent studies; and 4) that 60% of credits must be awarded for time spent studying the concentration subject areas,4 UNYT's system of credits achieves the same goals in a different way. While one UNYT credit stands for a total semester workload of 45 hours work (15 class hours and 30 hours of independent work for preparation, namely more than 50% of the total course-load pursued on an independent basis [ECTS, points 1 and 3]), the average total annual workload is 1350 hours (30 credits per academic year [ECTS, point 2]), namely almost as much as the Bologna desideratum. If, however, a student takes advantage of all opportunities on offer at UNYT, both curricular and extra-curricular activities (i.e. guest-lectures, educational excursions, etc.) his/her workload is very close to the Bologna stipulation of annual workload. Finally, concentration courses make up 64% of the total degree work, more than the 60% rate desired by the ECTS.
Bologna Objective 3: The promotion of mobility.
The educational system at UNYT guarantees high mobility possibilities for the students. While UNYT accepts transfer students from both European and American universities applying a credit recognition system, UNYT students can easily transfer their credits either to a college within the NYC group, or to American or European universities.
Bologna Objective 4: The promotion of European co-operation in the field of quality assurance.
UNYT retains partnerships with European universities (Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch and the University of Greenwich) and American universities State University of New York / Empire State College (SUNY/ESC). Both SUNY/ESC and the University of Greenwich take an active role in evaluation and quality assurance at UNYT. At the beginning of each semester, a delegation from SUNY/ESC headed by its coordinator, visits Tirana, in order to evaluate the courses offered during the previous semester, evaluate their instructors, check the progress of the students and plan for future courses. During the semester, they retain direct or indirect contacts with the students and the academic staff members through ESC's administrational assistant in Tirana.
However, university autonomy is an essential part of UNYT's agreement with SUNY/ESC and the University of Greenwich and UNYT is autonomous to decide the content of its educational programs. While a core of courses remains stable, there are considerable flexibilities for combinations of courses and innovation. Upon formal academic advising, students are given several choices of elective courses that fulfill a profile in their transcripts that, in their opinion and the advice of their advisors, will be useful in their professional and academic careers.
1. Association of American Colleges and Universities, “General Education for Global Learning,” http://www.aacu.org/SharedFutures/gened_global_learning/rationale.cfm, accessed 27.02.2006.
2. Capano, G. (2002), “Implementing the Bologna Declaration in Italian Universities,” Training & Teaching, 1(3), http://www.essex.ac.uk/ECpR/publications/eps/ onlineissues/summer2002 /training_ teaching/capano.htm, accessed 01.03.2006.
3. For this declaration, see http://www.cepes.ro/information_services/sources/on_line/ bologna.htm, accessed 04.03.2006.
4 For those principles, see Capano, G. (2002), “Implementing the Bologna Declaration in Italian Universities,” Training & Teaching, 1(3), http://www.essex.ac.uk/ECpR/ publications/eps/onlineissues/summer2002/training_teaching/capano.htm, accessed 01.03.2006.
The University of New York Tirana - UNYT was inaugurated in September 2002, having received a license from the Albanian government [Government Decree Nr. 397] in August 27th 2004. It was founded in order to address the regional needs for an American educational system and to prepare future leaders and business executives with a liberal arts and business education, a cross-cultural perspective, and a competitive spirit. Its objectives are to implement flexible and innovative practices in teaching and learning in response to the globally changing face of higher education.
Its first Rector and co-founder, the late Prof. Dr. Gramoz Pashko has been amongst the leaders of the Albanian democratic movement of the early 1990s, a former MP, Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. A full-fee scholarship offered annually to a freshman student majoring in Economics or Business bears his name, as well as a grant offered annually by SUNY/ESC to one junior student moving to his senior year of studies. Today the post of the Rector is held by Prof. Dionysis Mentzeniotis.
Some of the achievements of the university include but are not limited to:
Three generations of graduates (2006, 2007 and 2008), whose employment or graduate studies’ record is currently more than 93%;
In the Spring 2007 academic semester UNYT’s SIFE Team was ranked second in the European SIFE Cup.
Currently, the University of New York Tirana offers dual Bachelor degrees conferred by the State University of New York / Empire State College and Universtiy of New York Tirana. Furthermore, as from September 2004, the UNYT, in collaboration with the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch in Sion, Switzerland offers a Master’s programme in Business Administration (MBA) leading again to a dual degree (IUKB and UNYT).
Situated in the heart of the city of Tirana, the UNYT aspires to establish itself as a dynamic, multicultural and leading centre for higher education in the Balkans. To support the needs of its students, research, and scholarship, the university is expanding its library resources, organizes scientific seminars promoting research and scholarship, and engages into original research and promotion of highly scholarly works.
The UNYT is a fascinating blend of challenge and vision, in response to the needs of a global society and era. It is for this reason why the UNYT attracts students of high ability and employs academic staff of distinction, some recognized as international leaders in their fields.