Emergency Conference
Tuesday, Feb 14 2017

An emergency press conference was held today, February 14th, 2017, in the Golden Hall of the University of Rijeka Rectorate. The conference was convened by the Rector, Professor Pero Lučin, M.D., Ph.D., regarding recent headlines in the media about the University. Rector Lučin held the conference with vice-rectors, who are also candidates in the upcoming elections for the University of Rijeka Rector in the 2017-2021 term in office.

Rector Lučin presented the core operational system of the University:
“During the last few days, an impression could have been made that disorganization and chaos govern the University of Rijeka and that there are certain conflicts, but the message of this conference is to dispute any such allegations”, the Rector stated.  “There is a large number of hardworking people at the University and who are involved in numerous activities and we think that our community needs to understand what this is about. My whole team deserves praise in their work. Mistakes do happen, but we are ready to recognize and admit them and improve on their experience. The University has grown extensively in the last ten years and has twice the surface area today and all our faculties and facilities are representative. The total budget in the previous year has been 670 million HRK and more than half of that amount does not come from government funding rather mostly from European projects. As you know, we have not increased tuition fees and we took care of the students and have developed one of the best social programmes and solved almost all obstacles for students with disabilities. We have initiated a number of cultural projects and have opened up to the community in a large extent. One of our favourite projects is the Radio Sova which we nominated for the City of Rijeka Award this year. However, we have reduced the number of students but only so that our students do not sit on the floor and to improve the quality of teaching, as well as in those areas for which we have received signals that there are too many students. We opened new study programmes and increased the number of students in the STEM field. Furthermore, let me note that the topic of plagiarism has been institutionally solved, which I hold is not mentioned enough in public. We work on prevention, on education, on acting… We are also the only university in Croatia which has developed a very elaborative system of testing students’ satisfaction. We have invested a lot of effort in our business transparency and switched the most of the business to the SharePoint Portal, the university intranet. All our components are generating positive results, have reserves and the bills ate being met within the deadlines. We try to be what is expected of us and that is the holder of the development of this city. If weaknesses occur, they cannot be tackled by political methodology, but the methodology of the rule of legal state. We were able to solve the difficulties that sometimes arose even "beyond the borders of Rijeka“. In the past eight years the crisis of the state budget is in effect, however we have succeeded to build most of the Campus. The project RISK (The Development of Research Infrastructure at the University of Rijeka Campus) was supposed to be implemented. Despite the crisis, the Project was successfully completed. We launched businesses on Campus, established several new services, tried hard to implement new projects and we are negotiating on establishing STEP 2. We try to complete all that with the people that we have available, with a minimum number of new jobs and with the rearrangement of existing and by using the enthusiasm of young people who come to the University usually as interns through the professional training program. There is a huge amount of work and we are not able to cover a great part of it with our own personnel. That is why we decided for the option of outsourcing in some areas thus deciding to hire an external legal adviser. It would be unwise to expose the University to certain negotiations without the protection of an expert legal adviser. At the time we had only one lawyer at the University – the Head Secretary of the University, who is an excellent lawyer, but cannot do all the work herself, and one intern who went on maternity leave. Additional employment of experts was not possible and the employment of staff in other sectors was very much needed. Today our employees carry out a larger amount of work than before. For example, 150 public procurements were conducted for the project RISK only, and all these documents needed to be reviewed by an expert legal advisor. In the end, the financial correction was only 0.02%. On the issue of outsourcing, the University will have problems even further, not only in legislative matters.
The University is electing a new rector and I am asking everyone to respect the dignity of the University, as well as the dignity of each of the six candidates running for rector. I am also asking the political parties not to interfere with the functioning and work of the University, especially in the selection of candidates, because only an autonomous University can guarantee development and future. The University must be stable and respect the work of every individual,” concluded the Rector.

Translator: Erna Halilović, University of Rijeka student-volunteer
English Language Editor for UNIRI: Iva Tijan, MA



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