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news 26 May 17

Kosovo Pleads for Cash to Save Business College

With parliament in recess, and unable to help, Kosovo's Education Ministry is pleading with international donors to come up enough cash to prevent the imminent closure of the business college in Mitrovica, IBCM.

Die Morina
IBCM students | Photo: Facebook

If the government of Kosovo does not honour a pledge to take on the operational costs from international donors, the International Business College Mitrovica, IBCM, will be forced to close in July after the academic year ends.

The Minister of Education, Arsim Bajrami told BIRN on Thursday that delays were happening because parliament, which needs to approve any ratification of funding agreements. has been dissolved for the June election.

“If we could have had only one more parliamentary session, the draft law would have been approved,” Bajrami told BIRN.

He added that there were two possibilities. One was if donor states showed understand for the “extraordinary situation that Kosovo is dealing with.

“The first option is for donors to find a temporary solution for a month, or two or three months, until the Kosovo Assembly becomes functional. The second could be a special meeting of government where they could allocate a temporary fund from the reserve funds that would cover arrangements until a draft law is approved by the new assembly,” Bajrami said.

The College's current donors, Sweden, The Netherlands and Switzerland, issued a joint statement calling on the Kosovo government to “urgently decide on emergency funding for IBCM and to release it immediately at least the first year of funding, i.e. 600.000 euros, in line with the signed international agreement”, adding that this is the only way to avoid the closure of IBCM.

“Due to many delays in this process, until now no funds have been disbursed by the Government.” the joint statement of embassies said.

Since the summer of 2015, the Education Ministry has been working on making good on a promise to cover the college's operational costs.

The government decided to open the international business college in 2008, when it presented an initiative to an international donor conference in Brussels.

Following this request, the government, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, the European Union, Switzerland and others provided a total of 13.5 million euros in contributions until 1 January 2017, the embassies' statement explained.

Those most affected by the situation - the more than 200 students of IBCM - sent BIRN a joint statement voicing concerns about the future of their studies.

“We were shocked when we received the news but we hope and believe that the government will find a solution.  IBCM has offered a superior quality education, where more than 40 per cent of students come from non-majority communities of Kosovo,” the students’ statement said.

Students at IBCM have also started a social media campaign called Stand with IBCM.

“We think that others should support IBCM because it is the only educational institution that offers high quality education for students from all minority groups in Kosovo, and promotes diversity,” the students wrote on the statement.


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