Christos Alexopoulos Ph.d., College of Applied Health Studies, Ćuprija

Education as a Business – Foreign students’ economic contribution

In this anniversary year that marks the 20th year of the existence of the College of Applied Health Studies in Ćuprija, we spoke with the college’s director and professor of vocational studies, Christos Alexopoulos Ph.D.

Presenting key points of the college’s policy for attracting foreign students who provide a beneficial contribution to the state economy, director Alexopoulos also revealed plans for 2019.

Statistics show that numbers of foreign students in Serbia have fallen drastically over the last 30 years. What do you think is the main reason for this?

It is estimated that there were around 30,000 foreign students in Serbia during the 1980s, with costs here significantly lower compared to Western European countries and with Yugoslav universities enjoying a good reputation and top experts as educators. The most popular colleges were in Zagreb and Belgrade. Today, compared to those bygone times, the number of foreign students in Serbia is low. It is estimated that there are fewer than 2,000 foreign students at this moment. The main reason is war. After the collapse of the former country, numerous interstate treaties ceased to be valid, and there was no interest in studying in a country on which sanctions had been imposed.

Why do you think the circumstances can be different at this moment?

I believe that the policies of President Aleksandar Vučić guarantee the country’s stability. The image of his cabinet governing the economy is similar in education. We intend to copy the pattern from the national economy. The president welcomes German companies, so we welcome students from all over the world. Moreover, experience has shown that recommendations are the best advertisement, so foreign students can later bring each other. Our country has lots to offer. Our accredited colleges are still highly rated, and the total cost of study is lower. Annual tuition fees for foreign students range from 1,000 to 5,000 euros. The Diploma of the Medical College can be notified for work in America. The same diploma that would cost you $500,000 in the U.S. is five times cheaper here.

The College of Applied Health Studies in Ćuprija is starting to implement European directives, contributing to some extent to Serbia not delaying on accession to the European Union

Apart from the state, what is your institution’s strategy and what are your plans for 2019?

I would emphasise two crucial points. At this moment, the most important thing is that we integrate into European flows. The College of Applied Health Studies in Ćuprija is starting to implement European directives, contributing to some extent to Serbia not delaying on accession to the European Union. We also support the Ministry of Education’s project to encourage foreign students to come and invest their knowledge in Serbia, which will certainly result in improvement for the Serbian economy.

In that regard, a delegation of our college recently visited the Faculty of Health Studies of the University of Rijeka, which has study programmes that already comply with EU Directive 55/13. We plan to make the necessary preparations in 2019 and to establish cooperation with this institution, which is more experienced and which can teach us what steps to take in order to implement directives in a timely manner.

We will soon submit new curricula for accreditation and we want them to be based on these directives.

Another very important element is the implementation of the digitisation process. At the College of Applied Health Studies in Ćuprija we have provided the necessary equipment, such as a multimedia classroom, server room, optic cables and the like, so that students can master the IZIS program, which is used in hospitals and other health institutions.