Dr Sandra Tinaj, General Manager, and Dr Milica Vukotić, Dean Of The Faculty Of Information Systems and Technologies, University Of Donja Gorica

Education Is At A Major Turning Point! UDG Offers A Unique Educational Model

The University of Donja Gorica (UDG) is dedicated to its students and training them for both their professional advancement and to be a responsible citizen of the globalised world. The UDG’s innovative study model prepares students for rapid changes, developing their entrepreneurial spirit and their passion for learning

The University of Donja Gorica announced a 20-year strategic partnership with Arizona State University, one of the most innovative universities in the U.S. and one of the world’s most prestigious higher education institutions. UDG and ASU are today working together to develop and scaleup high-quality academic programmes.

Is the development of an innovative study model the right and best response to the crisis confronting classical university education?

It is evident that the classical university is currently in crisis. Thus, the questions to be posed are: how can one study and live in a world of rapid changes governed by complete uncertainty?

How to organise studies for today’s student, who will change their profession seven to 10 times during their life, unlike their parents, who perhaps changed jobs twice, and their grandparents, who spent their entire working life at the same workplace? Furthermore, with life expectancy having extended for these generations, a question arises as to what should be instilled in the foundations of students’ characters, their knowledge and skills, their value system, to ensure that these foundations endure that longevity. This is why education is facing great challenges today and why it is at a major turning point!

We are striving to respond with our innovative study model. First of all, UDG is dedicated to its students and training them for both their professional advancement and to be a responsible citizen of the global world. The strictest professor at our university is the professor called life, which means that we don’t teach our students about life, but rather put them in a position to learn from life, to learn by living. Unlike classical universities, which mostly function according to the A = K model (Ability = Knowledge), we are developing our A = K x i2 model, where the i variable refers to the intensity of learning by living, equating to the student’s intensity of life during their studies. One knows only what one has experienced and felt. We prepare students for rapid changes and the uncertainties that we mentioned, and we invest a lot to develop the confidence of our students and encourage their passion for learning.

Your graduates aren’t registered with employment bureaus, because demand for them is growing, but also because they start working independently thanks to having developed their entrepreneurial spirit. And that spirit is even taught at UDG faculties?

During their studies, students engage in a significant number of team projects and are encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial ideas, thinking in a global context. As we’ve already noted, we develop students’ awareness to be responsible citizens of a globalised world.

The date of 30th March represents an important landmark for you, because it was then that you organised a major launch on the occasion of signing a memorandum of cooperation. What can you tell us about that memorandum?

The University of Donja Gorica announced a 20-year strategic partnership with Arizona State University, which has been ranked the most innovative university in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report for the last seven years consecutively and proclaimed one of the world’s most prestigious universities by publication Times Higher Education; and with the Cintana Alliance, a global network of ambitious universities that work together to develop and scaleup high-quality academic programmes.

UDG is Arizona State University’s exclusive partner for Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia- Herzegovina and Montenegro

This partnership significantly improves the quality of higher education and the opportunities that will be open to young people from across the region. Thanks to this partnership, UDG’s academic environment will welcome the world leader in innovation to the region, which will bring with it its global influence in scientific research and the best online programme for undergraduate business degrees. In the future, UDG and the Cintana Alliance will work collaboratively to expand UDG’s resources beyond Montenegro through online degree programmes and regional learning centres throughout the region. UDG is ASU’s exclusive partner for Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Through this partnership, UDG will offer a unique educational model that offers a wide range of new academic opportunities to students, such as access to the ASU curriculum and the unique opportunity to participate in dual degree programmes, student mobility programmes, co-teaching and research exchanges.

UDG is among the few universities that invest heavily in general education, culture, entertainment, sports and student travel. How important is that for every young person? Is that “breadth” as important as a diploma?

As we stated earlier, all of this belongs to, and is derived from, our equation (intensity of life), without which knowledge has no value. The intensity of life aspect encompasses all study visits, seminars, training courses, projects, research, excursions, social events, sporting activities etc., generating cultural capital that is built among young people through the various elements of activity mentioned. Based on these principles and the essence of the A = K x i² model, it can be seen that the emphasis of our studies is on the essential being of the student; how they can acquire as many skills as possible during their studies, develop a better sense of responsibility and speed of decision-making, and acquire qualities that are important to thrive in the globalised world.

Most of your students have opportunities to work and study abroad, through exchanges, internship programmes or seasonal work, and many of them manage to secure employment prior to graduating. How did you achieve that?

We achieve this through UDG’s great openness and its great commitment to its own internationalisation. We achieve it through partnerships with a large number of universities and companies from around the world, as well as through international projects that also, in addition to professors and associates, involve students.

UDG is known for the constant modernisation of its approach to teaching and the introduction of new programmes. What’s new for the generation that’s enrolling in studies this year?

UDG’s programmes are oriented towards each individual student, while still providing fundamental technical knowhow in core areas, including IT, research, entrepreneurial and communication skills, as well as a focus on learning multiple languages. By maximising the students’ exposure to a wide range of learning experiences, UDG is becoming a transformational leader in the region. The biggest novelty for the new generation will be access to the repository of Arizona State University, a leader in innovative teaching concepts. Students will benefit from careeroriented curricula, practical experience in real-world projects and opportunities to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges while increasing their competitiveness on their future career paths.

Dr Sandra Tinaj and Dr Milica Vukotić, University Of Donja Gorica

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