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Dr Sandra Tinaj, General Manager At The University Of Donja Gorica - UDG

UDG Represents The Future

The University of Donja Gorica has, 13 years after the founding of its first faculties, reached a number of 3,500 students and around 40 programmes, as well as strategic partnerships with the world’s most successful universities

We are particularly proud to note that our greatest success is the success of our students, so we are especially proud of all of our alumni, who – seven to ten years after graduation – hold respectable positions in the private and public sectors, NGOs, serving in managerial or leadership positions – says UDG General Manager Sandra Tinaj.

It was almost 15 years ago that the founders of UDG set out in their convinction that they could create a system that would prepare young people successfully for all the challenges posed by the global business environment. Did they succeed in that because they made quality a priority from the very beginning?

– The University of Donja Gorica is focused on the transformation of the individual in Montenegro, with the hope that, in the future, it will influence the entire region and Europe as a whole, influencing its innovative and entrepreneurial orientation by building certain moral and ethical values, multicultural tolerance, and creating a responsible citizen of the world.

We can state proudly that, 13 years after the founding of the first faculties, we’ve reached a number of 3,500 students, around 40 programmes, strategic partnerships with the world’s most successful universities, internationally accredited programmes such as Vatel – International Hospitality and Management, Emos – Official European Statistics, with about 300 professors and associates that we bring together from Montenegro and around the world, around 50 international projects from the H2020 programme, Erasmus, IPA, national and international research and development projects, laboratories equipped with the latest technology, such as 3D Laboratory, the Centre of Excellence for Food Safety, the HPC Competence Centre, laboratories for Information Systems and Technologies and many others. In the relatively short period of UDG’s existence, we have passed two national accreditations and one international evaluation, each time receiving positive feedback from international commissions composed of respected professors.

All UDG activities are carried out in accordance with our equation S = z ∙ i², which expresses an innovative study model

Studies at UDG are not attended en masse, with lecturing conducted through work in small groups and through individual communication. Does that mean that there is almost equal insistence on the acquiring of professional knowledge and the acquiring of skills?

– All activities at the University of Donja Gorica are carried out in accordance with our equation S = z ∙ i² (“Professor’s equation”), which expresses an innovative study model.

An innovative study model means that a student’s happiness and ability depend on knowledge, but also on the intensity of life squared. What does this mean precisely? It means that, in addition to the traditional type of learning, students must also go through life conditionally speaking, and that means all those elements through which students are trained and prepared for the challenges that are brought by life, and the profession as part of that life. The intensity of life are all study stays, seminars, training, projects, research, excursions, socialise events, sporting activities etc. This represents cultural capital that is built among young people through the various aforementioned elements of activity.

Dr Sandra Tinaj

Based on these principles and the essence of the model S = z ∙ i² , it can be seen that the emphasis of our studies is on the student’s very being. The student’s being encompasses all of their personal spiritual and character features, system of values, way of thinking and view of the world, coupled with their humanity and emotional intelligence. This teaches them how to acquire as many skills as possible during studies, developing a better sense of responsibility and speed of decision-making, thus acquiring qualities that are important for coping in the global world.

Which of your study programmes attract the greatest interest? What have youngsters recognised as the vocations and skills of the future?

– When it comes to enrolment in the University of Donja Gorica, we have seen a growing trend in the last few years. On the one hand in quantitative terms, when it comes to the number of students, and on the other hand in qualitative terms, when it comes to the success of high school students enrolling in our faculties. Considering that we generally deal with trends in education at the international level, we must state that, similarly to development trends, the greatest interest is in IT and other technical faculties (areas encompassing data science, biotechnology etc.)

We have impressive infrastructure at our disposal, an integrated information system and the outsourcing of sports fields located in the vicinity of UDG

If you were to determine UDG’s success on the basis of the success of your graduates, would you have reason to be very satisfied and proud?

– As we have already stated, in addition to all of the successes that we note institutionally, our greatest success is the success of our students. We are sincerely proud of our young people, who achieve excellent results in various competitions, at conferences, as holders of international scholarships, but also subsequently as young and responsible people in working positions. We are proud to point out that today we have alumni students who hold responsible positions in international institutions, as young activists, as founders of companies that employ dozens of employees, innovators, successful young people in academia and research, as well as Ph.D. students at successful universities around the world. In addition to being proud of their results, we are also proud of our connection with them, as well as their need to support and engage students, their young UDG colleagues, in certain activities.

Few universities in our region have campuses like yours, with amphitheatres for several hundred students, a huge library, state-ofthe- art computers, laboratories and even a gym… And you also boast top lecturers and teaching assistants from all continents…

– The University of Donja Gorica has impressive infrastructure at its disposal, an integrated information system and the outsourcing of sports fields located in the vicinity of UDG. However, we don’t stop there, but rather strive continuously to improve our infrastructure, equipment and laboratories, so that our students have the opportunity to really use modern technologies like our 3D laboratory, supercomputing (High-Performance Computing – HPC), drones etc. Infrastructure is a necessary but insufficient condition, in view of the fact that professors, assistants and associates form the human capital of UDG, which represents this university’s uniqueness, especially the symbiosis of different sciences and research areas in one building and one creative atmosphere.

To what extent has the global pandemic impacted on the organisation of UDG’s work? What is happening when it comes to international student exchanges, guest lecturers from abroad?

– It is indisputable that the pandemic changed all segments of life, and that it has had a direct impact on education, but we will only see the full changes and consequences in a few years. The University of Donja Gorica has for years used the metaphor of swimming in the river and pool within the UDG Almanac of Studies, the author of which is the UDG Rector, as a message of the uncertainty that surrounds us and is certainly expected to increase in the future. We proudly point out that UDG, as a team, has done its best to provide students with continuity of education regardless of barriers, to create and then improve the quality and offer of online teaching. We have attempted to organise everything during the winter and summer semester according to a hybrid model, striving – in addition to the virtual segment of teaching – to organise everything possible, while still respecting all issued measures, in the university building and in direct interaction and cooperation with students.

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