The rectors of several Slovak universities have supported Miroslav Fikar, the rector of the Slovak University of Technology (STU) whom the Academic Senate decided to recall at its late October session.
“The process of recalling the STU rector has significantly harmed the reputation of universities and the trust of the public in the legitimacy of academia’s inner mechanisms,” reads the statement signed by the rectors of 10 universities.
The Academic Senate of STU decided to remove Fikar on October 26, but it has raised several questions. Despite the media attention, the senate attempted to exclude the public. Moreover, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juraj Šeliga (Za Ľudí) was not allowed to attend the public hearing at first, and he had to call the police.
The proposal still needs to be approved by the Education Ministry and President Zuzana Čaputová. They both said they will look into the reasons for removing the rector from his post.
The statement of the rectors’ conference is vague
The rectors were also critical of the earlier statement of the Slovak Rectors’ Conference (SRK) that said it respects the autonomy of STU and referred to the law on universities which stipulates that the academic senate is entitled to vote for and recall the school’s rector. It also reminded of the fact that the rector is appointed or dismissed by the president, based on the proposal of the academic senate.
Furthermore, if the STU rector is recalled, the law offers steps on how to proceed to keep the school functional.
The rectors call this statement vague and buck-passing.
“We’re convinced that the autonomous management and the autonomy of inner decision-making processes are the best norms for the university environment in Slovakia,” they wrote in the statement. “But we disagree with doubting these mechanisms that should guarantee the freedom of research, education based on critical thinking, and the continuity of the humanistic tradition of universities.”
Powers cannot be abused
Although they respect the decision of the top STU body, they reject the misuse of the mechanisms by some individuals and groups.
“The performance of the autonomous management cannot lead to limiting public control and the transparency of the universities’ inner processes,” they stressed.
They also called on the SRK to be actively involved in the dialogue on the reforms to the powers of the autonomous management bodies of universities to prevent similar situations in the future.
The statement has been signed by the rectors of Comenius University in Bratislava, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, Technical University of Košice, Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Košice, Pan-European University in Bratislava, Ján Albrecht Music and Art Academy in Banská Štiavnica, Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA), Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, and International School of Management Slovakia in Prešov.
2. Nov 2020 at 11:05 | Compiled by Spectator staff