After University of Belgrade ruled that Finance Minister Sinisa Mali plagiarised his doctorate, N1’s Adam Santovac followed the story from last June and made it into a documentary called ‘Mega Diplomac’.
The documentary talks about the education of the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic who studied “at the faculty that had no professors” and how Belgrade-based private faculty Megatrend recognized his diploma as valid, which he earned after two instead of four years of study.
The Megatrend Rector Mica Jovanovic, who is also the director of Megatrend International Expert Consortium Limited based in London, from Stefanovic reportedly graduated, refused to comment the N1’s findings of the non-existent London school and the professors who were said to have lectured there.
After several attempts, N1 received Jovanovic’s answer: “You are selling your honesty for lots of money. You’re paid to unscrupulously ruin lives with your so-called investigative journalism, without thinking about the consequences.”
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Jovanovic is a long-term member of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the main coalition party of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by President Aleksandar Vucic.
The Chairman of the Megatrend University Council, Ljubisa Rakic, an academician, also refused to talk to N1.
The access to Stefanovic’s school records was allowed only to the state-run Tanjug news agency. Rakic told the agency that everything was done in line with the law.
The professors who N1 contacted as they were listed as lecturers at the London Megatrend branch, said they never taught at that school.
Besides, the only students who are known to have attended the non-existent Faculty are Stefanovic and Petar Djokic, a Minister in Republika Srpska.
The Megatrend Faculty nostrified Stefanovic’s diploma in February 2005, in line with the then University Law from 2002. However, even that was not regular because the law stipulated that the University was in charge of nostrification while in Stefanovic’s case, the Faculty carried it out.
The current Law on Higher Education allows the Education Minister to annul a diploma if an unauthorized institution issued it.
Asked whether he would annul Stefanovic’s diploma issued by a company from the UK and not by an accredited faculty, Mladen Sarcevic, Serbia’s Education Minister, told N1 that “when the Minister graduated, the University was in charge of verifying its authenticity. After that, the jurisdiction was passed onto the Ministry. As of this year, the Agency for Qualifications is in charge and there is also a court for appeals.”
In the meantime, Megatrend deleted the information about the network of higher education institutions from its website.
“The network included schools in Japan, the US…,” Natasa Miletic, a journalist who investigated Megatrend’s business, told N1.
She said she investigated only the London branch – the so-called Megatrend University Worldwide. Miletic said she found out that “those campuses did not exist, they were made up.”
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