The dean of the Faculty of Organizational Sciences (FON), where Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali got his doctorate from, called a meeting of senior staff on Tuesday to discuss the findings of an expert commission that examined the disputed doctoral thesis.
Mali’s doctoral thesis from FON has been disputed amid claims of plagiarism. The failure of the expert commission to rule on the issue has caused protests and a student lockdown in the Belgrade University Rectorate.
Tuesday’s meeting called by FON Dean Milija Suknovic discussed the findings of the expert commission but the dean refused to disclose the findings.
The Serbian Centre for Investigative Journalism (CINS) said that it had learned that the commission only confirmed earlier ruling that Mali’s doctoral thesis was not plagiarized. CINS said that the dean did not show FON senior staff the written ruling, informing them of it verbally.
According to University rules, the findings of the expert commission should have gone to the FON teachers’ council for a final decision. A student member of the teachers’ council was not allowed to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Earlier, Belgrade University Rector Ivanka Popovic said she expects the FON to find the strength to do the job and take a final decision on Mali’s doctoral thesis by October 26th. She told FoNet that she received no official information about the meetings at FON.
Siniša Mali obtained his PhD at FON in 2013. He originally submitted his thesis at the faculty where he studied, the Faculty of Economics, but his work was rejected. Mali then modified it and submitted it FON.
Dragan Djuricin, one of the members of the commission which accepted Mali’s thesis at FON, actually claims that Mali wrote two doctorates, one which was rejected at the Faculty of Economics and one that was accepted by the FON. Submitting one the same thesis at two faculties is forbidden and the Faculty of Economics never published Mali’s original thesis nor the reasons why it was rejected, so it remains unclear if these were different theses.
In July 2014 the website Pescanik claimed that Mali had plagiarized at least one-third of his PhD thesis. Rasa Karapandza, finance professor at the EBS University of Business and Law in Wiesbaden, Germany, and visiting scholar at the New York University and the University of California in Berkeley, showed that Mali plagiarized the thesis with the content from other theses, authored articles, site of the Agency of Privatization of Serbia and Wikipedia by publishing several examples.
In February 2018, a group of professors and doctors of philosophy delivered a request to the Belgrade University’s Rectorate to prevent the promotion of Mali into the doctor of philosophy and to annul his PhD altogether.
(Danas, Pescanik, N1, 22.10.2019)
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