Allegedly, a good reputation is very important to Prime Minister Ana Brnabić when it comes to appointing government officials. However, neither the Prime Minister nor her chief of staff minds that at least two ministers with shady university diplomas are members of her cabinet.
It all started with Minister Siniša Mali and his doctorate. A request for the then-mayor of Belgrade not to be awarded the title of doctor of science due to plagiarism was submitted to the University of Belgrade’s Rectorate by a group of 330 academics and university professors. The case dragged on for years, until Ivanka Popović was appointed the head of the University of Belgrade, and when students from the 1u5 Miliona movement starting protesting in front of the Rectorate building demanding annulment of Mali’s PhD thesis.
Siniša Mali first claimed that the claims of plagiarism were a blatant lie, and then he posted on his Instagram profile all the diplomas and recognitions he gained in Serbia and abroad.
Contrary to all expectations, Siniša Mali’s doctorate was annulled, because on page 51 he literally copied other people’s work, without citing the source, which the University assessed as non-academic behaviour and declared his PhD thesis invalid. It was the Prime Minister and Serbian President who defended Mali, with Vučić who even said that a government minister did not have to have a doctoral degree, not even a university one.
However, the Administrative Court in Belgrade has nullified the recent decision of the University of Belgrade Professional Ethics Committee, which earlier annulled the PhD degree of the Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali. The case was returned to the line authority for reconsideration.
Stefanović and a college that “disappeared”
Somehow, coinciding with Mali’s affair, the then Minister of the Interior, Nebojša Stefanović had to face a similar issue, i.e. claims that his university diploma was fake.
Namely, the members of the Alliance for Serbia accused Minister Stefanović of forgery, because at the Belgrade-based private faculty called Megatrend nostrified the diploma he got from a British school that did not exist.
The Ministry of Education rejected the request to examine Stefanović’s diploma, and just when the case was about to be another cover up, the owner of Megatrend University, Mića Jovanović, gave a public statement. In an attempt to repair the reputation of his university, Jovanović showed the Tanjug news agency Nebojša Stefanović’s student files. In short, according to Jovanović, Stefanović was present at the lectures and took exams at the Sava Centre.
However, upon further examination, it was revealed that Megatrend’s alleged branch in London, which issued Stefanović with his diploma, never existed. The N1 reporters found out that there was no evidence of such school at the registered address in London. To make matters worse, British professors, whose names were on the list of lecturers provided by Jovanović, strongly refuted any connection with the Megatrend University.
Everybody has a PhD
The university diploma and doctorate of the new member of the SNS, Aleksandar Šapić, have been talked about publicly for a long time.
A large segment of Šapić’s dissertation is a direct translation of parts of the book “Selling and Sales Management”, written by David Jobber and Geoffrey Lancaster. Certain segments of the book can be found online. Šapić allegedly received his undergraduate degree from the privately run Union College.
CINS reported back in 2016 that the current governor of the National Bank of Serbia, Jorgovanka Tabaković, also used someone else’s material without properly citing the source.
A member of the Democratic Party (DS), Balša Božović, also fraudulent activities regarding a doctorate of a Serbian Progressive Party and National Parliament member, Aleksandar Martinović. In the period from 2005 to 2009, he published the same paper six times, only under a different title, and thus obtained the right to become a doctor of science.
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