Is the affair with Siniša Mali’s PhD thesis a never ending story?

Norway’s research and higher education minister, Sandra Borch, resigned recently after reports that she copied parts of her master’s thesis a decade ago. This is exactly how long the proceedings against Serbian Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, have been going on in Serbia, whose doctoral dissertation was challenged when back when he was the Belgrade mayor.

Siniša Mali’s doctorate “survived” the change of three rectors and four rector’s mandates and the case still hasn’t been resolved.

In the meantime, Mali earned his doctorate at a university in Slovakia and that degree was recognized in Serbia through the Qualifications Agency.

As Danas wrote, on November 17 last year, the Board for Professional Ethics initiated a new procedure to determine the non-academic behaviour of Mali, but there is no news as to what has happened with the procedure so far.

Miodrag Jovanović, a professor at Belgrade University’s Faculty of Law, believes that the case of Siniša Mali is in many ways a paradigm of the current political regime.

“This whole story roughly coincides with the length of Aleksandar Vučić’s rule. But more importantly, it embodies the complete absence of legal and any other responsibility of the people in power who are caught in a wrongdoing. This case is an indication that there is no equality before the law in Vučić’s Serbia and that the people in power are more equal than other citizens. This case is also a sad testimony that this government is able to target the Constitutional Court in order to defend its system of impunity. How else to characterize the decision of the Constitutional Court according to which the University has the right to investigate whether someone has plagiarized a doctorate, but not to take away the title of Doctor of Science if plagiarism is detected?” says Professor Jovanović.

The professor of the Faculty of Biology, Biljana Stojković, says that she regrets that this case was not resolved on time and in line with the relevant University’s procedures. She adds that she is not surprised that it has been prolonged for so long, bearing in mind the autocratic behaviour of the political elite.  

„My impression is that this case will drag on as long as necessary. The University could have reacted a little more forcefully and decisively and finally resolve this matter. However, it seems to me that there is no strength for that yet and that the University is trying to balance between academic truth and the political will in the country. I am categorically against this balancing act and the University must stick to its academic morals, honour, reputation and knowledge,” Professor Stojković adds.

(Danas, 02.02.2024)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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