By Rafaela PRIFTI/
I attended the RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) orientation at the General Consulate of Kosovo on Wednesday evening. My expectation was that I would meet a couple of prospective students and families. Instead, it was an informative discussion and a mind-expanding education involving an accomplished presenter, two alumni and a media colleague. For a New York State resident, Rochester Institute of Technology might be the local private school that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in its well-known engineering and applied sciences with a strong focus on the co-op program that ensures one year worth of work experience on the graduate’s resume. For a member of the Albanian-American community, RIT offers a lot more to explore and experience. Since the early 2000s, RIT and the American University in Kosovo Foundation have established a partnership, namely RIT Kosovo (AUK). Mr. Barlet Gojani, the Development Manager of the Kosovo campus said that the RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) is the only private, non-profit and fully accredited American academic institution in the Western Balkans region. Looking back at the opening of the University shortly after the Kosovo War ended, Mr. Gojani mentioned that former U.S. President Bill Clinton gave one of the first lectures and offered encouraging words of wisdom: “I can promise you that these walls may not be as good as you want them to be, but the education will be!” Indeed, in 2004, the university relocated to its present campus near the capital’s Germia Park, a short ride from Prishtina’s center. Recently, it celebrated its 16th anniversary and is still the only institution of higher learning to award US Degrees in Kosovo. According to the brochure, with a recent name change to RIT Kosovo (A.U.K), the university is highly regarded in the region as it provides a high quality education to students from Kosovo and from over 20 countries. As far as Academic Course offerings, after the first two years of General Education, the available areas of concentrations are: Management and Entrepreneurship, Public Policy and Governance, Economics and Statistics, Graphic Design and Multimedia, Web and Mobile Computing (IT), Energy Policy Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies and Individualized Study where “Students have the opportunity to create their undergraduate programs from two or more professional areas of study with a strong foundation in the social sciences, through RIT’s School of Individualized Study.” In his presentation, Mr. Gojani placed emphasis on the undergraduate degree program offered at RIT Kosovo (A.U.K), namely the RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Arts and Science (BSc). At this point, the First Secretary of the Consulate General of the Republic of Kosovo in New York, Mr. Butrint Ymeri, sitting at the presentation, gently reached across the table with his IPhone to show us a picture of his RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) Diploma. The co-host of the evening, Consulate’s Counselor, Ms. Albana Bylykbashi proudly announced that Butrint was “an alum” of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K). How is that for a success story? To finish the point of academics, Mr. Gojani expanded on the graduate level program, ie Master of Science in Professional Studies, “a two-year nationally accredited degree awarded by Rochester Institute of Technology, New York.” In terms of campus size and data, “the institution presently serves approximately 500 undergraduate students, and over 1000 additional students annually enroll in short-term non-credit classes often tailored to local work-force demands. With 95% of graduates employed after completing their degrees, student success rate is deemed exceptional.”
The tuition at the RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) is a fraction of its New York campus so the return in the education investment is considerable. With reference to Financial Aid, the merit and need based scholarships are available to all students as are payment plans. “Every year our income is re-invested in our institution in the form of scholarships and new equipment for our students. In 2018, over 65% of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) students who attended received merit-based scholarships.” To that end, the Kosovo-based Development Manager, announced that one of the two annual fund-raising events by the esteemed Board of Trustees was taking place the following night at the Harvard Club in New York City. “Support Kosovo’s Next Success Story” will raise scholarship funds to benefit promising students, the invitation said. The past and present key note speakers at the Gala include statesmen, distinguished dignitaries and leading scientists.
The interactive tone of the evening made it easy for anyone to interject without a formal invitation. Mr. Yll Zagragja, current Board Member of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) and a graduate of class 2008, shared his personal experience as someone who overcame the limitations imposed by the Serbian regime on Kosovo’s education system at the turn of the century. For him, RIT, then operating under the name of American University in Kosovo was more an opportunity to develop character, self-discipline and lasting work ethic as the foundations for future accomplishment. He leads a hugely successful full-serviced Accounting, Financial Management, Consulting Business, Zagragja and Associates. With eloquence and modesty, Mr. Zagragja related the importance of adapting the American values in terms of embodying certain principles that guide the work behavior which leads to personal and professional satisfaction. To further illustrate the point of a generation that is impacting the future of the people and the country, Mr. Gojani noted that currently four members of the Kosovo’s Parliament representing different political parties are graduates of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K), including the current Minister of Economy of the Republic of North Macedonia. ‘Driving Progress’ is the goal that is highlighted in the website, where the message of the RIT President, David C. Munson Jr. reads: RIT is one of the top universities in the nation working at the intersection of technology, the arts and design. We are a university that is shaping the future and improving the world through creativity and innovation … We put a high value on bringing goodness to the world. After the orientation night at the Consulate General of Kosovo, I contacted Rochester Institute of Technology in New York to get their perspective. Mr. Jim Myers, the Associate Provost for Global Education, said that he believes that the partnership between RIT and AUKF (American University in Kosovo Foundation) is exemplary in terms of meeting the goal we set out to achieve. And to illustrate even further, he related that at the fundraiser on Friday, November 14, he “had shared stories of my earliest meetings with the founding brothers and sisters of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K), and recalled the vision they had then to produce the future leaders in business, science and politics for Kosova. We can now say that RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) students are leaders in all of these areas.”
For anyone who is considering obtaining a higher-level education at a great value with exceptional prospects of employment, the doors of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) open the path to success, particularly the Albanian-American student community.
To take the first step, visit the website and complete online application at www.kosovo.rit.edu