The History of the University of Prishtina Center for Teaching Excellence

The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) was established in collaboration with representatives of Arizona State University - USA in 2004. After it was founded until the 2005/2006 academic year, CTE operated only at the Faculty of Philosophy, and thereafter, the Senate of University of Prishtina (UP) expanded the Center activities to all Faculty Units at the UP.
In the beginning, for the organization of professional activities the CTE was supported financially and professionally by the University of Arizona. Since 2006, the CTE managed to offer quite smaller number of trainings due to financial difficulties, and with such difficulties continued until the end of 2007.
In April 2007 in support of the TEMPUS project dedicated to "Re-functionalizing and modernization of the Centre for Teaching Excellence" the reactivation of the Centre began. During this period the CTE governing council was founded, consisting of 6 members, all professors of the University, and the coordinator.
Besides the University of Pristina, the Project was cooperated with partner universities: the University Erlangen - Nurnberg, Germany, University of Linz, Austria, and the Kosovo Education Center - KEC. As a result of the collaboration, a group of academic staff were certified (12 trainers and the coordinator) in Erlangen University in Nurnberg, Germany in the following areas: Fundamentals of Didactics in University Teaching, Presentation Skills, Activating Methods, and Student Knowledge Evaluation Procedures and Techniques.
The main purpose of the trainer certification was to strongly help in the reforming of the University of Prishtina teaching staff coherent with the modern teaching methods. In addition, CTE organized ongoing training for academic staff of the University of Pristina, with the tendency that in the future the CTE will serve outside of the University as well. Unfortunately, at the end of TEMPUS project, the functioning of the center faded.
With the initiative of the trainers and the University of Prishtina management, in 2013 in the framework of partnership with American Universities funded by the US Embassy, 4 training modules were offered by professor of Iowa State University, whereas the interest to participate in these training was huge.
The interest and initiatives of the CTE certified trainers to functionalize the Center yielded in episodic, sporadic trainings offered to UP staff in different periods of time, as was the case in 2015 and 2016 when a series of trainings were delivered. This was made possible through the support of USAID-Kosovo, MEST, and Transformational Leadership Program Scholarships and Partnerships, implemented by World Learning. During this period, a number of training modules were delivered on voluntary basis by the local trainers.
Despite the willingness and continuous effort of the certified trainers, the lack of legal basis and lack of continuous institutional support posed the main obstacle for making the UP CTE fully functional.
However, in 2017 several crucial steps towards making CTE fully operational were taken. The University of Prishtina CTE was allocated premises (Trainers’ room & Coordinator’s office) in the University Library building which were fully equipped by the courtesy Of World Learning. By the end of the same year the Decision for the establishment of the UP CTE was taken by the UP Steering Council. Apart from this, the Regulation regarding the structure and the principles the UP CTE activity was also approved by the UP Steering Council. Furthermore, the Regulation for Systematization of Work Places at the CTE was amended in order to include CTE as a functional unit among other units and offices of the UP. This regulation foresees that in the CTE apart from the Head, a coordinator and an administrative officer will be hired as full-time employees.
By the adoption of these documents, the constitution of the Council of Trainers and the appointment of the Head of the UP CTE was made possible. All the steps taken in 2017 have transformed CTE into an effective and fully operational unit with long-term operation perspective.
Following the measures related to making CTE fully operational and in order to practically demonstrate the functionality in compliance with its mission, during November and December 2017, the CTE commenced its activity by two rounds of trainings in basic modules of Teaching in Higher Education. Through these trainings around 40 newly appointed University of Prishtina professors and assistants were trained and certified.
In January 2018, the coordinator, having a twofold role – the one of supporting CTE activities, and at the same time delivering technology-related courses (the use of CourseSites) was contracted through the support of World Learning. However, apart from the position of a coordinator, it is also envisioned that the CTE opens a position for an administrative officer. Moreover, the UP Steering Council approved the allocation of the budget for CTE activities.
In accordance with its mission for the advancement of academic capacities, the development of education systems, and the promotion of effective and quality teaching, the CTE, aiming at increasing its training capacities and expanding its pool of certified trainers, announced a call for the UP academic staff to apply for the “Training of Trainers” (TOT) program in mid-February 2018.
The TOT program, being a joint project designed in cooperation with World Learning, State University of Arizona, and UP Center for Teaching Excellence was planned to be implemented during the period March – September 2018.
The training program comprised modules on most recent approaches to learning and teaching in higher education and also included the integration of most advanced technology in facilitating the learning and teaching process; hence the improvement of the performance of the instructors, as well as of the students’ results.
The TOT program was envisioned to be implemented in four stages. Three of the stages of the program were delivered at the UP CTE, while stage four was realized in the United States of America.
After the review of applications and the interview process, 12 applicants from different academic units of the UP were selected as trainees in the TOT program and the process of the trainings started as envisioned. The TOT Program was concluded in October 2018 hence the UP Center for Teaching Excellence doubled its training capacity and is enriching its offer with new modules designed by senior and junior trainers.
The CTE submitted the request and was granted extension of the project for one more stage. Consequently, in March 2019 a team of certified trainers realized a study visit in US universities and were trained in academic integrity issues and are now in the process of designing new courses to be delivered in the near future.
Upon the request of the management of the University of Mitrovica “Isa Boletini”, the CTE has commenced the implementation of a 3-stage project for training of the UMIB staff. During the year 2020 all UMIB staff will receive training in “Teaching in Higher Education”, whereas in 2021 they will be taken to the next level through the training in “Planning and Implementing Teaching in Higher Education”.
From its re-functionalizing in November 2017 till now, the CTE managed to train and certify the total of 586 full time staff at two levels of training in most recent methodologies in learning and teaching in higher education. Encouraging is the fact that many of the staff certified at basic and advanced level of training at the CTE have expressed interest in attending other courses provided by the CTE. 
In this context, it is worth mentioning that the UP CTE has won a University Support Grant project sponsored by the US Embassy in Prishtina. The winning project “Through Collaboration and Innovation towards Sustainable Development” with its three components: Equipment of the CTE with relevant technology and books; Analysis of UP staff needs for training and reporting; and CTE trainers ND Specific trainings to be delivered for the UP staff by Professor Laura Cruz from Pennsylvania State University, will give an important impetus to the further development and expansion of CTE activities.
By the adoption of the Regulation on the mode of financing the services offered by Professional Centers of the University of Prishtina, the mode of compensation of the staff and distribution of the generated income, a new chapter is opened for the sustainable function and development of the CTE. The CTE is now capable of generating its own income by providing trainings for the staff of HEIs other than University of Prishtina in the country and in the region, as well as to all individuals who are interested in building their teaching capacities by attending various training certification courses of a range of focus to be designed and delivered at the CTE.