Rochester Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 100-111
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper describes the creation, development, and financing of a private, not-for-profit American university in Kosovo. Established in 2003, the American University in Kosovo (AUK) is an educational partnership between an international philanthropic foundation—The American University in Kosovo Foundation—and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)—one of the largest private universities in the United States. The foundation and RIT have successfully partnered for the past six years to establish Kosovo’s only private non-profit university in which students earn an accredited degree. AUK currently enrolls over 470 undergraduate and graduate students who pay private tuition. In addition, the collaboration between RIT and the foundation has attracted substantial support from private individuals, corporations, foundations, and from the U.S. government. The AUK/RIT curriculum is unique in its technical and career orientation. RIT is a cooperative education institution placing a great deal of emphasis on the development of applied technical knowledge in fields such as infrastructure development, resource development, engineering, management and policy. AUK successfully implements the RIT undergraduate and graduate curriculum in Kosovo, upholding RIT’s high standards. The success of this model is evidenced by the high cooperative education program placement and permanent position placement rates of AUK students. As a part of the degree requirement, all AUK students successfully secure paid cooperative education experiences during their study and virtually all of the graduating students secure permanent placement upon graduation. This happens despite Kosovo’s unemployment rate of over 40%. By producing graduates with relevant technical and managerial skills, the university has transformed several important sectors of the Kosovo economy and serves as a model for reform of the education sector. AUK serves as a case study for the role of non-profit private universities in developing countries. Private non-profit universities are common throughout the U.S. but are not well established elsewhere. In the U.S., education laws, tax laws, accreditation systems, and accounting standards, are in place to support such institutions. Creating this enabling institutional framework is fundamental to encouraging this educational model. As non-profits, these types of universities are more “mission driven” than “profit driven” and often better align with larger development objectives. Because they are privately financed through tuition and philanthropic donations, they do not typically demand additional financial support from the government. This paper will describe the creation and structure of the foundation, AUK, and its partnership with RIT. It will also illustrate the importance of enabling institutional framework to support such collaboration which is often missing in developing economies. The specific goals of our paper are: To describe the operational, financial, structural, and governance dimensions of a private non-profit university in the context of a developing economy; To outline the enabling legal and institutional framework that must exist at a national level to encourage the creation of private non-profit universities; To summarize the benefits and limitations of such non-profit private universities; To describe the technical “career education” model at AUK and its contribution to workforce and economic development in Kosovo.