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The University supports the democratisation in Western Balkans

For two consecutive years, Halmstad University has offered an international crash course in public governance by order of the Swedish Institute. Last week, 30 participants from Western Balkans who are all actively working with or within public governance, were on campus in Halmstad with the purpose to contribute to further democratisation in their home countries.

 ”I believe it is of great interest for the Balkans to learn how they can work cross-border and benefit from each other.”

Sara Svensson, Senior Lecturer in Political Science

The two-week course Collaborative Governance in a Digital Era consists of one week given digitally and one given on site at Halmstad University. Public officials and politicians within public governance from Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia gathered together with teachers and coordinators from Halmstad University on the top floor of Trade Center, where the onsite course component was held last week.

Collaboration and digitalisation

The course is part of a programme run by the Swedish Institute, a public agency that facilitates international exchange and partnerships to build interest and trust in Sweden around the world. In the programme, several universities offer modules which conclude different dimensions in public governance. The module of Halmstad University cover collaboration and digitalisation. Sara Svensson, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, was present to lecture.

“The participants will take part of research and build knowledge of what makes collaborations effective and how they become influenced by technological possibilities, that is, mostly by digitalisation”, says Sara Svensson.

In addition to building knowledge of how collaborations occur in the Nordic region, the participants were offered a chance to reflect upon their own collaboration and digitalisation and share experiences with each other.

The group was on a visit to Copenhagen at Nordic Council of Ministers, which is the official body for inter-governmental cooperation in the Nordic region, and at Greater Copenhagen, a collaborative organisation promoting growth and development in southern Sweden and eastern Denmark.

“We want to demonstrate that Sweden does not just cooperate with the major cities Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm, but also with our neighbouring countries. I believe it is of great interest for the Balkans to learn how they can work cross-border and benefit from each other”, says Sara Svensson.

Mörblond kvinna i axellångt hår och lila glasögon ler mot kameran.

Sara Svensson arranged for the participants to meet students from the Programme in Political Sceience at a collaboration event about EU's International Democracy Day.

Corruption in Western Balkans

The purpose of the course is to reinforce the public governance on Western Balkans and thereby the democratisation. Hysmir Idrizi from Albania, who has a Bacherlor’s degree in International and Commercial law, did not hesitate for a second to apply when he heard about the course.

“My interest for the Nordic Region manifested when I was young and played an international soccer cup in Norway. It was when I started studying law that I realised that the Nordic countries’ legal systems are more realistic, effective, and pragmatic”, says Hysmir Idrizi, fascinated.

Today, Hysmir Idrizi works as a coordinator for a development project with a focus on higher education, which is funded by the Albanian-American Development Fund. He implies that a law degree today is not enough to be up to date. A combination of skills is needed, of which specifically digitalisation interests Hysmir Idrizi greatly.

“It is crucial to implement digital tools in Albania since the corruption within public governance is on problematic levels. The prospect after finishing this course is to contribute to the academic world by writing a research paper in which I intend to present reasons why Albania is ranked 110th in the Corruption Index”, says Hysmir Idrizi.

En mörkhårig man i skägg ler mot kameran.

Hysmir Idrizi believes that digitalisation in public governance can be an effective action against the corruption in Albania.

Upcoming master's programme

The course does not only offer interchange between the Balkan participants. The University itself has the ambition to offer education in public governance. Competence development in public governance is currently limited. In the light of this, the University is developing a master’s programme in public governance which will be open for international applicants. Major parts of the crash course in public governance will be included in the master’s programme.

“It is very exciting and valuable to take in a diversified group and in that way learn how to best design the education programme”, says Sara Svensson.

Text: Katarina Tran
Photo: Albin Edin