A faculty in crisis at the Slovak University of Technology

A faculty in crisis at the Slovak University of Technology

In June of this year, one of Slovakia's most respected university faculties, STU's Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies, suddenly lost two-thirds of its academic staff, with eight of them dismissed and 18 resigning in protest - this among the latest developments in a crisis that has engulfed the faculty since January, when the former dean, Maria Bielikova, was fired from her academic post without warning by the new dean, Ivan Kotuliak. The crisis has polarised members of the faculty and led to a formal proposal by the University Rector that the new dean be removed from his post. Jonathan McCormick speaks with several people close to the situation, on both sides, to learn how the crisis reached this critical point, and what impact all this could have on the future of the faculty.

STU FIIT Máte problém s prehrávaním? Nahláste nám chybu v prehrávači.


Mária Bieliková has given us the following statement in response to Monika Karoliová's claim, that the University 'Kvestor' (in English 'Bursar') found problems in the faculty's contracts and tax payments, and decided to change the university rules for that reason.

"The Bursar (Kvestor) never confirmed that there were mistakes or that we as a faculty did not pay the taxes correctly, nor did he ask the faculty's financial department to make an additional tax report - this was an activity carried out by the new Dean, and the Bursar just accepted it. As far as I know the only statement the Bursar made is that we are taking this step as a kind of precautionary measure (as there might be more than one way to understand the tax regulations). I do not believe that he would confirm the words of Ms. Karoliova."

The Bursar could not be reached for comment in time for this story, which was originally aired on Tuesday 7th July.

The full original statement of Mária Bieliková

Here you can read Mária Bieliková's full statement that she provided to RSI for this story, or listen to it being read by our Martina Šimkovičová:

bielikova full statement Máte problém s prehrávaním? Nahláste nám chybu v prehrávači.

"I was simply fired immediately without any possibility even to know the details of what was the reason, and without any official investigation by the relevant university body who is responsible for such cases. No severance was paid to me.

The dean offered the possibility to work at the rector's office on activities related to AI. But the condition was to resign from my tenured professorship position. I refused this option as I was sure that my firing was illegal. I was not aware of any malpractice at the level that I as dean was able to affect. I put all my trust in the registrar of the faculty, who controlled all the accounting. All the audits were positive. Moreover, this method of rewarding students' research results had started already before I became dean. And it is also common in other universities.

I refused to accept a new contract as by then several things had happened. First, the dean openly declared in media that he would fire me again. Second, the preparation of the contract was dragged out, and the dean refused to include a statement on the independence of the case investigation. Moreover, in meantime the elections to the academic Senate of the faculty were declared invalid, in spite of the fact that the will of the voters was declared. Elections are the basic tool of democracy. So this all convinced me that it would be very hard to repair the faculty from the inside."

Jonathan McCormick, Photo: TASR

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