News and Events
June 02, 2022

Honored for commitment to building the first University of Applied Sciences in Kosovo

The University of Applied Sciences Ferizaj in Kosovo owes a lot to Alexander Petutschnigg and Michael Ebner. The two long-time employees at the FH Salzburg have contributed significantly to the establishment of the first University of Applied Sciences in Kosovo. For their outstanding commitment, they have now been awarded an honorary doctorate by the FH Ferizaj. Alexander Petutschnigg and Michael Ebner may now use the honorary title Dr.h.c..

Alexander Petutschnigg (right) and Michael Ebner (left) © FH Salzburg

14 years ago, Alexander Petutschnigg started his cooperation together with Michael Ebner in Kosovo. The partnership was particularly supported by Erhard Busek, the first rector of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, who sadly passed away recently. At that time, he was the Balkan coordinator of the EU and with his expertise and farsightedness he linked the FH Salzburg with the responsible persons in Kosovo. The goal was to support the war-torn country in the improvement of the quality of education. The connecting element was the natural product wood, which, as in Austria, also plays an important role in Kosovo. The topics of developing renewable energy and strengthening design training were the central pillars of the cooperation.

Alexander Petutschnigg, Head of the Wood Technology & Timber Construction and Smart Building programs, and Michael Ebner, Senior Lecturer at the Wood Technology & Timber Construction and Design & Product Management programs, accepted the challenge and developed a close partnership with the University of Applied Sciences in Ferizaj over many years. Until the Corona pandemic, at least once a year a visit to Kosovo was on the agenda. In the early years, the focus was on building infrastructure (e.g. workshops) and expanding business collaborations, but student exchanges between the two universities also grew. Since 2010, regular joint workshops, conferences, lectures and projects have ensured the quality development of the education. Ulrike Szigeti, FH Vice Rector for International Affairs and international coordinator of the degree programs, has been at the side of the two teachers from the beginning with her expertise for the expansion of the international partnership and the integration into European programs.

Alexander Petutschnigg expresses his joy about the honor:

"Probably this success is the greatest achievement of my career and I am glad to have mastered the efforts. Because the cooperation has resulted in a new university in which 1,790 students are currently studying. Numerous companies in Kosovo have been organizing a career fair to be held on the occasion of the graduation ceremonies for the past five years. There are far more job offers than there are graduates - and that in Kosovo."

Michael Ebner appreciates the trusting cooperation that is a basis for success:

"The consistent implementation of the jointly formulated goals in the real educational landscape of Kosovo has always been characterized by mutual trust. The future development will strengthen the positioning in the international educational and working environment. Through the close and long-standing cooperation, colleagues became friends."

An honorary doctorate is an honorary distinction awarded by a university or faculty that can be conferred for special academic, scientific, cultural or public service. A person awarded an honorary doctorate is called an honorary doctor (in Latin Doctor honoris causa, abbreviated Dr. h. c.).