Our Work

Quick Facts IBCM

Duration Founded in 2010 (potentially operating for indefinite period once operating independently)
Financed by Swedish Development Adency (SIDA), Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch Ministro of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) in Pristina, Department for International Development (DFID), Swiss Development Corporation (SDC), European Union
Overall budget phase 3 € 16.0 million
Spent in 2014 € 2,244,750
Objective To increase the social and economic stability in northern Kosovo, through cross-community business education and entrepreneurship development
Partners International consortium, consisting of the Lillebaelt Academy of Professional Higher Education (EAL), the University College Lillebaelt, European educational network, SPACE
Students enrolled 269
Graduation 47 students graduated with bachelor’s degree (double degree from IBCM andEAL, Denmark)43 students graduated with academy profession (AP) degree

Project Description and Goal

The IBCM is an internationally registered not-for-profit educational foundation. It is the only regional provider of higher vocational education, offering academy profession degrees in marketing and management, public administration, and environmental and agricultural management, along with bachelor’s top-up degrees in international sales and marketing, public service management, and environmental and agricultural management. Courses are integrated into the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. Besides catering to regular full-time students, it offers in-service training for public officials and staff of businesses and NGOs. The IBCM is also an “International English Language Testing System” and “English for Speakers of Other Languages” registration centre and testing venue of the British Council.

IBCM’s overall objective is to increase the social and economic stability in northern Kosovo through cross-community business education and the development of entrepreneurship. IBCM is at present the only post-secondary inter-ethnic educational institution in Kosovo.

The IBCM aims to improve employability through study programmes with a heavy focus on practice and skills, as well as to facilitate graduates to start their own enterprises. All courses are taught in English by qualified teaching staff. Graduates not only possess the necessary skills needed to work for businesses and public institutions locally, but IBCM’s strong international orientation also prepares them for international collaboration and, in time, EU accession.

Developments in 2014

Buildings

IBCM operates on two campuses, one in northern Mitrovica and one on the south bank of the Ibar River, which divides the city. The new 2,000m2 North campus building was officially opened on 6 March 2014 by representatives from the British, Dutch, Swedish and Swiss embassies.

Construction of the new IBCM South campus was delayed because the municipality of Mitrovica had misappropriated land to a private business that overlapped with the land earlier legally allocated to the IBCM. Meanwhile, the new mayor has compensated IBCM’s loss of land with land adjacent to the remaining, unoccupied land. Construction started in November 2014 and will be completed in late 2015.

Students and Alumni

The general intake of new students for the academic year 2014/2015 for both locations was 94 students, which is up from 70 students in the previous year but short of the target of 125. Out of the 94 students, 42 enrolled on the North campus and 52 on the South campus.

Student numbers 2010-2014

March 2010 September 2010 September 2011 September 2012 September 2013 September 2014
15 94 193 257 272 269

In May, IBCM held its first bachelor graduation ceremony, where 47 students received both a bachelor’s degree and a double degree from IBCM’s Danish partner college, Lillebaelt Academy of Professional Higher Education. In response to this, the student service began a comprehensive database of alumni activities. At eight months post-graduation, 75% of first-generation alumni were either employed or in some cases pursuing higher education. This represents an especially solid employability rate in light of the general youth unemployment rate of graduates in Kosovo (55.3%; Kosovo Agency of Statistics 2013). Of those who indicated that they were employed, all but one were in full-time positions. A strong majority of alumni reported that they were employed in the same field as their studies at IBCM.

Regarding entrepreneurship, 55% of alumni reported that they plan to start their own business within the next five years. At the same time, 81% either agree strongly or agree somewhat that their studies at the IBCM furnished them with the skills required to start a business independently.

Student Satisfaction

The 2014 alumni survey found that 95% of respondents from the first graduating cohort either strongly agree or agree somewhat that the IBCM prepared them well for the labour market. These represent the two strongest responses on a seven-point Likert scale. 95% of respondents also expressed a strong degree of satisfaction with their experience at IBCM, and 95% agreed completely that they would recommend the IBCM to a friend or family member.

In addition, the freshman satisfaction survey conducted in 2014 explored student attitudes among the new intake. Having been asked to score their agreement with the statement “IBCM has met your expectations during their first month of studies”, the new first-semester cohort rated the IBCM with a strong satisfaction average of 5.0 on a six-point scale, where six represents the highest possible rating. This represents a modest improvement from the prior year’s result of 4.6.

Evalag Accreditation

In December of 2014, IBCM submitted a report to the Evalag accreditation agency in support of extending accreditation through January of 2018. The report addressed established goals related to both programme and institutional accreditation. In response, Evalag approved the continued accreditation of IBCM on all accounts with an update on matters of financial sustainability requested in December of 2016. The Evalag decision was also validated by the Kosovo Accreditation Agency, offering IBCM local accreditation through the same timeframe.

IBCM Conferences & Business Club

The IBCM North/South conferences were held in July 2014. With a focus on private-sector development, the conferences were designed to be networking events for participants in Kosovo and beyond. The thematic focus was on agribusiness, with panellists including experts from Sweden, Croatia and the US. Both conferences were attended by 50-60 participants, and provided a good opportunity for IBCM to develop its community and to market itself locally.

The first “Mitrovica Innovations” conference was a non-scientific conference that encouraged participation from local stakeholders in the community. It was held in July 2014 with participation from both the North and South campuses. Roughly 70 people were in attendance for the conference titled “Agribusiness Opportunities Unlimited”, which focused on agribusiness and agriculture as crucial sectors for economic development and job creation in the Mitrovica region. Besides farmers and representatives of the private sector, the conference was attended by local government officials, educational institutions and representatives of international institutions from the US, Sweden, Croatia and Macedonia.

In November 2014, IBCM began organising monthly business clubs, bringing together members of both the Albanian and Serbian business communities. Each edition is themed, with topics including “The Role of Online Marketing in the Community” and “Positioning of new Products in the Market”.

In late 2014, IBCM began planning its first scientific conference, which is to be held in September 2015. Titled “Mitrovica Innovations Scientific International Conference”, the event will focus on issues of sustainable development in the western Balkans and is targeted towards both a regional and international audience.

Success Stories 2014 and Outlook on 2015

In 2014, IBCM students completed many international internship and study-abroad experiences. One student completed an internship with the German embassy in Seoul, South Korea, while another received a scholarship to cover a semester of study abroad in Slovenia.

The first generation of IBCM alumni has also had substantial success. During the 2014-’15 academic year, five IBCM alumni applied for the USAID-sponsored Transformational Leadership Program and all five have been accepted for fully-funded masters’ studies in the United States, starting in September 2015. One student is already completing a master’s degree in education through the same scholarship programme at the University of Arkansas. For more info visit: http://usaid-tlp-sp.org/En/lajme/3/launch-of-the-transformational-leadership-program-scholarship-and-partnerships/

IBCM alumni also found employment with organisations including ProCredit Bank, TEB Bank, the Mitrovica municipality, the Initiative for Agriculture Development of Kosovo, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, Mercy Corps, Best Marketing (Belgrade), the Advocacy Centre for Democratic Culture, Tutin municipality (Serbia) and the European Centre for Minority Issues.

IBCM continues to support alumni employment through the hosting of regular career fairs, the first of which was held in 2014. The IBCM career centre also continues to develop resources and sign Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to expand on internship opportunities and build connections with employers. The 2014 Internship Survey found that 84% of supervisors from companies hosting IBCM interns would be interested in hiring the intern were a paid position to become available.

IBCM Lessons Learned

Improved marketing efforts resulted in a student intake of 94 in 2014, falling short of the goal of 125. While this represents an improvement on the previous year’s figure of 72, it is still lower than that of a few years previously. Probable reasons for this include the elimination of incentives such as free laptops, an increase in tuition fees and a decrease in the number of free dormitories provided. With these factors in mind, the current, modest upward trend is both more realistic and more sustainable than the target figures.

Despite the progress made in the area of promotions and the consequent development of the student body, contextual factors are negatively affecting growth in student numbers. These include competition from the recently established University of Pristina Faculty of Economics and the complicated nature of promotional campaigns in Northern Kosovo due to the ongoing political dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.

At the end of 2014, IBCM submitted a self-evaluation to Evalag in application for an extension of the provisional accreditation for the remainder of the period. Evalag extended institutional accreditation until 2018, but requires an additional status report on the institute’s financial sustainability at the end of 2016. Consequently, the issues of increasing student numbers and generating revenue continue to be particularly crucial for IBCM moving forward. In the interim, IBCM will continue to focus on areas such as tuition collection, revenue generation, part-time studies and cost reduction in order to ensure that financial targets are met.

In order to attain organisational sustainability, the local IBCM administrative structure needs reform. SPARK’s involvement has already been substantially reduced, but this has led to a simultaneous and sharp increase in the number of “donated” hours spent on the project, as the many priorities demand a far higher level of engagement than was originally budgeted for. To strengthen the management of the IBCM, a management team will be established chaired by the international director.

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