The Centre of Socio-Economic and Business Studies (COSEBS) is a recently established centre at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Tirana (FEUT). FEUT was opened in 1951 and is nowadays one of the largest and most prestigious higher education institutions in Albania. COSEBS operates as a financially independent body within FEUT while its board of directors, its status, rules and regulations, assure its ownership to the staff of the faculty and the institution itself; thus it involves all the human, managerial, professional and technical resources of the FEUT.
In the past, the achievement of concrete results on the research component of FEUT’s academic mission proved hard within previously existing structures; hence , in 2012, FEUT started exploring the alternatives of finding a better configuration of administration of resources that would help in effectively meeting faculty members’ aspirations, their research interests as well as international donors’ requirements and facilitation of bureaucratic procedures. The new structure, which was established in August 2013, has as main objectives: fostering research, being more competitive in obtaining external funding and addressing high-impact research and policy initiatives.
FEUT-COSEBS also aims to carry out collaborative research and assists its members in research project application, implementation, management, monitoring and evaluation processes by providing the required structures and logistics. In addition, it engages in organizing conferences, events and other activities, building upon FEUT’s solid experience for organization of international conferences and events. This range of activities is in line with the broad mission of building sustainable research capacities and improving the quality of research carried out by its members, focusing on how social and economic science research can interact with and impact our society, culture, the sustainable growth, social development and integration process.
FEUT-COSEBS grounds upon a set of core values including gender and young researchers’ equality and inclusivity, and their collaboration together would allow a more effective research in social sciences. This collaboration is a challenge and at the same time an opportunity for our institution. It is a challenge because the improvement of research quality, capacity building, inclusion of young and female researchers and the formation of sustainable transition-relevant policy-oriented researchers are considered as complex long-term processes. Yet, in spite of a common general agreement on their importance, in Albania there are obstacles that are present on the way to their accomplishment. Confronting these challenges and passing these obstacles is at the focus of COSEBS.
Strategically speaking, the provision of support for research applications, involvement of young researchers and academics in policy discussions, promotion of interactions between science, society and policymakers, will benefit not only the group and their home institution, but is also a requirement for the sustainable long-term capacity building of the country. Yet, the recent financial constraints that Western Balkans countries face and the cutting of government research funding, make early-career researchers a vulnerable group of workforce with important consequences for future economic and social development path of the country – that’s the reason why COSEBS-FEUT is an opportunity to lock on important research projects that have the potential to generate long term benefits to the country in its path of economic/social transformation and development.
It’s a well known fact that the benefits of effectively building schemes or collaboration programs for economic and social development materialize in long term. The knowledge transmission contributes further and enhances the positive effects of such benefits – this constitutes another opportunity to our institution as experience is passed from our researchers and members to the new generation through the teaching process. The experience of COSEBS builds upon the experience of its 143 academic staff members, more than 60 percent of which are women, 35 Professors, 20 Associate Professors, 36 Doctors of Philosophy and 52 Masters of Science.
In Albania, past experiences have shown that the voice of senior academics was taken into consideration and has played an important role in influencing public opinion and policymakers in making important decisions that have shaped Albanian transition path towards a democratic and prosperous society. We strongly believe that the transition dynamics urge for lifelong learning and sustainable capacity building which will have long lasting benefits at the institutional, national and regional level. Thus, we cannot but re-emphasize that our contribution lies on access to relevant technologies and the provision of key infrastructures, in particular in terms of access to research, knowledge and training.
Although COSEBS is newly established, the national, regional and international partners of FEUT remain COSEBS’ core partners. Not only FEUT has been part of joint regional and international projects, but its academic staff has also individually applied and been involved in various research, teaching and training, and other projects, as well as in policy analysis and decision-making processes. The list of collaborators and partners in the Western Balkans starts with a considerable number of PhD students from neighboring countries and extends with the most prestigious institutions and universities in Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, international networking capacities of the FEUT extend beyond the region, covering most of the European countries, as well as USA.