The Albania government has ordered the immediate closure of 18 higher education institutions after an inspection report uncovered problems with the diplomas they issued.
Prime Minister Edi Rama has ordered the closure of 18 colleges suspected of handing out dubious diplomas and degrees.
Highlighting the findings of the report on Monday, Rama noted that in the space of only a few years “32,000 degrees have been generated from the private university system, half them issued by one university.
“We have issued 900 degrees for foreigners when there are no lectures in foreign languages,” he added.
Alongside the immediate closure of 18 higher education institutions, the government on Tuesday suspended enrollment in 13 others.
Over recent decades nearly 50 private universities have opened in Albania and accusations have persisted for years that many were little more than “diploma factories”.
One of the institutions that is being closed, Kristal University, was hit by scandal in 2012, when it emerged that it had issued a degree to the son of Umberto Bossi, leader of Italy’s right-wing Northern League.
An investigation by local prosecutor’s later deemed Renzo Bossi’s degree a fake as he had never set foot in Albania.
Although many welcomed that news that some private universities will be closed, the opposition slated the decision as over-drastic.
“The decision comes without warning, lacks transparency, will be a shock to many students and will have a financial cost for many families,” opposition leader Lulzim Basha said.