Community-based multilingualism meets internationalization: The University of Prizren as a nexus of intercommunity contact in Kosovo

Deutsch als Fremd- und Zweitsprache

Projektleitung: Christiane Dalton-Puffer

Projektteam Anglistik der Universität Wien: Julia Hüttner, Tatjana Bacovsky

Projektteam Germanistik der Universität Wien: Karen Schramm

Projektteam Universiteti “Ukshin Hoti” Prizren: Sejdi Sejdiu, Rezarta Ramadani, Dorinë Rakaj

Projektlaufzeit: Juli 2021 – Dezember 2022

Fördergeber: Higher Education, Research and Applied Science (HERAS) Plus der Austrian Development Agency

This project investigates the complex interaction of long-established local multilingualism with an internationalization of Higher Education at the University of Prizren, Kosovo. According to the Office of the Language Commissioner of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, Albanian, Serbian, Turkish and Bosnian are official languages in the municipality of Prizren. On a state level, the official languages in Kosovo are Albanian and Serbian. However, English enjoys co-official status in Kosovo as official documents are issued in all official languages plus English.

Embedded in and providing service for this community is the University of Prizren (UPZ). UPZ is one of the few officially trilingual European universities, with others being Bolzano, Fribourg, Lleida or Luxembourg. As in all of them, the multilingual character of UPZ is first and foremost designated to serve the needs of a multilingual local population, while trying to cater to the pressures for internationalization in higher education. Thus, UPZ’s language policy mirrors national legislation on language rights as well as the situation in the surrounding community in that it offers study programs in all three local and additionally in foreign languages.

Our research interest is thus directed at the role of Albanian, Bosnian, and Turkish in the institutional landscape of UPZ, what signs of language coexistence, competition and conflict can be observed and whether the use of languages of wider currency within the university (English, German) might counteract the dangers of division addressed in the OSCE 2008 report. While the local communities of Prizren have always spoken each other’s languages, a phenomenon still present with the generation 50+, this is no longer  true for the younger generation. Our main research focus will thus lie with the students at UPZ, but will also include voices from academic staff and university management in order to find out which forces are perceived by stakeholders to be at work in their choice of languages for inter-community communication and internationalization at the university.