Top private higher education that promotes hands-on approach and experiential learning.
In the past 25 years, we have achieved a lot. We have grown into a strong brand for quality higher education in Croatia, says Mr. Don Hudspeth, President and Dean of RIT Croatia. Our programs have been completed by more than 2,800 graduates who are now building careers and setting trends in various industries, in more than 40 countries around the world, says Mr Hudspeth.
- RIT Croatia celebrates 25 years in Croatia this year. How would you describe the past 25 years in terms of development and business conditions? Can you give us more details about your development and growth in Croatia?
September 18 this year we marked exactly 25 years since our organization, once known as ACMT or the “American College from Dubrovnik”, started delivering American higher education programs in Croatia. The Croatian Ministry responsible for education at the time initiated the establishment of private higher education institutions and chose the prestigious American private university, Rochester Institute of Technology, from New York, USA, as a partner in the aforementioned efforts. Certainly one of the reasons for choosing RIT as a partner in this effort was the reputation of the American university related to the quality of its program studies.
Our achievements are even more significant when we add to it the challenging local market in which we operate. However, what we are seeing is the growing need for quality, modern education that meets the needs of the dynamic world in which we live. Such a need comes primarily from employers, as well as our students and their parents. The (global) successes of our students and alumni testify that we are very successful in meeting those demands and needs.
Over the past 25 years we have assumed a position of a pioneer not only in opening doors to private higher education in Croatia, but also in offering a top education system that promotes hands-on approach and experiential learning. This system further equips our students with all the necessary hard and soft skills that enable them to be ready for any and all challenges of the business world. Aside from the support from our parent university and the expertize of our amazing faculty and staff, we have always cooperated very closely with the industry, both in the adaptation and further development of the programs curriculum, through cooperative education program, etc. I am very pleased when I hear that the industry is seeking our students because they are “resourceful”, “have a broad education”, “think critically and ask the right questions”, “are proactive…” and the like. This means that we as an organization are doing our job well.
- What is unique about RIT Croatia?
The most obvious uniqueness is that we are an American college providing American higher education in Croatia. The focus of the education offered by RIT is the adequate preparation of students for the needs of employers, that is, the global labor market. We achieve this through RIT’s education system, which combines:
- high quality program studies that regularly meet rigorous European and American standards,
- experiential learning which includes a mandatory cooperative education program,
- multidisciplinary and T-shaped education, which we provide through an adequate combination of core program courses and general education courses,
- adequate development of hard and soft skills,
- individualized approach to students which ensures a high quality student experience – in the classroom and outside it.
Quality application of what has been learned in practice through various forms of experiential learning is actually the key factor in the education we offer – either through projects, simulations and actual company projects, or our cooperative education program. Namely, we were the first in this region to introduce a unique co-op program based on the model of RIT, which implies that during the course of studies students do 400-800 hours (depending on the program) of practical work in the field of the chosen study. In this way, students gain not only valuable work experience, but also have the opportunity to find out if a certain field of work, organization, organizational culture suits them, and if they see themselves in something like that in the future. When we add up all the hours of mandatory co-ops that our students have completed in companies from 1997 to the present day, it is interesting that more than 450 years of co-ops have been completed in almost 5,000 companies around the world with more than 6,500 mentors.
- Which programs do you offer? What would you recommend to potential students of RIT Croatia?
Today, RIT Croatia represents a strong European institution, and a global campus of RIT. We offer higher education American programs in two locations – Dubrovnik (since 1997) and Zagreb (since 2011):
- Undergraduate programs (4) – graduates are awarded with Croatian and American diploma:
- Global Business Management BS
- Hospitality and Tourism Management BS
- New Media Design BFA
- Web and Mobile Computing BS
- As part of RIT Croatia’s life-long learning initiatives, we are facilitating the opportunity for students to earn Master of Science degrees from Rochester Institute of Technology, at RIT Croatia’s Zagreb campus: MS degree in Organizational Leadership and Innovation, and MS degree in Information Technology and Analytics
The New Media Design BFA is a novelty on the Croatian market that we are extremely proud of. It is an American program that is multidisciplinary and combines the fields of design, art, visual communications, technology and programming. This study creates digital media experts of the present and future, and we started with the first generation this fall.
When we talk about higher education in general, what I always emphasize is the importance of the QUALITY of education, especially considering the dynamic changes in world we live in. Education that can respond to the challenges of the labor market, and the world of the future in general, is the one that is high-quality, multidisciplinary and lifelong. So my main recommendation to all future students is not only to think about areas of study, but different schools as well. Visit the schools, and talk to professors, students, and alumni to see if what the school offers suits your needs. Choosing higher education is really important because in a way it implies choosing your career. So, inquire, and do the research. At RIT Croatia, future students have the opportunity to spend one day as our students, to get the look and feel of the education they can expect here.
- People are the key to success, in addition to everything that successful education brings. What values does RIT Croatia stand for and how do you implement them?
In addition to high-quality study programs, one of the key factors of our success is quality and strong relationships with all stakeholders in our community, without whom our success would not be possible. Therefore, I take this opportunity to thank all employees for the dedication and excellence they bring to our campuses every day; students and their families for choosing RIT Croatia as their educational path; to the graduates who continue to actively participate in our activities, as well as to all our business partners, without whose contribution and cooperation the preparation of students for the labor market would not be complete.
RIT Croatia is a demanding environment; our faculty and staff work hard to provide what is best for our students, but we also expect only the best from them! We expect academic excellence, professionalism and ethical behavior from all our employees and students. Through an individual approach, 360-degree support, and qualified, caring faculty and administration, we create an environment that will help our students become the best versions of themselves and easily compete in a global job market.
We are an active community that thrives on the following values: excellence, global mindedness, inclusiveness, integrity, open-mindedness, team-spirit and trust, and we lead by example every day.
- What are your plans for the future and how do you see RIT Croatia for its 30th anniversary?
We continue to enrich and further develop existing programs and introduce new study programs, always with the aim of making a positive contribution by educating experts that employers are looking for and need. Our focus remains on the quality of the student experience through an educational system that adapts to the new economy & environment, as well as to the needs of students. Every year we witness the growth of international students’ interest in studying at RIT’s Croatia campuses. With the efforts and activities we are doing in that area, and through innovative collaborations with RIT’s global campuses, as well as partner universities within Erasmus, I am sure that these numbers will continue to grow.
We continue to build strong relationships with the industry, thinking about new and innovative ways of cooperation for mutual benefit. Also, we plan to contribute more to the scientific community through the research work of our employees. And, most important of all plans – we continue to hire the best faculty and administrative staff whose excellence and commitment to students is one of the key reasons students come to our campuses.
When I think about the future, I still see RIT Croatia as a community of different groups of people bound by friendship, cooperation, respect, the desire to constantly learn from each other. I know that we will continue to be pioneers who create positive changes in Croatian higher education!