The Belgrade Political Sciences Faculty (FON) Council voted 83 to 21 in favour of the public condemnation of Serbia's Finance Minister Sinisa Mali over his doctorate which many experts said was plagiarism, N1 reported on Monday.
Some of the Council's members told N1 TV that the mere public condemnation was a recommendation for Mali's doctorate to be nullified.
The public condemnation is said to be the most severe decision that any faculty's council can make.
Students' representative on the Council Moma Kovacevic told N1 after the session that the decision was a message to the Belgarde University's Professional Ethics Committee to invalidate Mali's doctorate.
The opposition New Party requested Mali's resignation after the FON's decision. The party added the public condemnation "is not enough" because "it is about a person who is a high-ranking state official" and "thus is interpreted as the public condemnation of the highest state's institution."
Earlier, the Committee suggested to FON to "punish" Mali with the public warning, saying it did not have enough facts to decide the doctorate indeed was the plagiarism.
However, the FON's Council opted for the harsher measure, and the last word would be up to the Belgrade University.
Ivanka Popovic, the Rector, promised the striking students that the final decision would be brought by November 4.
Mali later said it was essential for him that FON’s Council confirmed his doctorate was not plagiarism and accused the opposition of politicising the issue. “I will bear the consequences and accept the opinion about my omission to quote all the sources in the thesis,” Mali told the O2 TV.
The doctorate saga drags on for years with the first ruling by the FON it isn't the plagiarism since Mali has copied less of other people's work without the attribution than needed for such decision.
However, some Belgarde University professors analysed the thesis and discovered much more unattributed material, enough to declare it plagiarism.
In the first sign that the final ruling may be like that but will not affect Mali's position, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said that "if Mali had only primary education, he could be a minister."