Practical experience leads to ICT careers in Serbia Practical experience leads to ICT careers in Serbia

The School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Belgrade, Serbia attracts new Networking Academy students with reports from alumni and instructors about career advancement.

Mladen Koprivica, who teaches at the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade, learned of Cisco Networking Academy when the university was invited to participate in a joint initiative of the International Telecommunications Union and Cisco to form Internet Training Centers in each country. The timing was ideal for Koprivica: “I wanted to upgrade my knowledge of information and communications technology (ICT),” he recalls.

A huge incentive for Koprivica to become an instructor at the academy, which celebrates its tenth anniversary soon, was the opportunity to teach his students more practical aspects of ICT. He says, “Our telecommunications students are interested in Networking Academy curricula, especially Cisco CCNA Exploration. They receive theoretical instruction in the university courses and practical knowledge through Networking Academy. It is a great combination for the students.” He adds, “Roughly half of the Networking Academy students are from the university and the rest are from local technology companies or other universities.” 

Alumni Go to the Front of the Class

When asked what elements of his academy contribute most to positive learning outcomes, Koprivica says, “All of our instructors have practical knowledge. They all work in the ICT industry.” He continues, “We started the academy with two instructors: one of my colleagues and me. Since then, we have recruited all of our instructors from students at the academy. Being a Networking Academy instructor is their part-time job, just like running the academy is my part-time job. Because many of the students are working in the ICT industry as well, it is not a professor/student model at the academy; it is a colleague model.”

Many students take advantage of the opportunity to practice their IT skills in the classroom, day or night—as long as lectures are not in session. The Networking Academy classrooms are in the university’s computing center, which is always open. “We have some students who come to the lab after their workday is over and practice what they learn in the academy into the early morning,” Koprivica says. “This 24/7 access to the lab is one of the most important features for our students.”

Benefits for Students and Instructors

The instructors also benefit from Networking Academy. Koprivica says, “As instructors, they have access to the latest ICT advancements, which provides them with continual professional development in their teaching and industry jobs.”

Another crucial aspect of Networking Academy courses is their duration. Koprivica says, “It’s best to teach a course for several months, like university courses, rather than a few days or weeks. Networking Academy provides the only ICT training that lasts six to eight months. That is the amount of time you need to teach these courses, rather than trying to provide training for just a few days. There is a lot to cover and students must have enough time to practice everything.”

Advice for Other Academies

The School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade academy was recently recognized by Cisco for CCNA Discovery excellence. When asked about their success, Koprivica says, “Our focus is on what the students need to know to advance their practical knowledge and careers in the ICT industry.” Recruiting new Networking Academy students or encouraging them to continue their studies at the academy does not require advertisements. Koprivica states, “Our best source of promotion for the academy is our students. They tell their friends about the academy courses and their new jobs as a result of the training.”

About the Recognition Award for CCNA Discovery Excellence

One academy from each region has been recognized for overall excellence in each curriculum, based on various metrics of student success.

About this Academy

  • Name: School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade
  • Location: Belgrade, Serbia
  • Education level: Undergraduate and postgraduate
  • Networking Academy curriculum: CCNA Exploration, CCNA Discovery, CCNA Security, CCNP, IT Essentials
  • Year began teaching Networking Academy courses: 2003
  • Number of students: 60-80 per year
  • Number of instructors: 16


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