The tradition of higher education in Albania is mainly a product of the 20th century. The private sector is an even newer alternative, the result of the last two decades, as a product of the reforms of the early 90s until now. In this context, what U_POLIS is unique for is its unique approach and totally disconnected from the politicizing experiences of the dictatorship period, where excessive technical orientation, extreme ideologies, and finally the blocking of professional, academic and research careers for generations of new teachers and young researchers. POLIS makes a clear “separation” from this bitter tradition – which unfortunately still radiates inertia in some academic institutions in the country – while recognizing the true values of the creative and educational heritage in Albania and the region, enriching these value with the most up-to-date experiences and international exchanges. It is no coincidence that the founders and academic/administrative leaders of POLIS University are a “combined product” of the best higher schools in Albania and the most reputable international universities in the EU and the USA.
As a result of this starting point, POLIS University is a product of the “feeling and need for change” that arose in the early 90s, a characteristic that it still demonstrates today thanks to its vitality and dynamism in the face of the complexity and transformations of today. The origin of U_POLIS begins with the establishment of Co-PLAN, Institute for Habitat Development (1995), as a deeply professional non-governmental institute, but also as a citizen movement that lobbies in favor of public participation in transparent processes of planning and urban development /environmental, in function of good governance. In the early 2000s, Co-Plan established the “Training Center”. In 2006, this center was transformed into the initial concept of a Higher Education Institution (HEI), which was initially called: “POLIS, International School of Architecture and Urban Development Policies”. In 2007, POLIS also established the “Bureau of Architecture and Engineering Design” – MetroPOLIS shpk – as a professional environment that gives students and staff the opportunity to practice their profession.
The first academic activities started with the study program in “Architecture” in 2006; and with the study program in “Urban Planning and Management” in 2007. The school was first institutionally and programmatically accredited in 2009. After that, new BSc study programs were opened. and MSc. in the branches “Art-Design” (2010) and Environmental Studies (2011). In addition, 6 international study profiles were also opened in 2010, such as joint Master Degrees with IHS/ERASMUS University, Rotterdam, Netherlands. In 2012, the Albanian Government approved the decision which recognized and increased the status of POLIS from “University High School” to “University”. This enabled the MASH Ministry of Education and Science of the Ministry of Education to grant in the same year the right of POLIS University to offer “Doctoral Studies”. This has already materialized with an International PhD Program of the “Double Degree” type in the fields of Architecture and Urban Planning, a program implemented together with UNIFE, the University of Ferrara, Italy, and a network of European partners. The excellent cooperation with UNIFE is recently being expanded with an “Executive Master” Program for “Restoration and Conservation of Built Heritage“. Furthermore, new BSc programs have also been opened. and MSC. In the fields of “Civil Engineering” and “Computer Science”; as well as two “Post-Secondary Vocational Schools” in the fields of “Energy Efficiency” and “IT Network Maintenance”. A “Joint Diploma” type master’s program for MBA (Business Administration) has been operational since 2014, thanks to close cooperation with IPAG University Paris, France. Work is now underway to open a Bachelor’s Program for BBA.
Today U_POLIS has three large units (Faculties), nine basic units (Departments), and an inter-departmental unit, known as “IF, Innovation Factory“. Meanwhile, one of the 3 large units (Faculties) deals specifically with academic and applied Research and Development. POLIS has also established the “Project Mobilization and Administration Unit” where self-financed education and science projects are implemented, or financed by the Albanian authorities, the EU, and/or bilateral donors, etc. POLIS has an administration that operates based on ISO-9001/2015 standards. Meanwhile, all academic programs and the institution itself have been (re-)accredited several times both in Albania and in institutions abroad. The University also hosts: AUA, the Union of Architects, Urbanists and Planners of Albania; a multimedia art gallery (known as: MAD Center); and a UNECE “Centre of Excellence” for “Sustainable Housing and Resilient Planning and Development” (also known as: OMB – Mediterranean Basin Observatory). POLIS organizes “Architecture and Design Weeks” every year, publishes many publications within POLIS_Press, including two international scientific journals. POLIS University is an institutional member and signatory of the “Bologna Charter” (Magna Carta), as well as having full membership in a number of European university associations, in its fields of interest