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Marta Zuvic, University of Rijeka, Croatia

If you could spend five minutes with anyone from the international education sector, who would it be and what would you ask them? Introducing The PIE’s latest series, Five Minutes With… where we speak to leaders from across the sector and ask them all the big questions


Marta Zuvic is the vice rector for students, studies and quality assurance at the University of Rijeka in Croatia. She is also a professor of biophysics, medical physics and statistics and former head of the department of biotechnology. She is passionate about international collaboration and increased access to education.

What do you like most about your job?

I get great satisfaction from contributing to the growth and development of students and the overall quality of education at our institution. Seeing students succeed and knowing that I have played a role in shaping their academic journey gives me great joy.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change?

I would improve access to quality education for all and break down barriers that hinder students in their pursuit of knowledge and personal development.

Tell me about a defining moment in your career

A defining moment in my career was when I founded the University IT Academy and E-Learning Centre. This initiative revolutionised the way we approach education and greatly expanded our reach in delivering quality learning experiences.

What was your first job in international education?

My first job in international education was working with colleagues from the Young Universities for the Future of Europe Alliance as part of the European Universities Initiative, which aims to redefine European higher education through an inclusive, student-centred European University.

This experience sparked my interest, and still does, to further engage in the international education community, especially in developing new forms of educational opportunities for students.

What keeps you awake at night?

First of all, I sleep very well, thank you very much. Otherwise, I often think about how we can ensure that our educational programs are relevant, engaging and prepare students for a rapidly changing world. I also pay attention to the evolving needs of our diverse student body.

Proudest career moment?

It was my first academic paper to be accepted by a prestigious journal. I still remember the feeling when I got the approval to publish. The first time is always the first time. As my career has progressed, I can say that my appointment as vice rector for students, studies and quality assurance was a recognition of my commitment to education and a platform to make a wider impact.

Best work experience?

One of my best working visits was to some European universities that are leading the way in e-learning and innovative pedagogy. It was inspiring, I took a lot away and was able to interact with renowned educators who share a passion for shaping the future of education.

Worst work stay?

A particularly challenging work stay was when I faced logistical problems and communication barriers at an international conference. However, I learned valuable lessons in adaptability and problem solving.

What makes you get up in the morning?

Every day is a new opportunity to change the world around you and enjoy life and being alive. Most importantly, the opportunity to make a positive difference in students’ lives and continuously drive innovation in education motivates me to start each day with enthusiasm.

Most inspiring international student you have met/helped/taught?

One particularly inspiring student I met was a determined individual who overcame significant obstacles to pursue higher education, especially due to his physical disabilities. His resilience and passion for learning and life were truly inspiring and admirable.

How did you come to work in international education?

Through my research collaborations and participation in international projects, I became aware of the importance of a global perspective in education. This led me to become actively involved in international education initiatives.

“One of the biggest challenges is adapting to the rapid advances in technology”

Biggest challenge in your profession?

One of the biggest challenges is adapting to the rapid advances in technology and ensuring that our approaches to education remain effective and relevant in the digital age.

A role model we should all follow and why?

One role model to follow is Malala Yousafzai. Her unwavering commitment to girls’ education and empowerment is a powerful reminder of the transformative impact education can have on individuals and society.

Best international education conference and why?

There are many education conferences worth mentioning, but I particularly like the EUA Learning & Teaching Forum. It stands out for its special audience, which consists not only of education researchers but also of decision-makers. It provides a platform for different people to share innovative practices and discuss challenges in an inclusive and collaborative environment.

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