enVeleučilište studija sigurnosti (VSS)
hr     en
enVeleučilište studija sigurnosti (VSS)
hr     en

Interview with the Dean: Employability, Institutional Reputation, and Specialization are the Most Important Factors in Choosing a Course of Study

As the academic year draws to a close, we spoke with Dr. Luka Leško, DBA, Dean of the University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety  (part of SSBM Geneva), who highlighted the most important moments and summarized the activities of the VSS so far.

Could you briefly introduce the University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety to the general public?

The University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety , as the programmatic successor to its predecessor institutions, has been educating security experts for over 60 years. Today, it is a regional leader in training for professions that are legally required in numerous public and private work environments (experts in occupational safety, fire protection, environmental protection, and the protection of persons and property). Each year, the enrollment of students from the military, police, civil protection, and firefighting sectors is evident, highlighting the interest of these professions and making the VSS an institution that contributes to strengthening the capacities of personnel whose occupations are of significant national interest. Currently, VSS is part of the Swiss School of Business and Management Geneva group, a prestigious Swiss business school with students from over 145 countries worldwide, which has received one of the most prestigious international business school accreditations in Washington. Joining the SSBM group is a significant boost for VSS in strategic, academic, and business terms. This is primarily reflected in quality and marketing, as evidenced by the increasing interest of high school graduates in security and safety studies. The Keystone Group’s 2024 report on the opinions of (potential) students states that the most important factors for young people when choosing a study program are employability, the institution’s reputation, and the specialization of the selected programs. These are precisely the strengths of VSS: employability over 90%, leading reputation in the field of security studies, and highly specialized study programs.

Which activities in recent times would you highlight as particularly important in terms of the institution’s strategic development? What should everyone considering studying at VSS know?

I would break down the answer to this question into several segments. First and foremost, this academic year, we have for the first time promoted our master’s graduates since becoming a college. In terms of economic development, in addition to agreements with the Ministry of the Interior, the Croatian Firefighting Association, and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, we have also partnered with over 20 industry partners such as Eccos Engineering, Croatian Roads, Securitas Croatia, Dekra Croatia, Cemex, and the French-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Furthermore, we have formalized collaborations with numerous foreign universities, including Universidad Isabel I from Spain, VN Karazin Kharkiv National University from Ukraine, University of Economics and Human Sciences in Warsaw, University of Latvia, National Defence College “G. S. Rakovski” from Bulgaria, European University Cyprus, and Modern College of Business and Science from Oman, among others. The College of Security Studies has also signed a cooperation agreement with the Ureka Global Innovation Hub based in Dubai (UAE), a non-profit international organization dedicated to harnessing the transformative power of innovation across various sectors, including government entities, corporations, startups, universities, and individuals. As the University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety is committed to continuously providing educational excellence and expertise in integral and corporate security, this agreement offers unique opportunities for VSS students and faculty to participate in an international exchange program at one of UGIH’s locations. Additionally, this opens up possibilities for internships and training for VSS students in Dubai, Melbourne, New York, Los Angeles, São Paulo, London, Rome, Berlin, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. In the concluding academic year, we also became a member of the European Network Education and Training in Occupational Safety and Health (ENETOSH), which includes member institutions from 43 countries worldwide (across 4 continents), such as the US National Safety Council, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health from the USA, the Korean Occupational Safety & Health Agency, the British Health and Safety Executive, the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund, and more.

What is the social role of VSS and its stakeholders? What is the structure of the lecturers?

The University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety has been awarded a prestigious prize this year for significant achievements in the protection of workers’ lives and health, as well as for improving the occupational safety system. This recognition was granted by the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family, and Social Policy, confirming the institution’s outstanding commitment to enhancing working conditions and employee safety. It was emphasized that the award is the result of the dedicated work and continuous efforts of the University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety in promoting a culture of workplace safety and caring for workers’ health. Through the implementation of innovative approaches and systems, the University has become a leader in the field of occupational safety, standing out as an example of excellence in this important domain. Additionally, some of our faculty members have received professional awards for their individual contributions to the field of safety, including Dr. Darko Palačić, Prof. Dr. Mirko Bilandžić, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tonći Prodan, and General Mate Laušić, among others. Our students are also socially active, participating in fire brigades, the Red Cross, and numerous national and local initiatives. In a broader social context, we have established cooperation with SOS Children’s Village Croatia to provide education to those who are currently unable to afford it but have the desire and will to study. Furthermore, a significant number of scholarships have been awarded, from individuals whose homes were affected by the earthquake a few years ago, to the present day, as we continually announce scholarship competitions.

The teaching staff includes numerous publicly recognized names in the field of security. In addition to those already mentioned, for example, Mladen Vinković was the leader of the Croatian team in the rescue operation after the earthquake in Turkey, subsequently sharing vivid professional and poignant testimonies with the students. General Mate Laušić, the former chief of security for the first President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tuđman, is an inexhaustible source of firsthand information. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pavle Kalinić is a well-known former head of the Office for Emergency Management of the City of Zagreb and a person with extensive operational experience. We have also been visited by numerous guest lecturers, some from renowned international institutions such as the United Nations or a policy officer in the Department for Clean Air and Urban Policy in the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission.

Faculty members at VSS continuously publish and participate in scientific and professional conferences. Could you highlight some of the recent events held?

At the invitation of the organizers, representatives of the University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety participated in the leading military industry conference NCT Europe & PRO Challenge. NCT Consultants, a global group of companies, organizes this conference to support US, European, and coalition military missions in countering weapons of mass destruction threats. The group is known for organizing professional events that contribute to training and readiness of agencies worldwide. Key activities include annual exhibitions in Europe, the US, South America, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Middle East. As part of their work, our faculty regularly publish scientific and professional works, often in prestigious scientific journals. For instance, this year, our Head of the Environmental Protection Department, Dr. Mirsada Ćehić, has published several papers in journals with a respectable impact factor. She was also awarded at the Ruđer Bošković Institute Awards ceremony for the best scientific papers and special contribution to popularizing science in the category of best scientific papers. The University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety also co-organized the 19th edition of the International Conference “Management and Safety,” where the main organizer was the European Association of Safety Engineers. In October, the VSS will be the main organizer of the specialized conference SECURITY 24, with numerous high-profile guests.

What message would you send to potential new students? Why study security at VSS-u?

The University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety (VSS) is highly specialized and strives for excellence in teaching within the turbulent and rapidly changing field of security. Russian aggression in Ukraine, the longstanding and escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine, the issues surrounding the Houthis in the Red Sea, global environmental security, economic security, occupational safety, corruption, migration including the integration of foreign workers, jihadist terrorism, and the (in)security of cyberspace are just some of the elements that require discussion in the context of security challenges. These issues transcend the security of specific locations or national security, becoming challenges of international security. They illustrate the constant evolution of this domain, and studying them is certainly the first step towards preserving a collective security culture. We take pride in our distinguished faculty, who possess rich academic as well as practical experience. Moreover, in the past year, we have promoted a number of young lecturers, some of whom have earned their master’s degrees directly from VSS.

VSS consistently strives to enhance the quality of education using modern digital technology. Furthermore, the President of the Economic Council of VSS is Iva Rogović Lekić, CEO of Marsh Croatia, part of Marsh & McLennan Companies based in New York, one of the world’s largest insurance brokerage and risk management firms with 130 branches worldwide. The Economic Council includes directors from companies such as Deloitte Croatia, Strabag, INA, Croatia Insurance, Emil Frey, GP KRK, and Securitas Croatia, a part of the leading global security corporation Securitas AB. This body advises us on labor market needs, sends its experts to deliver guest lectures, and traditionally participates in our Career Days where representatives from partner companies showcase employment opportunities for our students and alumni. Many of our active students have already secured prominent positions in respected firms, demonstrating our commitment not only to preparing them for the job market but also to supporting their career development. At our modern and recently renovated campus, as well as other locations, we organize informal networking events for students and faculty, following a Western model of integrating an educational ecosystem.

In addition to our traditionally attractive undergraduate and graduate programs in security, we have expanded our offerings to include the following:

  • Mini MBA program in Security Management (in the era of artificial intelligence)
  • Mini MBA program in Managerial Competencies in Security
  • Certified Project Manager
  • Certified Environmental Protection Specialist
  • Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Education
  • Andragogy
  • OTHM Level 5 Diploma in Health and Social Care Management
  • OTHM Level 5 Diploma in Information Technology
  • OTHM Level 5 Diploma in Law
  • OTHM Level 5 Diploma in Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • OTHM Level 5 Extended Diploma in Accounting and Business
  • OTHM Level 6 Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
  • OTHM Level 6 Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety
  • OTHM Level 7 Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management

In conclusion, the University of Applied Sciences in Security and Safety will embark on the new academic year with even more ambitious steps, aiming to become an international center of excellence in educating professionals across a wide spectrum of security domains.