The Slovenia Times

Knowledge Bolognese



ments. The goal is to create a system of three educational cycles - bachelor, master and doctorate - with comparable qualifications that would enable the free movement and employment of students by 2010. The process thus involves various statutory and regulatory changes as well as the practical realization of the changes in the new study programmes, new qualifications, different durations and greater mobility for students among universities all over Europe, not just within Slovenia. In Slovenia, the first changes were implemented in 2005 in two faculties of the University of Ljubljana - the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Economics, in the Faculty of Logistics in the University of Maribor and in the Faculty of Management in Koper. So far, the results are unclear, especially the lack of clarity surrounding the recognition of official titles and qualification levels of degrees achieved under the old system. This debate continues to gain impetus, as the old 9-level qualification system will shortly be changed to a new, 8-level one; the implications of which seem to be clear to employees of the ministry alone. Another issue is the quality of the new programmes. Before implementing the Bologna reforms, Joze Mancinger, the then chancellor of Ljubljana University, expressed doubt about the possibility of comparing subjects from different faculties within a campus, let alone faculties from different universities. Critics also point out the problems of establishing a public entity to control the accreditation and evaluation processes. The ministry has proposed that this be done by the existing Council for Higher Education. Students' response The largest higher education institution in Slovenia, the University of Ljubljana has 62,690 students enrolled in the 2005/2006 scholastic year, while the University of Maribor has around 26,600 and the University of Primorska some 6,000. These students have not been sitting idle - many have encountered problems returning from an exchange. "I was not sure whether my professor would recognize the subject that I studied abroad as equal to his," said Nusa. Student organisations, often in collaboration with the institutions, have organized web-portals and other projects designed to explain the Bologna Process to colleagues. "Students of faculties that are not yet involved in the Bologna Process tend not to be interested in the process itself. Even those whose faculties are already active are not fully aware of its content," a student spokesperson said before adding: "this is why the Info tocka web page was set up." Erasmus The reforms are especially pertinent for those planning to spend a year at another European university, as they will really get the chance to compare the content and quality of their studies at two different institutions. In 2005, some 1,000 students from the University of Ljubljana had spent part of their study abroad, 120 of those at postgraduate level. Conversely, some 500 undergraduates from the EU studied at the university for a semester or more; and there were another 120 postgraduate students. In spite of the increase in numbers, problems remain. Slovenians find it expensive living abroad, while foreigners have troubles with Slovene and accommodation facilities, as there are not enough student dorms. Foreigners Slovenia's entry into the EU means that Slovenian students now have the same rights as other EU nationals: they are no longer treated as foreigners when competing for places in EU universities. The same applies for all EU nationals trying to study in Slovenia. Thus, data provided by universities about foreigners wanting to pursue their studies in Slovenia only applies to non-EU nationals. There are some 560 places for foreign students (i.e. those who are not EU citizens) available in Ljubljana for the next scholastic year. So far, 400 candidates have applied, with most interest centred on dental medicine, physiotherapy and pharmacy where there are approximately 7 times as many applicants as there are places. In that regard, the worst ratio is for the medical faculty where 31 foreigners are competing for 2 places. Slovenia is currently going through a period of intensive change with the creation of new universities and other higher education institutions, the implementation of the Bologna Process and the bridging of the academia-economy divide. However, only time will tell how effective the transformation will have been.


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