The Slovenia Times

Financing Major Concern for University in New Academic Year



The universities start implementing the final year of the second Bologna degree (year 5) in most courses with the academic year beginning on 1 October, but the chancellors say the government has not secured the money for the extra year, so they have appealed with PM Alenka BratuĊĦek for an increase in funding.

Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jernej Pikalo has told an interview with the STA that an extra EUR 6.1m in the budget for 2014 should be sufficient for the universities to implement the 5th year of the Bologna programme, but he cannot grant them EUR 46m the chancellors demanded for all four universities.

If the revised budget is passed as proposed, the amount of funding for the implementation of university programmes will remain roughly at this year's levels, that is around EUR 237m, which includes all three public universities as well as private schools licensed to provide publicly funded education.

But the universities say the funds will not be sufficient despite cost-cutting measures taken. The University of Ljubljana, the oldest such institution in Slovenia, had to secure at last EUR 5m itself already in 2012. What is more, the only investment funding they can hope for is from the EU.

To ensure a more stable financing, the ministry is drawing up changes to the higher education act which the minister hopes could be implemented next year. The current system of financing for each year has also been found inappropriate by the Constitutional Court.

"We are talking about two- or three-year financing, so that universities know in advance how much money they have at their disposal and can better plan staffing and other activities," the minister said, explaining that the new system would be based on several pillars.

The basic one would get the bulk of funding. Then there would be a development pillar for which each university would sign an agreement stating its plans at the development level. If the university met the criteria set by the chancellors' conference, it would get the money under that pillar.

There would also be a donations pillar. "We'll try to encourage universities to acquire money in the market or from donations. If a university gets a donation above a certain level the state would add a percentage," the minister says about what is now just an idea.

The final number of students in the new academic year will not be available until after 30 October as enrolment for under- and post graduate studies is still ongoing. Out of 18,660 applications that arrived for first deadline in March, 13,200 students had been admitted.

Only Primorsko University saw applications exceed available admission places. In the first enrolment term 1,619 applications arrived for a total of 1,625 available places. Out of 1,170 admitted, 959 candidates enrolled. In the term ending in August 733 candidates applied for 666 places and 412 were admitted.

The university has been resorting to the market to secure missing funding for study courses, while the private Nova Gorica University was forced to introduce tuition fees for programmes that will not be funded from the national budget.

According to data provided by Minister Pikalo, 203 of the 8,941 staff in higher education had retired since the adoption of the fiscal austerity act in 2012 which places restrictions on replacement of retiring staff, among other things.


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