Another academic year marked by Covid-19 begins

Ljubljana/Maribor/Koper/Nova Gorica – The beginning of October marks the start of a new academic year, once more impacted by Covid-19, as in-person lectures, seminars and exams being reserved for those meeting the recovered-tested-vaccinated rule. There will be no traditional university welcome for new students either.

In line with the guidelines of the Education Ministry and the National Institute of Public Health, which higher education institutions also helped form, lectures will take place at faculties, subject to the recovered-vaccinated-tested condition.

For staff and students, weekly self-testing at their respective institutions will be sufficient to meet the testing requirement.

However, if the situation deteriorates, universities will have the autonomy to impose additional measures.

The tests will be free of charge for students and can be obtained from any pharmacy on presentation of an ID, an enrolment certificate and a health insurance card. For foreign students, the first two will be sufficient.

Students who work in addition to their studies will also be obliged to self-test with the employer they work for, while students on clinical training in healthcare are subject to the same self-testing conditions as other students.

Meanwhile, the enrolment process is still ongoing at the universities of Ljubljana, Maribor, Primorska and Nova Gorica.

The universities and other higher education institutions have offered 18,520 places for the 2021/2022 academic year, with 11,890 new students admitted in the first enrolment period.

A new dental medicine study programme is opening in Maribor this academic year, while the number of places has been increased at both medical faculties, in Ljubljana and Maribor, at the Faculty of Computer Science in Ljubljana and at the Faculty of Education in Primorska.

The number of foreign students continues to rise, having more than doubled in the last four years to 11%. Most foreign students study at the university in Ljubljana.

The final data on the number of students studying at Slovenian universities this academic year will be announced in October, as the second application and enrolment period runs until 30 September.

Due to epidemiological measures, mass events for welcoming newcomers traditionally organised by universities and student organisations will not take place.

The new chancellor of the University of Ljubljana, Gregor Majdič, will only address the new students at the Freshmen Welcome event remotely, via video-link.

Majdič, who was recently elected chancellor of Slovenia’s largest and oldest university for the 2021-2025 term, believes the social role of the university needs to be strengthened, along with cooperation between faculties and with research institutes, and that the society’s confidence in knowledge and science needs to be restored.

“In autumn, the first challenge will be to carry out the study process safely. More than 85% of University of Ljubljana staff have been vaccinated, which is something we are very proud of,” he said.

“It is certainly our wish and our intention that the study process this academic year takes place at the faculties, with direct contact between professors and students,” Majdič added.

Despite the lack of welcome events, students will be briefly introduced at the start of the year to a whole range of possible activities to stay healthy, entertained or gain additional knowledge, experience and other useful information.