New rules for non-EU students in Slovenia raising dust

Ljubljana – Non-EU students who want to study in Slovenia must prove they have EUR 5,000 per academic year available to obtain a temporary residence permit under the recent changes to the foreigners’ act. This has upset students and universities, while the government says only the manner in which students prove they have sufficient means has changed.

Before the latest changes kicked in on 27 May, foreign students had to produce a written statement by their parents or legal guardians that they will support them during their studies in Slovenia.

Now a non-EU student has to prove in advance they have EUR 5,000 or EUR 402 per month (minimum monthly income) before applying for a temporary residency permit.

Foreign students, student representatives and universities see the new requirement as stricter than it used to be, arguing it could hurt Slovenia’s higher education space.

They are also not sure whether the new rule also apply to non-EU students who are already studying in Slovenia, so they have asked the interior and education ministries for explanation.

The Interior Ministry said today the changes to the foreigners act, passed in March, only change the manner in which students must prove that they have enough funds.

The changes transpose the EU directive which says a foreign citizen must prove in a procedure to have enough funds to live on in order not to eat into the host country’s social security system, the ministry said.

A foreign student will still be able to prove to have enough means with the income of their parents, but the body processing their request will not check if the parents have the means to support the whole family, only if they have the minimum monthly income of EUR 402 to support the student.

The Slovenian Student Organisation (ŠOS) announced on 28 May efforts to change the new rules, arguing they were not in line with the country’s strategy on the internationalisation of higher education.

ŠOS promotes the right to studies for Slovenians and foreigners “to attract the best students who will improve Slovenian higher education and hopefully the labour market”.

ŠOS president Andrej Pirjevec said that foreign students were no less able to take care of their social security than their Slovenian peers.

The chancellors of public universities meanwhile suggested on Monday that different interpretation should apply to those who have already enrolled.

The Education Ministry has told the STA that Italy and Austria have similar financial arrangements for non-EU students.

It also said it was in “intensive talks” with the Interior Ministry to make sure a scholarship counts towards the means a student has to support themselves.

There are 71,960 students studying at Slovenia’s higher education establishments in the 2020/21 academic year. Over 7,680 of them are from abroad, of whom 5,527 from non-EU countries.