PM questions suitability of proposed university applications

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša has wondered in a Facebook post whether Slovenia will have a competitive edge in the fourth industrial revolution compared to countries where there are twice as many people studying science and technology than humanities, whereas in Slovenia the share of the former is 37% and 39% of the latter.

This comes days after the government was expected to approve public universities’ enrolment plans for next year. The proposal, sent to the government for approval by the Education Ministry, is to be discussed by the cabinet this week, Janša said on Friday.

Laying down the number of positions in public schools and faculties is one of the most important strategic decisions in any country, the prime minister said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

A bad decision may lead to the creation of thousands of youths without employment prospects, he said, adding that the government would pay the matter all due attention.

Pointing to numerous Slovenian and EU resolutions on innovation, AI and digitalisation, he said “we are saying that only innovation and new technologies can protect us from the effects of global warming. At the same time, we are planning enrolment in our public schools and faculties, determining the knowledge our children will have in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years”:

“With a student structure of 39% in social sciences, humanities and arts compared to 37% in natural sciences, technology and IT, will Slovenia hold any competitive edge at all in the fourth industrial revolution compared against countries where this share is 1 to 2?” Janša wonders.

Plans also must take into account professional dynamics in real life, he said. “A good engineer or a doctor may become a good manager in the course of their professional career. But it is very rare that a good economics major, a philosopher or jurist becomes a good engineer or doctor in the course of their career.”

The country needs knowledge both in humanities and technology. But the shares of the different professional profiles are determined by the demands of a specific time period, the needs of the business sector and public services, as well as other factors such as demographics and ecology, Janša said.

It is impossible to say exactly how many experts in which field will be needed in 5 or 20 years, but it is possible to see very clearly what highly-developed countries are doing, he said. It is also very clear what professionals have the hardest time finding work.

“Additional enrolment of a large number of unemployables despite possibilities to make realistic assessments verges on social madness,” said Janša.