DEHEMS project. HE review Country report about the Higher Education System. Country: Slovenia

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1 DEHEMS project HE review Country report about the Higher Education System Country: Slovenia 1

2 DEHEMS Country Report on the Higher Education System of the Republic of Slovenia 1. Intro This report outlines the higher education system of the Republic of Slovenia. Information contained in this report was drawn from Eurydice, the OECD and Bologna progress reports. Data, where available, has been drawn from the most recent sources accessible, which in most cases is from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia for the academic year 2007/08. Information concerning the structure and legislative framework of the Slovenian system has been drawn from the recent sources on offer by Eurydice from between First, an overview of the Slovenian higher education system s structure is presented, which includes descriptions of the areas of the Slovenian higher education system, the role of public and private academic institutions and data on student and graduates enrolment in academic programmes. Second, the status and impact of the Bologna reforms will be outlined, followed by a description of the nature of the higher education system, its stratification, selectivity and orientation in terms of vocational versus academic practices. Finally, institutional transition regimes and labour market programmes that facilitate the transition from higher education to the labour market will be presented. 2. Overview of the HE System Figure 1 presents the education system of the Republic of Slovenia. For most young people in Slovenia, higher education begins at the age of nineteen. The two areas of higher education are university/professional programmes (univerzitetni/strokovni programi ISCED 5A) & higher vocational colleges (višje strokovne šole ISCED 5B. The abovementioned areas of higher education are classified using the ISCED classification system, which is composed of classical higher education (ISCED 5A and 6) and higher vocational education sectors (ISCED 5B) (Eurydice, 2009a; 127). The latter sector for vocational education is a recent addition to the higher education structure of the Slovenian education system. Since it is exclusively vocational education, the ISCED 5B strata will not be discussed in this report. Higher education studies are performed in two types of institution. These are universities faculties and university art academies. In the academic year 2009/10, there were three publicly funded universities, two private universities and twenty-six single higher education institutions. Twelve single higher education institutions receive funding from the Slovenian government (Eurydice, 2010; 35). 2

3 Figure 1: Educational structure of the Republic of Slovenia 2009/10. Source: Eurydice * Both public and private higher education institutions must be accredited in order for them to be awarded the power to issue qualifications. In the academic year 2009/10, 5 institutions had this power (Eurybase, 2010; 35). Both Bologna compliant and non-compliant programmes were offered in parallel from the academic year 2005/6 until 2008/9, and the option of entering programmes under the previous higher education system expired at the beginning of the academic year 2009/10 (Vrečko, 2008; 4). This will be further elaborated in Section 3 of this report. Publicly funded higher education institutions can be divided into two types of institutions professional colleges and universities. It is mandatory for all public universities to offer full degrees in all three cycles of higher education degree programmes (Eurydice, 2009a; 122). However, professional colleges are treated somewhat differently with regards to the types of qualifications that they offer and the manner in which these institutions are run. They must meet additional requirements which are established within the framework of the Higher Education Act if they would like to offer post-graduate research positions independently, otherwise these institutions must perform these studies in cooperation with universities, faculties or art academies (Eurydice, 2009a; 122). Regardless of whether these institutions are municipal or private, they are financed by the founders, with some co-financing by the government through governmental public tenders (ibid). The most common types of these institutions offer field- or discipline-specific degrees. Owing to Slovenia s relatively small geographic size and population, only 2 private institutions exist, which is 40-percent of higher education institutions (Eurybase, 2010; 35). However, these two institutions consist of seven members which include faculties and art academies. * Eurydice (2010) The structure of European education systems 2009/10: schematic diagrams, available at pp. 6. 3

4 These private institutions can generally be divided into two groups: autonomous higher education institutions and private faculties and arts academies. Their role is to provide education or research in a minimum of one field of study and they mainly offer courses in 1st and 2nd cycle programmes (Eurydice, 2009a; 120). Private higher education institutions and public institutions are differentiated by the programmes which they offer. Like publicly funded universities, private institutions are also bound by the Higher Education Act, which dictates and regulates the conduct, rights and obligations of teachers, researchers and students within these institutions (Eurydice, 2009a; 136). The only significant difference between these two types of institution rests in the provision of their funding and the criteria for accepting students. As such private HEIs with concessions only receive funds for the first three missions, while other independent private institutions can only receive funding for development assignments (ibid). Regardless of the institution s status, either public or private, each has the power to offer access to higher education courses that are not technically degree programmes and are more aimed at including the public particularly adults in the context of lifelong learning (Eurydice, 2009a; 122). Table 1 Overview of the Slovenian higher education system Type of HEI Number of institutions Number of students enrolled (Percentage of Women) Number of Graduates (Percentage of Women) "Bologna Graduates" Bachelor/Master Public Universities ,028 (57.3 %) 91,775 (59.6%) 6,970 (57.8 %) 11,109 (64.8%) / / Private Universities / 1 / 749 (50.8%) / 43 (39.5%) / / Single HE Institutions ,497 (62%) 1,588 (71.8 %) 743 (69.7%) / / Total ,028 (57.3%) 99,021 (59.69% ) 8,558 (60.39%) 11,895 (53.9%) / 269/75 (72.9%/44% ) Figures for 2000 and 2007 include PhD students. Source: The Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia. For a breakdown of students enrolled by institution and programme see Appendix 1. 4

5 These institutions are regulated by the Higher Education Act, which was most recently amended in 2009 (see Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 119/06). The Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology is responsible for implementing higher education policy, which will affect universities and professional colleges only. Vocational education at all levels is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. Table 1 describes the number of private and public universities and individual higher education schools. Since 2000 there has been an explosion in the number of Single HEIs (faculties that offer at least one field of study) and Slovenia has seen the emergence of its first private higher education institution. In 2007, the number of students enrolled in higher education has increased since the year However, the percentage of female students has remained consistent and similar percentages of women also enrol in private HEIs and single HEIs. The number of students graduating from higher education has almost doubled since the year Similar numbers of women graduated in the academic year 2007/08 in public and single HEIs, whilst a lesser percentage of women graduated from the private HEI. Provisional data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia states that in the academic year 2009/10, 79,043 students are enrolled in first and second-cycle programmes in universities and single higher education institutions. Of these, 83.2 % are enrolled in full-time courses, while 19.8 % (15,645) students are candidates for graduation (Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia). Currently, according to provisional data, 44,619 students are enrolled in 1st and 2 nd Bologna cycle programmes (ibid). 3. Impacts and Status Quo of the Bologna Reform Slovenia s higher education system is currently in transition from the old higher education system to the Bologna system. Reforms were being implemented gradually until the 2009/10 academic year (Eurydice, 2010; 35). The final cohort of old system which registered before the academic year 2009/10 must graduate by the year 2015/16 and will study with the same opportunities that other graduates enjoyed that registered under the old system (Eurydice, 2010; 35). In the academic year 2008/09 55 % of Slovenia s higher education programmes were Bologna compliant (Eurydice, 2009; 7). Applicants to higher education lost the ability to enter programmes under the old system in the 2009/10 academic year. The first significant number of graduates enrolled in Bologna programmes graduated in the year 2009 (Vrečko, 2008; 9). Since Slovenia s signature of the Bologna Declaration, there have been two periods reflecting reforms in higher education. The first was in 2004, and the second in Early reforms (2004) did not produce significant changes to the higher education system in Slovenia; however, since 2006, the amendments to the Higher Education Act in line with the Bologna reforms have: See Student enrolment in vocational colleges, universities and single higher education institutions, Slovenia, 2009/10 PROVISIONAL (Released 26/02/2010) DATAhttp:// 5

6 set out conditions for establishing international alliances; status of the Council of Higher Education (CHE), which is a consultative, accreditation, evaluating and habilitation body, was changed ** ; assigning the professional, administrative and technical tasks to the state-funded Secretariat of the CHE whose employees have the status of civil servants; amendments have been made to the Diploma Supplement due to the implementation of the Bologna reforms (Rauhvargers, Deane & Pauwels, 2009; 117). The three cycle Bologna system has been implemented in Slovenia; however, graduates who studied under the old system in academically orientated programmes will graduate with a diploma which is equivalent to the second Bologna cycle qualification. They have been granted the opportunity to continue to the third Bologna cycle without formally obtaining a Master Degree (Eurydice, 2008; 47). Meanwhile, all professional first-degree studies are analogous to the graduates from the Bologna firstcycle. This means that graduates from these fields of study are usually only able to progress to the second Bologna cycle of studies. Areas for the future development of the Slovenian higher education highlighted in the 2009 Bologna stocktaking report include: stimulating internationalisation of higher education and increasing mobility; developing specific knowledge, skills and competences relevant for innovation, to encourage investment of business in HE; creating closer links of regional economies in HE; increasing quality and quality assurance in higher education in line with ESG; introduction of learner-centred teaching and earning; fostering development of flexible study programmes and recognition of informal learning and joint study programmes; developing higher education financing mechanisms to encourage production of applied knowledge and linking financing to quality indicators (Rauhvargers, Deane & Pauwels, 2009; 117). 4. Unitary or Binary System Slovenia s higher education system is predominantly unitary, with the exception of certain vocational studies (Eurydice, 2008; 47). 5. Stratification Stratification of the Slovenian higher education system remains limited. Figure 1 presents the three strata of the higher education system. As described in the introduction of Section 2, only two areas of higher education are offered within the Slovenian higher education system at ISCED levels 5A & 5B. 6. Standardisation The standardisation of qualifications in Slovenia is ensured through three main activities. These are the implementation of the Bologna and other higher education reforms, the legal framework that regulates ** As of March 2010 the Council of Higher Education has been replaced by the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. The Council of Higher Education will continue to serve as consultative body on issues relating to the provision of higher education. 6

7 higher education and the activities of the Council of Higher Education (which was replaced by the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in March, 2010). Graduates of the first cycle achieve professionally- or academically-orientated degree statuses (diplomant or univerzitetni diplomirani, respectively), which are the equivalent of Bachelor degrees. The second cycle sees students embark upon a course which is equivalent to a Masters degree (magister), and the third cycle leads to a Doctorate. Thanks largely to the introduction of the European credit system, all first cycle degrees that are instigated under the framework of the Bologna reforms require European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) points. Masters degree studies require an additional 120 ECTS, or, in the event that the degree was undertaken as a part of previous studies, 60 point in combination with 240 points obtained through previous studies. An additional 180 ECTS points are required to complete Ph.D. programmes hours of study time is the equivalent of one credit point, which means that students must study between 1,500 and 1,800 hours per academic year (EURYDICE, 2009A; 123) In general, first cycle studies require 3-4 years of study, Masters 1-2 years of study (either 4+1 or 3+2) and the doctoral programmes 3 years, theoretically. The legislative framework for the standardisation of academically achieved qualifications is enshrined in the Higher Education Act and the Professional and Academic Titles Act, among other legislative criteria, such as the Criteria for the Accreditation of Studies and the Criteria for Credit Evaluation of Studies, which prescribe provisions for awarding and attaining qualifications, respectively (Eurydice, 2009a; 119). The higher education act is the main legislative framework used to regulate higher education. It sets the provisions for assigning statuses of higher education institutions, undertaking higher education activities, and the role of the state in the provision of higher education and the means and manner of the system s financial support (Eurydice, 2009a; 119). Upon the successful completion of studies, graduates are awarded academic titles from state-approved study programmes. The Professional and Academic Titles Act govern the award of these titles (Eurydice, 2009a; 119). Up until March, 2010, the role of the Council of Higher Education of the Republic of Slovenia was to ensure that higher education institutions are in compliance with all legislative frameworks relating to the provision of higher education on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia. The council consists of students, members of employers organisations and representatives from higher education institutions (Vrečko, 2008; 15). Recently the role of the Council of Higher Education in the areas of accreditation and evaluation were limited and it will continue to function as an advisory body dealing with strategic issues (Act Amending the Higher Education Act, 2009; 3). According to Article 51f of the Act Amending the Higher Education Act (2009) the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency will have the following tasks: managing the quality assurance system in higher and vocational education; setting procedures and criteria for external evaluations and accreditations and sets other criteria and rules; defining minimum standards for awarding titles to higher education 7

8 teachers, researchers and faculty assistants at higher education institutions; conducting external evaluations of higher education institutions, study programmes and vocational colleges; performing accreditations of higher education institutions and study programmes; giving consent to changing higher education institutions and study programmes; establishing and updating an experts register; appointing expert groups for external evaluations and accreditations as well as organizing and participating in their training; officially publishing the Agency s decisions, evaluation reports, annual evaluation and accreditation reports and Agency s reports and analyses, which have to be transparent and accessible; managing the public register of accredited higher education institutions and study programmes; cooperating with higher education institutions and vocational colleges, providing them with advice and promoting selfevaluations; cooperating with international institutions or bodies for quality assurance in higher education; ensuring that the Agency operates in accordance with the EU directives and international principles of quality assurance; collecting and analysing reports on self-evaluations and external evaluations of higher education institutions and vocational colleges; performing development tasks in the field for which it was founded; performing other tasks according to the provisions of this Act and the constituent instrument. (Act Amending the Higher Education Act, 2009; 5) It is through these activities of the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency that standardisation and quality will be assured with the Council of Higher Education acting as a consultative body. 7. Selectivity Higher education admission criteria in Slovenia are regulated by the Higher Education Act, which was most recently amended in Higher education institutions are responsible for the admission and acceptance of students into their institutions. To access higher education students must have completed upper-secondary or general school and obtained a certificate from the matura (maturitetno spričevalo) or professional matura (poklicna matura) examination (Eurydice, 2009; 7). In the event that the number of applications exceeds the number of places available on a certain course, the selection of students rests with the institutions, which use grades achieved in the matura or an aptitude test to determine admission (Eurydice, 2008; 51). 8. Academic versus vocational orientation Professionally orientated course in particular are more vocationally orientated that academic courses, which requires some practical training in industry or in other types of workplaces (such as hospitals and schools). In accordance with the Higher Education Act, professional degree programmes are obliged to provide practical training in second and third cycle studies (Eurydice, 2009a; 129). Cooperation with employers is an essential part of this. Some academic courses are more vocationally orientated than others. In general, most academic courses are taught using traditional teaching methods, such as seminars, lectures, laboratory exercises, field work and team work exercises. However, higher education institutions must cooperate with professional bodies in the formulation of academic programmes, which includes chambers, employers and the relevant ministry, and must produce evidence in this process for fulfilling the conditions for 8

9 conducting practical training [and] information on graduates' employment possibilities (Eurydice, 2009a; 121). It must be noted however that unlike professionally orientated studies, it is not mandatory for students studying academically-orientated degrees to participate in practical training in employers organisations or research (ibid) 9. Tuition fees Students with subsidised places in both public and private universities do not pay tuition fees. Students from countries with bilateral agreements as well as students from other EU countries also enjoy this benefit. However, fees for part-time students and those exempt from the above criteria, which include students in non-subsidised places, must pay between 3,000-4,000 Euros per academic year. Higher education institutions can only charge student s fees in accordance to the Rules on Fees and Other Contributions in Higher Education. These fees include: entrance and annual registration fees (costs of selection procedures, admission documentation, study records and student IDs); costs for the fourth or any following taking of an exam in the same subject; costs of examination by the committee, and; costs linked to the implementation of the study programme fieldwork and professional field trips (transportation, accommodation, etc.) (Eurydice, 2009a; 125). Students are provided with a number of benefits that are aimed at easing the burden of study. These include grants for accommodation, state-subsidised coupons that are redeemable for food in restaurants and reduced-cost tickets on public transportation (ibid). 10. Institutional transition regimes Whilst no formal institutional transition regimes currently exist, higher education institutions organise various events aimed at introducing students to potential employers. These include, for example, information and open days and career fairs for both undergraduate students and post-graduates (Eurydice, 2010; 37). In recent years higher education institutions are obliged to place a greater focus on the employability and employment of their students. As a response, a number of institutions have established career centres, which aid students in a number of ways. They offer assistance and advice to students and can help to facilitate communication with members of the universities alumni, they help plan their career; the selection of modules undertaken in study programmes are of particular importance since this helps students focus and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge potential employers are looking for (Eurydice, 2010; 37). As such, they assist students in their transition from higher education into their first job. The bridge between education and the labour market has been strengthened in recent years, especially the role of work-based training under post-bologna programmes. As previously mentioned, this is not mandatory for students in academic studies (Eurydice, 2009a; 135). 11. Labour market programmes Whilst there are no labour market transition regimes per se, there are two institutions that can assist graduates. The first is the Slovenian employment service, which can offer advice to students and 9

10 graduates about their future careers; however, the institution s focus rests with mostly in assisting adults who are unemployed achieve gainful employment and/or opportunities to enter training (ibid). Second, the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs granted private agencies permission to assist students in finding job placements (Eurydice, 2009; 134). References Primary Sources Act Amending the Higher Education Act (2009) Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No. 119/06 pp Eurybase (2009a) Organisation of the Education System in Slovenia: 2008/09 available at N.pdf (Accessed on 14/04/2010) Eurydice (2008) 'Structures of Education, Vocational Training and Adult Education Systems in Europe: 2008/09 Edition', Slovenia: (Accessed on 08/04/2010) Eurydice (2009) 'National Summary Sheets on Education Systems in Europe and Ongoing Reforms: 2009 Edition', available at (accessed on 14/04/2010) Eurydice (2010) The structure of European education systems 2009/10: schematic diagrams, available at documents/tools/108en.pdf (Accessed 08/04/2010) Eurydice (2010) 'Structures of Education and Training Systems in Europe: 2009/10 Edition', Available at (Accessed on 08/04/2010) Secondary Source Rauhvargers, A., Deane, C. & Pauwels, W. (2009) 'Bologna Process Stocktaking Report 2009' available at hogeronderwijs/bologna/conference/documents/stocktaking_report_2009_final.pdf (Accessed on 08/04/2010) Vrečko, D. (2008) Bologna Process Template for National Reports: available at /National_Report_Slovenia_2009.pdf (accessed on 10/04/2010) WEBSITES 10

11 Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia Appendix 1: Students in higher education by programme and institution Source: Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia See 11

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