Slovenia is a country located in Central Europe at the crossroads of main European cultural and trade routes. The tertiary education in Slovenia includes the short-cycle higher vocational education and higher education. Since 2012, both domains have been under the responsibility of the Ministry of education. Both subsystems of tertiary education are interrelated. The graduates of the short-cycle higher vocational education may and can continue their studies to advanced Years of the higher education, and by the decision of the Council of experts for higher education as a rule, in the second Year of higher technical education. The final say on it have higher education technical institutions and faculties. Tools for greater transparency of education (credit system, diploma supplement, and system of quality, including the system of external evaluation) are instituted at all levels of tertiary education.
|Expenditure on higher education||2,2 %|
|EuroUniversities in top 100||0|
|EuroUniversities in top 250||0|
|EuroUniversities in top 500||2|
|EuroUniversities in top 1000||2|
|Foreigner students||0,9 %|
|Enrollment rate in higher education||79,3 %|
The higher education in Slovenia is provided by law, namely the Higher Education Act (sl). The studies are organised by both public and private universities, and other higher education institutions, namely at faculties, art academies, and higher vocational colleges. Private faculties and art academies, and public and private higher vocational colleges may be established as autonomous higher education institutions that may further form an association of higher education institutions. Under special conditions, it is allowed to form an international association of universities.
The main functions of the higher education institutions, i. e. scientific R&D and education, are provided by law. The five to ten year strategic goals are defined with the Higher Education Master Plan that is adopted by the Parliament. The development of such a plan is the result of higher education partners, the Council of Experts of the Republic of Slovenia for Higher Education, and the National Science and Technology Council joined forces.
The key goals of the Higher Education Master Plan from 2011 to 2020(sl) that the Parliament adopted in May 2011 are quality and excellence, diversity and accessibility, internationalization, diversification of study structures, and substantial financing of higher education; in particular the plan’s goals are:
- redefine the types of higher education institutions and requirements or conditions of founding and pursuing the activities of such institutions
- enable autonomous decision-making about internal organisational structure within the new arrangement of higher education institutions
- create a system of internal organisation of universities that shall promote cooperation between departments and/or members and support greater number of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programmes
- arrange adequate conditions for separate provision of academic and professional tertiary education
- reduce the number of study programmes and allow for greater selectivity of content
- update the system of habilitations and reduce the number of habilitation domains
- arrange workloads, compensations, and progression of staff
- to improve the cooperation of higher education institutions with public research institutions, and
- to improve the cooperation of higher education institutions with the economic and non-commercial sectors.
The amended Higher education Act (sl) constitutes legal framework for the implementation of the three-cycle higher education system that recognises the goals of the Bologna process and the goals of a common European higher education space. The first cycle study programmes or bachelor degree programmes are academic or professional. The second cycle programmes are master programmes. The common master study programmes that lead directly to master’s degree shall focus on education and training for occupations or professions according to the EU directives or special rules of the Republic of Slovenia. The third-cycle programmes are PhD programmes. At all three levels, students may choose to take combined study programmes. The higher education institutions may develop, accredit, and provide programmes of further training, i. e. within the scope of lifelong learning. The implementation of the credit system (ECTS) has been required since 2002.
Universities, faculties, and art academies may provide study programmes of all cycles. Higher vocational colleges provide, as a rule, the first cycle programmes (undergraduate); if they meet special stipulations, they may provide the second cycle programmes (graduate). The entry requirements are provided by law provisionally, in detail they are specified for a given study programme. If certain requirements are met, students have the option to transfer from one study programme to another at the same level. Graduates receive a diploma and a professional or academic title in accordance with the Professional and Academic Titles Act(sl). Since 2001/2002, graduates receive diplomas and diploma supplements, and since 2007, they receive them both free of charge in Slovene language as well as in one of the official languages of the EU.
The studies are either full-time or part-time. The school year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The study programmes are specified in detail by higher education institutions, namely the institutions issue respective study calendars. The school year commonly includes two semesters of 15 working weeks each, and three periods of examination. The language of instruction is Slovene. Under conditions stipulated by law and relevant Statute, higher education institutions may provide a specific study programme or part of it in a foreign language, too.
To assure quality of the higher education institutions and study programmes, one institutes the procedures of accreditations and applies an internal and external evaluation. From 1994 to 2010, the accreditation of higher education institutions and study programmes was the responsibility of the National Council for Higher Education of the Republic of Slovenia; since 2006, its responsibilities extended to the voluntary external evaluation. In the spring of 2010, one founded the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (NAKVIS) to assume those functions. The internal evaluation remains the responsibility of higher education institutions.
In accordance with the Assessment and recognition of education Act (sl), the studies completed abroad shall be recognized in Slovenia, as well.
Branches of study
The first cycle consists of academic and professional higher study programmes. Their duration is defined by years (three to four years) and credits (180 to 240 ECTS). They are arranged according to theDecree on the classification system of education (sl) and are classified at the level 6/2. A year of study allows a student to earn 60 credits. Each credit corresponds to between 25 and 30 hours of work on the student’s part or 1,500 to 1,800 hours per year. This is offered to students of all fields in accordance with the ISCED classification or the relevant Decree (8 common and 22 specific fields). In practice, there is a large selection of programmes of both types lasting three or four years. There are fewer four-year than three-year programmes, which fall within the fields of art, sociology and the education of teachers.
The study programmes are mostly single discipline, but individual subjects may also be selected from other disciplines. Only study programmes that fall within the field of educating teachers, pedagogical science and humanities are double-subject (for example, two foreign languages or a foreign language and geography, history, and so on). There is an increasing share of elective courses, as well as increased mobility of students and teachers among higher education institutions in Slovenia and abroad.
The Higher Education Act stipulates that access to academic study programmes is granted to candidates who passed thematura (national upper secondary school graduation examination) or the final examination prior to 1 June 1995, or vocational matura pursuant to the relevant programme leading to secondary professional qualification from the same professional field, provided these candidates passed an examination in one of the generalmatura subjects. Access to professional study programmes is granted to candidates who completed the matura or final examination pursuant to the relevant secondary professional education programme leading to a professional qualification, specified by the study programme. Admission requirements are determined in more detail in accordance with individual study programmes. To apply to certain study programmes, especially those in the artistic fields, architecture and sports, it is necessary to successfully complete a test of talent (for example, in art or music) or demonstrate required physical and mental fitness. Art academies may determine that students who do not fulfil the general requirements for admission may still be admitted to their study programmes if they are extraordinarily artistically gifted.
Equivalent certificates received abroad are also accepted.
According to the Criteria for transfering in higher education (en) access to specific first cycle professional study programmes and specific first cycle academic study programmes can be granted to graduates from professional short-cycle education programmes from the same or similar field of study. Such students may continue their studies in the second year. If the difference between the two programmes is too significant, students must successfully complete bridging exams (either before applying to a new programme or later on) as well as meeting other criteria, such as practical training.
Enrolment in study programmes leading to a formal degree, which are provided by public higher education institutions and private higher education institutions holding a concession, is carried out through the public call for enrolment. There is a single call for enrolment in undergraduate study programmes and study programmes receiving concessions offered by private higher education institutions, regardless of the mode of study. The call for enrolment must be published by the competent ministry for higher education at least six months prior to the beginning of the new academic year.
The calls for enrolment in undergraduate study programmes must be published by universities and independent higher education institutions on their websites or other websites, or the daily press – at least four months prior to their beginning.
In cases of limited admission, students are selected on the basis of their success at the matura or the vocational matura examinations (or the former final examination) as well as their overall success in the last two years of upper secondary school. Marks in specific upper secondary school subjects may also be taken into account. The criteria for selection are more specifically determined by the individual study programme.
The number of available admission places is decided by the higher education institutions themselves. Those institutions that are either public or possessing state concessions must receive approval from the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on their choice. The registration-admission procedure is centralized and defined by the relevant regulations.
Application for admission is conducted by higher education admission services at universities. Candidates submit digital applications for enrolment in the first and second cycle study programmes through the eVŠ (Record and Analysis system for higher education in the Republic of Slovenia – Evidenčni in analitski sistem visokega šolstva v Republiki Sloveniji) web portal, so the procedure is carried out through a single web portal for both public and private higher education institutions. The selection procedure for enrolment in public higher education institutions and private higher education institutions with a concession is carried out by the admission information services. In the application each candidate lists three study programmes of choice in order of specific priority order. They are admitted to the first study programme for which they meet all the relevant requirements.
The regulations for the admittance of foreigners (citizens of countries that are not EU member states) and Slovenes without Slovenian citizenship are determined through ministerial statutes. In such cases, as much as 10% of the available admission places in full-time study are available.
Partially adjusted enrolment procedures apply to all candidates who pass matura during the autumn term; i.e. candidates from EU member states who completed their secondary education in another country. During the admission procedure for enrolment in an undergraduate study programme candidates may request special needs status. This status may be granted by the competent body of the university and/or independent higher education institution upon individual request and submission of supporting documents. If the candidates failed to enrol during the regular selection procedure, but meet the criteria for enrolment in the study programme, while achieving at least 90% of the minimum points required for selection, they are included in the list of subsequently accepted candidates.
Study programmes are autonomously prepared and accepted by the higher professional institutes. The compulsory components of the study programmes are determined by the Higher education Act (sl) with the details defined by the Criteria of accreditation and evaluation of HE institutions and SP (sl).
The general goals of first cycle study programmes are determined by the Higher education Act. By design, they are divided into professional and academic study programmes. The former are designed to be more of a practical nature, while the latter are more theoretical.
The first cycle professional study programmes enable students to profit from occupational knowledge. This qualifies them to use scientific methods in the solving of demanding professional and work related problems. They acquire skills to communicate with and among professionals, pass professional criticism and assume responsibility, learn to take initiative and make independent decisions as well as skills to manage. The obligatory component of these study programmes is the practical education students receive working in an appropriate environment.
First cycle academic study programmes provide students with professional knowledge through the study of theoretical and methodological concepts. This qualifies them to convey and utilize the theory in practice and in the solving of professional and work related problems. In this way, they seek out new sources of knowledge and utilize scientific methods. They acquire skills to communicate with and among professionals, pass professional criticism and assume responsibility, learn to take initiative and make independent decisions as well as skills to manage complex activities. A component of these programmes could potentially include practical education in a working environment or collaboration in research work.
The Act also specifies the obligatory components necessary in both types of first cycle study programmes. These include:
- general information about the programme (name, level, type, and duration)
- the definition of the basic programme objectives or the general and subject specific competences, which students acquire through the programme
- information concerning the international compatibility of the programm
- information concerning the international cooperation of higher professional education institutions
- a syllabus with the credit assessment of the study obligations recommended by European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the proportion of elective components within the programme
- the admission requirements and the selection criteria in the case of limited admission
- the criteria for the recognition of knowledge and skills acquired prior to enrolment into the programme
- forms of assessment
- criteria for progression through the programme
- criteria for transfer between programmes
- requirements for the completion of study; the requirements necessary to successfully complete individual ections of the study programme if the programme consists of many components, and
- the professional title to be received in accordance with the law.
The components of accreditation of study programmes are specified in detail by the Criteria on accreditation of higher education institutions and study programmes. The document also specifies the components of the joint study programmes.
According to the stated rules, the study programmes are created and adopted by the senate of the university, namely upon the proposal of the senate of the university member or the senate of the independent higher education institution. All programmes shall be accredited by the SQAA for higher education at intervals of seven years.
Joint study programmes are study programmes leading to a degree, which are adopted by a higher education institution and implemented in cooperation with one or more higher education institutions from the Republic of Slovenia or other countries. Besides statutory provisions the criteria for the design and adoption of joint study programmes, adopted by the SQAA, also apply to these study programmes.
Students who complete all study requirements pursuant to the joint study programme leading to a degree, receives a joint degree which lists all the higher education institutions involved in the provision of the study programme. A joint degree is a formal document. The content and form of the joint degree and the diploma supplement is laid down by the participating higher education institutions.
The language of instruction is Slovenian. Parts of the study programmes may be provided in a foreign language (usually English) if they involve visiting higher education teachers or greater number of foreign students have enroled in the programme.
The methods of teaching at higher education institutions are not prescribed. The choice of method is made by the competent senate and the teachers themselves. The senate accepts and is responsible for the preparation of study programmes, while the execution of individual subjects is the responsibility of higher education teachers. Besides traditional forms of teaching, such as lectures, seminars, theoretical and laboratory training, other methods, including essays, projects, and group work, are increasingly being utilised. Case studies and new informational technology (especially in the case of long distance study) are also being more commonly used.
The didactics of higher education is offered to higher education teachers as a supplementary study programme and workshops are also organized for fully employed teachers in higher education institutions. Specialized departments of pedagogical and didactic study also issue methodical and didactic handbooks.
Textbooks and study materials may be borrowed via the system of higher education libraries (libraries at higher education institutions, National and University Library, Central Technological Library) against annual membership fee, as well as via Internet.
Progression of students
To progress to the next year, students must successfully complete all obligations of their study programme (tutorials, preliminary exams, seminar papers, examinations, practical training, etc.). It is only possible for a student to progress to the next year of study without having fulfilled their obligations under exceptional circumstances (motherhood, illness, and status of an elite athlete, appointment to a professional body of a higher education institution or student organisation, and so forth). The progression is then endorsed by the study commissions at the higher education institutions upon reviewing the supporting documents.
During their studies students can repeat a year once or transfer to another study programme or study option because they did not fulfil their study requirements.
Exceptionally successful students have the opportunity to progress more rapidly. The professional bodies of higher education institutions decide upon this in the best interest of the student. Higher education institutions also determine the number of times a student may take a particular examination. It is generally decided that they can take an examination up to three times, the fourth time requiring the lodging of a provisional request. All study programmes must be designed in such a way that students can fulfil all of their obligations within the time provided in the official duration of the programme.
The Higher education Act (sl) stipulates that a student, who did not repeat a year or transfer to another study programme or study option, is entitled to an additional year for the completion of the remaining study requirements.
Higher education institutions must cooperate with employers in the preparation and modernisation of study programmes. The Criteria of accreditation and evaluation of HEs and SPs (en) determine that every application for the accreditation of a new study programme must include:
- Analysis of graduates’ career opportunities provided by the employment office or the competent chamber, employer associations or other institutions competent for the professional fields of the study programme; and
- agreements and contracts with enterprises on the placement of the foreseen number of enrolled students.
The participation of employers is also foreseen for placement in the work environment where placement mentors work. Work placement is compulsory for first cycle professional study programmes and recommended for first cycle academic study programmes. Mentors are specifically trained for their work with students and constitute a significant link between the studies and the specific work environment.
Universities and higher education institutions can establish career centres which function as a platform for the exchange of information among higher education institutions, employers and students.
Employers participate in the preparation of study programmes and provide for the implementation of work placement. Career opportunities for first cycle graduates include state regulated professions (e.g. construction, healthcare, education, agriculture and traffic) that are governed by regulations. However, the evaluation of graduates who completed first cycle study programmes has not been implemented yet; therefore the national programme for the following period foresees the review of possible system solutions.
The workplaces in career classes that may be occupied by graduates of the first cycle study programmes are specified by the Civil Servants Act.
The assessment scale is determined by the statutes and internal regulations of higher education institutions. The methods of assessing knowledge, the exam periods and terms, the number of possible retakes for examinations, the process of applying for exams and cancelling said applications, the possibilities to complete examinations in advance, fulfilling study obligations in the case of interrupted studies, and so on are also determined by the high education institutions. More detailed regulations concerning the evaluation and assessment of knowledge are specified by the study programme and the individual subjects.
Students are evaluated by means of an assessment scale numbered from 1 to 10. The lowest positive grade is 6 and the highest is 10. Individual student assignments and obligations may also be assessed with the marks ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ or ‘pass with distinction’. Due to the variations in teaching methods, the forms of assessing knowledge also vary. Students may be assessed regularly (with preliminary exams, tutorials, discussion groups, seminar papers, project work and so on), mostly on the basis of written and oral examinations upon the completion of lectures. The study programmes define how these individual marks form the final grade. Upon the completion of a first cycle study programme, students must compose a thesis paper. In the case of art studies, the written work must be supplemented by a presentation, concert, art performance, exhibition, project presentation, etc.
The examiner present at the examination is, as a rule, a teacher of the subject, unit or module in question. If the students are retaking the examination, they are assessed by a commission, which consists of at least two teachers. The diploma examination is also carried out before a commission.
Higher education institutions issue a degree (diploma) to the graduates and confer professional titles in accordance with the Professional and academic titles Act (sl). Typical professional titles for graduates from first cycle study programmes are: “diplomirani… (UN)” and “diplomirani… (VS)”, while other titles are also possible, e.g. “professor… (UN)”.
Graduates who graduated after the 2000/2001 academic year also receive a diploma supplement together with their degree. Since 2008, the diploma supplement has been issued in accordance with the Higher education Act (sl) and the Rules on the diploma supplement (sl) issued by the competent minister for higher education. The diploma supplement is free of charge and written in Slovenian and one of the official languages of the EU (usually English). It includes information on:
- their higher education qualifications
- level of education
- study and success of the graduate
- potential for the continuation of study and employment
- higher education system in Slovenia.
Students, who complete all study requirements pursuant to the joint study programme, receive a joint degree, which includes the names of all higher education institutions participating in the provision of the study programme. The joint degree is a formal document. The content and form of the joint degree and diploma supplement is defined by the participating higher education institutions.
Recognition of higher education qualifications in the Republic of Slovenia is governed by the Evaluation and recognition of education Act (sl) while it is based on the Convention on the Recognition of qualifications concerning higher education in the European region (sl). The ENIC-NARIC centre operates within the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport with the role of the national information centre pursuant to the provisions of the Convention. The main responsibilities of the centre include the collection and submission of information on the Slovenian education system and foreign education systems, administration of procedures and issuing of opinions on education in accordance with the law, preparation of public information for users, international cooperation in ENIC-NARIC networks and broader international cooperation.
Second Cycle Programmes
Branches of study
‘Branches of Study’ in the second cycle study programmes are Master’s study programmes (specialist). According to the Decree on the Introduction and Use of the Classification System of Education and Trainin (sl), the programmes are classified at level 7, encompass 60 or 120 credits and last one or two years. The duration of an individual Master’s study programme corresponds to the duration of the first cycle study programmes. The full duration does not exceed five years (3+2, 4+1) within the same professional field. Long degree study programmes are part of the second cycle study programmes and last five or six years.
The general requirement for admission into a one- or two-year second cycle study programme is the completion of the first cycle study programme. Additional requirements are determined by each individual study programme. The study programmes are defined within the appropriate professional field. For candidates from other fields, with regards to the variations among occupations, there is a 10 to 60 credits bridging obligation. Particular talents, psychophysical abilities or appropriate work experience may also be included as an admission requirement.
The application requirements for a second cycle study programme may also be fulfilled by the completion of equivalent education abroad.
If the number of candidates is greater than the number of vacancies and admission is limited, the higher professional institution selects the most successful students. The success attained in the first cycle study (e.g. the average study grade) is taken into consideration, which may include the grades awarded in individual subjects or first cycle subject areas. Some master study programmes use entrance examinations as the criteria by which they select candidates.
According to the transfer criteria, it is also possible to apply to the second year of a two-year master study programme. The criteria allow for students to transfer from one programme to another if at least half of their ECTS obligations from the initial study programme are officially recognized. Other requirements (bridging exams, etc.) are determined by the higher professional institutions themselves.
Students apply on the basis of a general call for applications. Higher professional institutions must announce this at least four months before the start of the academic year. Along with the call for applications, general information, admission requirements, the number of vacancies, procedures and application deadlines are also published. Public higher professional institutions and licensed higher professional institutions must receive the approval of the Government to execute the general call for applications. The selection of candidates is carried out at individual higher professional institutions.
Master’s study programmes enable students to acquire deep knowledge within broad professional fields. Graduates are qualified to manage the most demanding working systems and solve problems in new circumstances with the use of research methods and the search for new sources of knowledge. They learn to take responsibility for and develop social and communicative abilities necessary for the management of group work. It is also critical that they develop the capabilities for critical reflection. Obligatory components of these programmes are project tasks in the workplace or fundamental, applicative or developmental research papers.
Obligatory components of the second cycle study programmes are determined by Higher education Act (sl) and are equivalent to those of the first cycle programmes.
The components are more accurately defined by the Criteria on accreditation of HEs and SPs (en). The components necessary for joint study programmes are also determined.
The process of accepting study programmes is the same as for the first cycle programmes. The formation of the study programmes is laid down by EU directives. The programmes prepare students for employment, which is laid down by the same EU directives that were considered in the formation of the programmes.
The decision on the use of specific teaching methods is left to the competent senates and the individual teachers. In these programmes, methods such as essays, projects, group work, discussion groups, case studies, visiting companies and research work are utilised in addition to traditional forms of teaching, and are used more often than in first cycle programmes. The use of information technology is also increasing, namely in full-time study as well as in alternative forms of study (long distance studies, for example).
Textbooks and study materials may be borrowed via the system of higher education libraries (libraries at higher education institutions, National and University Library, Central Technological Library) against annual membership fee, as well as via Internet.
Progression of students
Students, who complete study requirements for a specific year as set by the study programme (tutorials, colloquiums, seminars, examination, placement, etc.), can progress to the higher year. In the two-year second cycle study programmes students must gain at least 54 ECTS credits, or the number of credits specified by the study programme.
The higher education institutions decide for themselves how often students may re-sit a particular examination. Generally it is decided that they may re-sit an examination three times at the most. The fourth re-sit occurs only on the basis of a provisional request. Higher education institutions also decide upon the requirements necessary for a student to advance more quickly.
Higher education institutions must cooperate with employers in the preparation and modernisation of study programmes. The Criteria of Accreditation and External Evaluation of Higher Education Institutions and Study Programmes determine that every application for the accreditation of a new study programme must include:
- Analysis of career opportunities of graduates provided by the employment office or the competent chamber, employer associations or other institutions, competent for the professional fields of the study programme; and
- agreements and contracts with enterprises on the placement of the foreseen number of enrolled students.
Collaboration with employers is also expected for practical education in the workplace. Employers and higher professional institutions cooperate in the preparation of study programmes and in their execution. They are invited to participate in lectures and seminars. Students complete their practical education, terms of reference, fundamental, applicative or developmental research papers and also often the experimental portion of their master’s thesis with their employers.
The language of instruction is Slovene. In accordance with the Higher education Act (sl) and the statutes of higher professional institutions, portions of a particular study programme may be carried out in a foreign language (usually in English) in cases where there is cooperation with a higher professional guest teacher from abroad or if a large number of foreign students enrol. A study programmes is also permitted to be completely carried out in a foreign language if it is simultaneously carried out in Slovenian. In practice, a foreign language is usually used in the execution of joint study programmes.
The student assessment is the same as for the first cycle programmes.
Upon the completion of their studies, students write a master’s thesis. In general, the topics are determined within narrow study fields and announced in advance. Students may also suggest their own topic. In art studies, written work is supplemented by a presentation, concert, art performance, exhibition, project presentation, etc. Students then make a public presentation of the paper before a commission (of three members, usually) wherein they defend their findings and substantiate their knowledge of the respective research field.
Graduates receive a diploma and a vocational title in accordance with the Professional and academic titles Ac (sl). Typical vocational titles for graduates of the second cycle study programmes depend on the programme and include magister/magistrica… (Master of…), magister/magistrica inženir… (Master of Engineering), magister/magistrica profesor… (Master Professor of…) and magister/magistrica akademski/a… (Master Academic of…). According to the respective law, professional titles shall not be translated.
Since the 2001/2002 academic year, students have received the Diploma supplement with the diploma.
All students who fulfil the obligations of a joint study program receive a joint diploma with a list of all higher professional institutions that collaborated in its realisation. The joint diploma is an official document. The contents and form of the joint diploma, as well as the diploma supplement, are defined by the involved higher education institutions.
Recognition of higher education qualifications in the Republic of Slovenia is governed by the Evaluation and recognition of education Act (sl) while it is based on the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Regio (sl). The ENIC-NARIC centre operates within the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport with the role of the national information centre pursuant to the provisions of the Convention. The ain responsibilities of the centre include the collection and submission of information on the Slovenian education system and foreign education systems, administration of procedures and issuing of opinions on education in accordance with the law, preparation of public information for users, international cooperation in ENIC-NARIC networks and broader international cooperation.
Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes
Organisation of doctoral studies
Third cycle study programmes are doktorski (doctoral) study programmes. They consist of 180 ECTS and are three years in duration. According to the decree on the classification system of education (sl), they are classified within level 8/2.
The doktorski study programmes allow students to deepen their understanding of theoretical and methodological concepts. They are qualified to manage the most demanding work situations as well as scientific research projects in a broad professional or scientific field. They put well-known solutions to the test, improve them and discover new ones. They then continue to develop the capabilities necessary for critical reflection. An obligatory component of these programmes is the fundamental or applicative research papers.
The doktorski study programmes are the basis for the study and research programmes of individual students. Within the third cycle study programme, the obligatory components are defined as for first and second cycle programmes. The field content and ECTS of the obligations, which are arranged into study and individual research work, are also determined. Among them are joint forms of study work, group or individual research work. The organized forms of study within the doctoral study programme consist of at least 60 ECTS with 120 ECTS being awarded to individual work on a doctoral dissertation. With the doctoral study programme, academic titles are also defined and formed by law.
The general requirement for admission into a doctoral study programme is to have completed a second cycle study programme. During the candidate selection process, the average grade acquired in second cycle studies as well as achievements in research and professional filed may be considered. The criteria are defined with the study programme.
Potential students may have to complete an entrance exam or test of their artistic or psychophysical abilities. The selection process may also take into account research work of the candidate, work experience, published articles and completed professional specializations or short postgraduate training programmes. Knowledge acquired before applying to the programme may also be recognized as a fulfilment of programme obligations.
Admission requirements for enrolment in doctoral study programmes are also met by candidates who completed equivalent education abroad.
The call for enrolment is published by higher education institutions (public higher education institutions must acquire prior the approval of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia). The call for enrolment includes general information on applications, deadlines and requirements for enrolment in a specific doctoral study programme.
Status of students of doctoral study programmes
Students have either full-time or part-time status. If a student is not employed, they are entitled, according to particular regulations, to health insurance and other benefits and rights (for example, student meals subsidies, subsidised transportation, scholarships, etc.). Employed students may take advantage of the rights provided to them through their worker status. The financing of studies for such students is implemented as described in chapter 3B.
There are two special schemes organised for the two groups of students of doctoral study programmes: “junior researchers” and “junior researchers of economy”. The first scheme has been running successfully since 1985. Junior researchers collaborate in research work in research groups, programmes or projects at higher professional institutions or research institutes simultaneously with their doctoral studies. They in an employment relation for the duration of their studies (3 and a half years) they are employed. Public funds are allocated to their salaries, social contributions, as well as material costs for research activities and study. Junior economics researchers fall into the second scheme. Their legal circumstances are the same: they are employed for a fixed amount of time, have a salary and public resources also guarantee material expenses for research work.
The doctoral studies are provided according to the internal rules of the higher professional institution. Generally, at universities and other higher professional institutions, a special body is appointed to plan, coordinate, organize and simultaneously accept students’ study and research work. These are programme councils or commissions for academic research work, doctoral studies and field coordinators. Every student has a mentor (often accompanied by a co-mentor), who advises students in their choice of subjects and guides their research work. The topic of a doctoral dissertation is assessed by a commission and certified by the senate of the higher professional institute. Mentors may simply be higher professional teachers or scientific workers who have demonstrated their research qualifications (with an appropriate scientific bibliography). The defence of the doctoral dissertation is carried out publicly, before a commission, of which at least one of the members is from another higher professional or research institution, including quite often those from abroad.
The supervision of the doctoral study’s execution is also carried out through internal and external evaluation processes.
During the accreditation procedure for doctoral study programmes the following documents shall be submitted:
- analysis of career opportunities of graduates provided by the employment office or the competent chamber, employer associations or other institutions, competent for the professional fields of the study programme, and
- agreements and contracts with enterprises on the placement of the foreseen number of enrolled students.
Reflection on the employability of PhD graduates is also promoted by financial mechanisms, i.e. through young researcher schemes as well as the new scheme for the co-funding of doctoral studies. The latter promotes doctoral studies, designed in such a way that the students’ research contributes to the resolution of business problems or current social challenges.
Knowledge is assessed by oral or written exams and by completing seminar papers. The numerical assessment scale is from 1 to 10, according to which 6 is the lowest positive grade and 10 is the highest. Individual obligations may also be assessed with a simple ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ or ‘pass with distinction’. The second and third years of study are meant for research work.
In the second year, students must present the topic of their doctoral dissertation. It is on the basis of the commission’s assessment grade that the senate of the higher professional institution certifies the topic. The results of the research work must be presented in at least one article, published in an internationally recognized periodical, which has been indexed by the SCI or the SSCI and is from a relevant scientific field. The students must be the leading authors of the article. The doctoral dissertation must be an independent, authentic contribution to the scientific field in question. It is assessed by a commission, which is appointed by the senate of the higher professional institute. It normally consists of three members, with one of the members being from another higher professional or research institution. Suitable foreign experts are often members of the commission. The students must publicly defend their doctoral dissertation before the commission.
Upon the completion of a third cycle study programme of a higher professional institution, students are awarded a diploma with their official scientific title Doctor of Science (doktor znanosti). The diploma may also state the academic field the title is derived from, but the aforementioned academic field is not a component of the academic title. Along with a diploma, students also receive a Diploma Supplement (free of charge, in Slovenian and in one of the official languages of the EU). The regulations for the conferral of the diplomas following the completion of the joint doctoral study programmes are the same as for the completion of the joint first or second cycle study programmes.
Recognition of higher education qualifications in the Republic of Slovenia is governed by the Evaluation and recognition of education Act (sl) and based on the Convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education in the european regio (sl). The ENIC-NARIC centre operates within the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport with the role of the national information centre pursuant to the provisions of the Convention. Main responsibilities of the centre include collecting and submission of information on the Slovenian education system and foreign education systems, administration of procedures and issuing of opinions on education in accordance with the law, preparation of public information for users, international cooperation in ENIC-NARIC networks and broader international cooperation.
Due to the gradual introduction of the Bologna study programmes, it will no longer possible to complete the old study programmes at higher professional institutions in Slovenia after the 2015/16 academic year. This is also the case with study programmes conferring the title of Master of Science (magisterij znanosti) or Specialisation (specializacije), which is in accordance with the change of provisions of the Higher education Act (sl) classifying them under the third cycle programmes. According to the Decree on the classification system of education (sl), they are classified at level 8/1. Graduates with a diploma of the old university study programme (4 to 6 years in duration) may apply to these programmes. The programme officially of two year’s study consists of 120 credits – as a rule, 90 for the specialised study of subjects from the selected field of study or scientific discipline and 30 for research work or the composition of the MA thesis. Graduates are awarded a diploma and an academic title, usually Master of Science (magister znanosti) or Master of Arts (magister umetnosti). Graduates will be able to continue their studies in the second year of a new doctoral study programme.
Higher professional institutions also offer a variety of short study training programmes that do not confer higher educational qualification. These programmes are developed to broaden and update knowledge that students acquired in the graded programmes. They are accepted by the senates of the higher professional institutions. These programmes become publicly recognised if they are accredited by the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (SQUAA). The components of the graded programmes are determined by law and include the following: fundamental goals, general and subject specific competences, admission requirements, selection criteria, execution methods and the requirements necessary to complete studies. They consist of at least 10 and at most 60 credits. At the completion of the programme, the student is awarded a certificate, which is an official document. These programmes have a long tradition within the fields of study concerned with the education of teachers. Such programmes are also quite common within other fields, for example, economic and business sciences, technical science and health care.
As training study programmes, they can also offer individual modules from the graded study programmes and various other forms of informal teaching, for example: courses, summer schools, training programmes and so on.
If the knowledge and skills from these programmes correspond with the competences determined in the graded programmes, they can be recognised as the completion of study obligations, valued with credits.
With the distribution of public resources at higher professional institutions, post-doctoral projects are encouraged. These include fundamental or applicative research projects, through which researchers, following the acquisition of the doctorate, receive additional research experience, knowledge and training.
Mobility in Higher Education
Mobility in short-cycle vocational higher education and higher education
Mobility of tertiary students
The Slovenian Srategy of higher education internationalisation (en .pdf) has several basic goals and to improve mobility of tertiary students is one of them. Supported by initiatives of international and national programmes both the share of students who exercised mobility abroad and the share of foreign students who had joined the Slovenian higher education to complete certain study obligations in the so-called credit mobility has been increasing slowly but surely since 2008/2009. In the study year 2017/2018, the share of students who went on the short-term credit mobility abroad t. y. was at 3 % of the entire student population. In the student population, there were 4 % foreign students on exchange in Slovenia. The study mobility abroad of Slovenian students in 2014 to 2017 took five and a half months on average, the mobility for placement three and a half months. The most popular mobility destinations of Slovenian students are Germany, Spain, Austria, and Portugal. The opportunity for mobility was taken by 14,500 Slovenian students from 2007 to 2018.
Mobility promoting programmes
The Erasmus+, the leading European programme in education and training, aims largely at supporting projects of mobility in short-cycle higher and higher education. The study mobility to and from Slovenia is exercised mainly through the Erasmus+ programme.
The Erasmus+ programme provides students with an opportunity to complete study obligations in part (study mobility) or practical training (mobility for placement) in the programmes of Erasmus+ countries and partner countries. Students may go on a study mobility abroad for no less than 3 and no more than 12 months, for practical training for no less than 2 and no more than 12 months. Since 2014, the mobility for placement has been open to the so-called young graduates, namely the candidate may take on the opportunity within 1 year after the completion of the undergraduate and/or postgraduate studies.
The majority of programmes of student mobility in Slovenia is under the auspice of the Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for mobility and European programmes of education and training (CMEPIUS) in cooperation with the Ministry of education, science and sport (MIZŠ). The Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia (Fund) allocates every year additional funds for students in the Erasmus+ programme. Thus, students receive extra funds to their monthly Erasmus+. All to widen access to international mobility.
The Ministry of education, science and sport (MIZŠ) puts into practice a complementary scheme for mobility Erasmus+ students with socially weaker background and allocating funds of the European social funds for that purpose. The scheme is aimed at extra co-financing the Erasmus+ grant for those Slovenian students that come from socially weaker circumstances, and allow equal access to the activities of the Erasmus+ mobility to students with disadvantages background, improve the quality and impact of mobility, as well as promote the acquisition of new competences for better employability. In the scope of the scheme, Erasmus+ students from socially weaker circumstances receive extra funds, namely in the amount of €270 per month. The MIZŠ has planned spending of €3.5 million for this purpose and the period of 2016 to 2019.
Since 2014 the Erasmus Mundus has been a component part of the Erasmus+ programme, under the name Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree. In the Erasmus Mundus programme, students from any country in the world, Slovenia too, may apply for the Erasmus Mundus grant to study in one of the eminent international shared study programmes developed and implemented by the consortium of European or even non-European universities. Such programmes have the advantage in allowing students to exchange 2 to 3 universities or educational institutions during the postgraduate study programme (from 2 to 4 semesters). This kind of implementation of the study programme allows students to improve the quality of studies, deepen the specific knowledge, as well as familiarise with various cultural environments and societies. The mobility in these programmes is compulsory. The part of the Erasmus Mundus programme giving students the option to enrol in shared doctoral study programme that ended in 2013, had been assigned to the (EU) programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020 (activity Marie Skłodowska-Curie).
Erasmus+ programme loans
The Erasmus+ Master Degree Loansare new to the Erasmus+ programme. The loans for Master degree study programmes guaranteed by EU and with more favourable repayment terms are available to Master degree students, namely to cover the whole run of the programme. In 2017, candidates had the opportunity to receive the loan Erasmus+ for the Master degree study programme at 5 institutions. One anticipates to add new institutions to the number every year and so increase the possibilities for students and extend the choice of target countries and universities.
Slovenia is one of the founding members (1994) of the Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies (CEEPUS). Currently, the CEEPUS III has been in operation and it will end in April 2025. Basic principles of the programme implementation and its content are similar to those of the European community’s programme. The programme promotes equal partnership among members and in inter-university networks, and supports with scholarships the realisation of the EU goal to improve mobility. Its added value is in its regional coverage as it enables equal partnership, cooperation and exchange with countries that are not (yet) members of the European Union. Inter-university networks provide opportunities for 3 to 10-month mobility of students and short-term mobility of higher education staff under the condition that the study exchange had been validated and recognised at the home institution. Since the implementation of the first agreement in 1994, over 50,000 students and staff exchanged within the programme.
The CEEPUS member states are:
Albany, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, and Kosovo with special status.
The priority goals of the third programme term focus on common study programmes at a doctoral level and cooperation in the scope of the Strategy EU for the Danube region. The activities of the National CEEPUS office are pursued at CMEPIUS.
Slovenian has entered into bilateral agreements on funding study exchange in the academic year 2018/2019 with: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, People’s Republic of China, Russia, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Serbia, and Turkey.
The bilateral agreements give Slovenian students the possibility to apply for study exchange as well as scholarship in calls for application of foreign institutions.
The public fund promotes short-term mobility by co-financing the participation at international contents of knowledge or research abroad, implementing the Fulbright Scholar Program for visits of doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers to USA, as well as by co-financing doctoral or post-doctoral studies or research at the European University Institute (EUI).
Students study visits outside international programmes and bilateral schemes
The Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia (Fund) provides scholarships for short-term mobility not included in the existing scholarship programmes in the scope of the Scholarships for study visits abroad of upper secondary students and staff. Candidates for this kind of scholarships are students on a study visit at a foreign institution that the student’s home educational institution in Slovenia had validated and recognised as part of the relevant study programme obligation. Public fund has been promoting with this programme the own initiative of students to search and set up new opportunities for mobility outside conventional scopes and programmes and tailored to the student’s study interest.
The public fund makes a call for application in the scope of development agreements each year for candidates to receive scholarships for postgraduate Eastern Balkans students (target regions in the scope of the internationalisation strategy). In the cooperation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, there are scholarships available to study in Slovenia for citizens of different countries recipients of the development support. The citizenship, realm and field of study are specified with each public call separately.
The Ministry of Culture (MK) awards every year scholarships for education and training abroad in arts and culture. The call for application usually comes out in April and it is published online on the webpage of the Ministry.
Full support for studying abroad
The public fund supports the students who decide to go abroad to acquire the full educational in the programme of Ad futura scholarship for study abroad. Scholarships are available to post-graduate candidates in natural science, technics and health, and postgraduate candidates in all fields except arts and cultures. Scholarships should cover the fees and living expenses.
Assessment and recognition of knowledge
The competent authority to assess and recognise the level of educational qualification acquired abroad for continuing education in Slovenian is the educational institution on which the candidate wishes to continue education. The competent authority to assess the educational qualification for employment in Slovenia is the Ministry of education, science and sport, the seat of the ENIC-NARIC centre.
Procedures are specified by the law on assessment and recognition of education and training, and relevant to international and national regulations and international agreements on recognition of education and training ratified by the Republic of Slovenia. The Assessment and recognition of education Act (en) that replaced the recognition procedures in Slovenia came into effect in 2004.
Because of numerous amendments to the school systems and implementation of the Bologna system, the law had to be amended, in particular the provisions on recognition of education and training for employment purposes. The amended act was adopted in 2011.
In the scope of Erasmus+ and CEEPUS programmes, the background for recognition of learning outcomes and obligations realised during mobility the study agreement between the home institution, hosting institution and a student. The agreement signed before the departure specify content the student shall study abroad, obligations the student will have to complete, and the number of credit points awarded. The description of the scope and type of practical training is included in the agreement on training signed by all interested parties: home institution and hosting institution at which the student shall do the practical training abroad. The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System or comparable system facilitate the transfer of credit points and recognition of obligations realised abroad.
Mobility of short-cycle tertiary and higher education teachers
To improve the mobility abroad of Slovenian higher education teachers and education staff has been one of the strategic aims specified with the Strategy for the internationalisation of Slovenian higher education. The indicator inthe action plan of the strategy 2016 to 2018 (en .pdf) was targeted at 8 % mobile higher education staff until 2020. The planned actions for the realisation of the target include promotional events, financial incentives for mobility, elimination of administrative barriers, and inciting Slovenian citizens on staff at foreign institutions or after completing their doctoral studies abroad to return to Slovenia.
The share of mobile higher education staff was at 7.3 % in 2016/2017 compared to 3 % in 2008/2009; it has been approaching the target goal of the internationalisation strategy.
The aspiration of higher education staff mobility is supported by the Minimal standards for election for appointment of higher education teachers, research staff and higher education staff at higher education institutions. They specify that candidates should submit alongside applicable bibliography, provable citations in scientific literature, and positive evaluation by reporters for election to a title, evidence on successful participation in the international realm, as well. To be elected to a title assistant professor or research fellow, candidates have to be active in international realm. Under special conditions for election to a title associate professor or senior research fellow and professor or research counsellor, the criteria state that candidates shall purse after completed doctoral studies no less than 3 months continuously research or pedagogical activities at a quality foreign university or research institutions.
The exchange of higher education staff is pursued in international programmes, such as Erasmus+ and CEEPUS, bi- or multilateral agreements, programmes or schemes that are coordinated by educational institutions alone or their international offices.
The realisation of the action plan is financially backed by funds of the Erasmus+ European programme that promotes the higher education staff mobility, and by national calls for application in cohesion policy projects under the responsibility of the MIZŠ.
National initiatives for higher education staff mobility
The first and foremost aim of the scheme for mobility of Slovenian higher education teachers(sl) is to better the international profile of the Slovenian higher education and partnership linkage with foreign higher education institutions; at the same time, it allows for the exchange of lecturers from Slovenia at foreign higher education institutions.
In June 2018, the Ministry of education, science and sport published yet second public call for application in the scope of the scheme, namely the public call for Higher education staff mobility 2018–2021 (sl) estimated at €2.1 million that are financed in part by the development funds of the European structural funds. The call for application is planned for the realisation of mobility of at least 150 Slovenian higher education teachers of 3 to 6 months. During mobility, the Slovenian higher education teacher who is at least part-time staff at the higher education institution in Slovenia has to participate in the organised study process at the foreign institution.
The Ministry of education, science and sport published via the Fund a call for application in 2016 (€1.46 million) and in 2018 (€0.95 million) to fund project visiting at Slovenian higher education institutions with the aim to promote visiting of Slovenian doctors of science that pursue their activities abroad at Slovenian higher education institutions. In total, there were or are planned to be financed 70 visiting activities of 3 to 12 months. In 2019, one plans to make another call for application estimated at €1.25 million.
The goals of the higher education internationalisation strategy include also the promotion of the foreign higher education teacher mobility to Slovenia. Slovenia has been promoting through various programmes and actions the increase in number of visiting foreign professionals and higher education teachers at Slovenian higher education institutions. Further to the European programme Erasmus+, bilateral agreements and exchange in the networks of the CEEPUS programme, the Ministry of education, science and sport published a call for application to fund Shorter and longer visits of foreign professionals and higher education teachers at Slovenian higher education institutions 2016 to 2018 estimated at €3 million, namely in the scope of the cohesion policy actions. The call planned for over 350 activities of visiting professionals.
International programmes for promotion of short-cycle tertiary and higher education teachers
The Erasmus+ programme is the manifested and leading programme for mobility of teachers and education staff in short-cycle tertiary and higher education. The teachers have got the opportunity to perform 8 hours of lectures at a higher education institution in one of the programme or partner countries, namely as part of the short-term staff mobility of 2 days (5 days from and into partner countries) to 2 months. The education staff and teachers improve their competence in the scope of various trainings (participation at an international week abroad, job shadowing, attending a workshop, study visit) of 2 days to 2 months at any institution abroad that has the capacity to impart the knowledge and share experience the staff needs to improve the quality of own work, as well as for professional and personal development. In the Erasmus+ programme and its predecessor from 2007 to 2016, this kind of teaching and training was pursued by over 4,100 higher education teachers and other education staff.
The CEEPUS is a regional programme for the exchange activities of higher education teachers (weekly to monthly) through the implementation of visiting lectures at a higher education institution in member countries that include a 6-hour pedagogical obligation in all 5 days of mobility. The programme operates based on networks. Individual universities, faculties and their departments set up a network of similar or complementary study content.