Annexes

      Tertiary Education in the Slovak Republic as an Educational Policy Agenda.

Juraj Vantuch/ Danica Brendzova

 

After the political change in 1989 former Czechoslovakia similarly to other countries in transition from planned economy to market economy reflected the necessity of renewal of  the educational and training system. De-ideologisation of the public life, a welcomed need of plurality and similarly perceived need of a renewed upholding of human rights and freedoms and hand in hand with this also a recognition of students’ and pupils’ right to influence as much as possible the choice of their education and training, all this provided for an atmosphere of a necessary and rapid change.

 In fact both basic laws, amendment to the Law on Regional Education and a new Law on Higher Education have been passed in a rapid pace in May 1990 as 171/1990 and 172/1990.  Both legal norms could be characterised as an effort to rapidly liberalise the situation in education. In this short period of time there was neither time enough nor a strong need to consider further steps of transformation of education. It was a purely political action enhanced by the newly gained freedom. The principles of the new educational policy were quite clear, but the long term strategy for development of the Higher Education  started to develop. It was an immense contribution to the reflexion on further direction of Higher Education in Czechoslovakia completed in co-operation with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in March 1992. And by the way, it is a pity for the regional education in Slovakia, that compared to Czech Republic, there is an absence of a similar impulse while forming educational policy of regional education.

 

The OECD examiners identified six crucial items, which were considered essential for the further development of the Slovak  (and Czech) higher education and they formulated six recommendations.

1.        Developing an Instrument for Setting Overall Policy, Long-Term Strategy and Priorities in Higher Education

2.        Towards an Enlarged and Diversified System of Higher Education

3.        Towards More Efficient Internal Structures

4.        Enhancing the Quality and Relevance of Research and its Relation to Teaching

5.        Renewal of Academic Staff and Modernisation of Studies

6.        Towards More Flexible and Diversified Funding of Higher Education

 

It is a paradox that these six items are topical the same way even seven years after they had been formulated. At the time of establishing independent Slovakia on January 1st 1993, as priorities occurred problems concerning building of institutions that were necessary for existing of an independent state and  problems concerning transformation of the enterprise sphere – above all lucrative privatisation process. The academic community again didn’t  manage to find either peace in order  to reach consensus while formulating the basic vital principles, nor enough impetus to clarify them. The only OECD recommendation that has been completed seems to be huge increase of the number of Higher Education students. Currently there are 24% of a population year to enroll to the higher education compared to the 15% of the population prepared to study in HEI in 1989.

Trends after 1989 are shown in Tab 1 and  Tab 2.

 

Tab. 1

1989 – 1998 Higher Education Institutions Basic Features Trends (Absolute Numbers)

 

Year

Schools

Full time study

Part time study

Teachers

Students

Enrolled

Graduates

Students

Enrolled

Graduates

Full time

Part time

1989

13

49154

12889

9254

9708

2375

966

8059

1736

1990

13

52669

13404

7913

9434

1868

1065

7818

1770

1991

13

52430

13178

8961

7307

738

1605

7873

1076

1992

14

55564

16008

8828

7281

1629

1553

8103

1248

1993

14

58843

18093

8824

8351

2685

1536

7769

623

1994

14

66900

20027

6841

8279

3117

1785

7781

979

1995

14

72525

20809

9304

10457

3881

1863

8014

1141

1996

14

78043

22293

10118

13323

4955

1137

8455

1105

1997

18

82432

23120

12707

18040

7113

1798

8783

1407

1998

18

85742

23212

12753

23590

8839

2282

8948

1974

Source: Institute of Information and Prognosis of Education .  Tabled by authors.

 

 

Tab. 2

1989 – 1998  Higher Education Institutions Basic Features Trends  (Index 1989 = 100)

 

Year

Schools

1.1.1.1.1.1          Full time study

Part time study

Teachers

Students

Enrolled

Graduates

Students

Enrolled

Graduates

Full time

Part time

1989

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

1990

100,0

107,2

104,0

85,5

97,2

78,7

110,2

97,0

102,0

1991

100,0

106,7

102,2

96,8

75,3

31,1

166,1

97,7

62,0

1992

107,7

113,0

124,2

95,4

75,0

68,6

160,8

100,5

71,9

1993

107,7

119,7

140,4

95,4

86,0

113,1

159,0

96,4

35,9

1994

107,7

136,1

155,4

73,9

85,3

131,2

184,8

96,6

56,4

1995

107,7

147,5

161,4

100,5

107,7

163,4

192,9

99,4

65,7

1996

107,7

158,8

173,0

109,3

137,2

208,6

117,7

104,9

63,7

1997

138,5

167,7

179,4

137,3

185,8

299,5

186,1

109,0

81,0

1998

138,5

174,4

180,1

137,8

243,0

372,2

236,2

111,0

113,7

Source: Institute of Information and Prognosis of Education . Tabled by authors.

 

Higher Education in Slovakia is currently represented by 21 state higher education institutions, out of this number 18 are civil HEI, 2 military academies and 1 police academy. Out of the civil HEI 2 are not divided into faculties (Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava and University of Veterinary Medicine in Kosice). The other 16 state civil HEI contain 80 faculties, some of them are located out of the HEI seat. After 1990 all of the existing HEI started to be called universities. No matter whether there was a reason for such a change in title and very often despite criticism of the academic community and Ministry of Education, the Slovak Parliament being under the pressure of local lobbies granted this favor. During 1995 – 1998 there have been established 8 faculties within the existing HEI and 4 new HEI (Presov University in Presov, Trencin University in Trencin, Academy of Arts in Banska Bystrica and University of St.Cyril and Methodius in Trnava) with 12 faculties. As the first one out of this list came into existence by separating from the Safarik University with its seat in Kosice, the other three were established as completely new ones and their starting has been criticised . These schools containing hardly 2% of the HE population used 30% of capital costs and 4,8% of salaries of all 18 HEI. Tab 3 shows, that such investments must have caused discontent of the rest of the schools.

 

Tab.3

Higher Education Expenditures in Slovakia in 1990- 1997

 

 

Year

 

1990

 

1991

 

1992

 

1993

 

1994

 

1995

 

1996

 

1997

 

Total expenditures in current prices in Billions of SKK

 

2,708

 

3,048

 

3,247

 

3,050

 

2,992

 

4,287

 

4,625

 

5,423

 

Total expenditures in constant prices of 1989 in Billions of SKK

 

2,448

 

1,710

 

1,656

 

1,262

 

1,092

 

1,424

 

1,457

 

1,604

 

Expenditures per student in current prices in Thousands of SKK

 

49,06

 

52,45

 

56,01

 

48,72

 

43,35

 

54,80

 

54,27

 

57,68

 

Expenditures per student in constant prices in Thousands of SKK

 

44,36

 

29,42

 

28,56

 

20,17

 

15,82

 

18,20

 

17,09

 

17,06

Source: Conception of Further Development of Higher Education up to the year 2005 ( and perspective till 2015 ).  Ministry of Education

 

Trencin University may one day have an important regional role. Trencin was the only county seat without a university, even if there is a very successful City University. University of St.Cyril and Methodius is already the third HEI in Trnava, a town with 71 641 inhabitants (Census 1991) and moreover, it is in a 50 km distance from the capital.

Academy of Arts in Banska Bystrica is a small institution. There were 144 students and 35 teachers there in 1988 and the capacity of the two Academies of Arts in Bratislava is sufficient for the whole country.

The HEI network in Slovakia is extensive as the Ministry of Education declared in 1988. There are 254 000 inhabitants that come to one university. Compared with Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland, which is in this  aspect most compatible with EU (according to the UNESCO statistics 1997, gradually 459 000 and 940 000) it is obvious, that this is an inadequate increase. On the contrary, an optimalisation effort will be topical, as seen from the Tab 4.

 

Tab. 4

Higher Education Institutions Breakdown  in 1998

 

Higher Education Institutions

 

Students Total

 

%

 

Teachers

 

Student/Teachers Ratio

Population

 In the Seat of the HEI in 1991

Population

in the county

in 1995

CU

20 810

18,8

2 156

9,65

441 453

618 290

UPJĐ

3 811

3,4

400

9,53

234 840

756 005

PU

5 736

5,2

436

13,16

87 788

768 719

UCM

874

0,8

53

16,49

71 641

547 967

UVM

649

0,6

156

4,16

234 840

756 005

UCP

7 151

6,5

374

19,12

89 888

717 624

TU

2 957

2,7

138

21,43

71 641

547 967

UMB

8 113

7,3

526

15,42

85 007

663 992

STU

15 499

13,1

1 597

9,08

441 453

618 290

TUK

10 839

9,8

893

12,14

234 840

756 005

7 701

7,0

595

12,94

83 853

685 365

TNU

1 214

1,1

83

14,63

56 733

609 888

EU

14 111

12,7

493

28,62

441 453

618 290

SUA

8 005

7,2

477

16,78

89 888

717 624

TUZ

2 842

2,6

238

11,94

41 935

663 992

APA

740

0,7

223

3,32

441 453

618 290

AFAD

511

0,4

75

6,81

441 453

618 290

AA

144

0,1

35

4,11

85 007

663 992

TOTAL

110 707

100

8948

12,37

-

 -

Source: Institute of  Information and Prognosis of Education

 

AA

ACADEMY OF ARTS IN BANSKÁ BYSTRICA

AFAD

ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS AND DESIGN IN BRATISLAVA

APA

ACADEMY OF PERFORMING ARTS IN BRATISLAVA

CU

COMENIUS UNIVERSITY IN BRATISLAVA

EU

UNIVERSITY OF ECONOMICS IN BRATISLAVA

PU

UNIVERSITY OF PREĐOV IN PREĐOV

STU

SLOVAK TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY IN BRATISLAVA

SUA

SLOVAK UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE IN NITRA

TNU

UNIVERSITY OF TRENČÍN IN TRENČÍN

TU

UNIVERSITY OF TRNAVA IN TRNAVA

TUK

TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY IN KOĐICE

TUZ

TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY IN ZVOLEN

UCM

UNIVERSITY OF ST.CYRIL AND METHODIUS IN TRNAVA

UCP

UNIVERSITY OF CONSTANTINUS PHILOSOPHER IN NITRA

UMB

MATEJ BEL UNIVERSITY IN BANSKÁ BYSTRICA

UPJĐ

UNIVERSITY OF PAVOL JOZEF ĐAFÁRIK IN KOĐICE

UVM

UNIVERSITY OF VETERINARY MEDICINE IN KOĐICE

UNIVERSITY OF ŢILINA IN ŢILINA

 

Absence of a development strategy in HEI is obvious from not solving the problems having been identified by the OECD experts, but also from not completing the resolution (No.786/1997) of the government meeting with the HEI rectors in 1997. HEI live still in terms of centrifugal forces in macro-management, lack of financial resources for technological development and human resources development. Low salaries caused brain drain instead of the proclaimed strengthening of research character of the universities. Lack of interest in the career of a HEI teacher leads to over-age of teaching staff. This is obvious from the age of professors and associated professors, who should according to the law guarantee the quality of the universities. Tab 5 shows the results of a probe as carried out by the reporters in 1999.   

 

Tab. 5

Teachers with titles Professor and Docent  (Ass. Prof. ) in selected HEI

 

HEI / Teachers

Prof.

 

Average Age

Ass. Prof.

Average Age

TNU

16

66

23

55

AA

12

63,7

14

60

UCM

21

71,7

35

63,3

AFAD

14

56

27

46

TU

28

63

97

55

EU

40

63

150

56

CU

196

61,5

520

53

UMB

46

62,5

135

53,3

PU

26

61

48

53

Source: Higher Education Supplement of the Pravda newspaper, 28.4.1999, p.9

 

Despite OECD recommendations and despite the initiatives dated back to the early ninetees 

There has not been a development of a non-university HE. The new law made possible for introduction of a shorter form of study, but not for establishing non-university HEI. Despite the repeated attempts to amend the law 172/90, which would have supported establishing of professional higher education institutions, there have not been yet conditions for them to come to existence.

Bachelor study does not have a tradition in Slovakia and it could be considered to be marginal. HE is free of charge in Slovakia, that’s why the students do not take in consideration, when choosing the branch of study, the costs and possibly the lost profit. Bachelor study is usually accepted as a second best choice and “short cycle” is often considered to be “incomplete”. The public is not really familiar with the title “Bc” (bachelor) on the contrary to the titles conferred on graduates of the “complete” HE.

 

The following additional titles are conferred on graduates of 4 to 6 years study:

A/ “Magister” (Mgr.) at universities, theological faculties and academies of art,

B/ “Engineer” (Ing.) at technological, economic and agricultural universities and colleges,

C/ “Doctor of Universal Medicine” (MUDr.) and “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine” (MVDr)

      At medical faculties and veterinary university,

D/ “Bachelor” (Bc.)

 

The OECD experts supported establishment of a significant network of institutions providing for  short cycle higher education. Slovak system of higher education institutions  should have consist of three main categories of higher education institutions:

1. multidisciplinary universities

2. specialised university-type and level institutions

3. "professional higher education schools"

Short-cycle higher education should have been offered by all these three categories of higher education institutions, while traditional long-cycle studies should have been offered only by the first two categories. It was expected and suggested by experts, that some 20% of total higher education enrolments will concern the third category in the year 2 000.

 The university sector managed to increase its performance but the problem of establishing non university higher education and mainly vocational non university higher education could not be shifted at side.  It is necessary to expand the range of educational opportunities for secondary schools graduates. Further increase of enrollment to the HE could possibly lead to the decrease of study requirements or to increase of drop outs and/or to non-effective  allocation of funds. It is necessary to have in mind also those for whom the very theoretical study could be too demanding or simply in terms of their professional plans, redundant.

 It is worth to mention that the provisions connected with professional higher education schools were not contained in the draft amendment of the law 172/90 prepared in 1995. It is not important that after all this amendment was not passed, but it is important that "no such requirement was submitted either on the part of the academic senates of higher education institutions, or on the part of the Higher Education Council, the representative body of higher education self-government". (2)

 

 Within the framework of the PHARE programme "Renewal of Education System in the SR" elaborated in 1999 and carried out in 1992 – 1995, there existed a sub-programme with the aim to support non-university higher education in the SR The sub-programme contained six secondary specialised schools two commercial, and one electrotechnical, one mechanical engineering, one hotel management and one health care studies, which, in co-operation with foreign professional higher education institutions, experimentally introduced a 3-year higher professional study. The ambitions of these institutions were aimed towards transforming to higher education institutions providing short cycles of higher education with special focus on Labour Market needs and " stress was  placed ..upon effective practical training...lasting one semester at least " ( 3 ) This project was originally managed by KL Transfer  De Hoogescholen Katholieke Leergangen in Tilburg and Institute of Information and Prognoses of Education, Youth and Sports in Bratislava. Despite the fact that it was a very successful project, there are no legislation conditions to recognize education that is being provided by this schools, as HE. Graduates of some of these schools are demanded very much, for instance graduates of banking study branch at commercial academy in Bratislava are very successful and in the private sector they get evaluation which is equal with the one of HE, despite the fact, that formally they are graduates of a secondary school only.  

 

Within the framework of the sub-programme, there were also three faculties of the Slovak higher education institutions represented in the experiment, in particular, the Faculty of Professional Studies at the Slovak Technical University in Trnava, the Faculty of Professional Studies at the Technical University in Kođice, and the Faculty of Economics at the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica.

Unlike the upgrading of secondary specialised schools, that lead towards a new educational offer, and it is only a matter of time to have a legislative solution for this type of schools, the faculties of professional studies did not find its place. Symptomatic is the fate of the Faculty of Professional Studies of the Slovak Technical University in Trnava, which  was dissolved by the decision of the Academic Senate of STU in 1995.  The reasons that led  the management and Academic Senate of STU to dissolve the Faculty were (2):

"- lack of complex legislation for professional (non-university) higher education,

- a model of PHE built-up within the framework of a university is unacceptable for the further development of STU under the present day conditions, conflict of professional and university interests sticking to the fact, that according to the "Framework Concept of Further Development of STU" approved by the Scientific Council, the STU development is declared to be "a research university".

- initial intention to educate professional engineers for the branch of engineering industry and business economy, i.e., for the needs of industry was changed, the FPS started expanding towards the area of social sciences and labor security,

- the FPS pilot project has not been granted till now a sufficient financial support on the part of the sectors of education, industry and regions,

- the FPS initially understood as a regional one gradually changed into a Faculty with nation­wide competence,

- The full-time form of study was expanded by the part-time study (as much as 50% of students), and thus the FPS lost its original mission, i.e., the preparation for practice, since these students are already on the job,

- the production and non-production organizations in Slovakia are not able to secure for the FPS students a sufficient number of posts for two semesters of professional practice directly in manufacture."

 

An unclear conception together with the apprehension of technical universities that face the decrease free vacations for their graduates and lack of finances for the modernisation cause

the break of development of higher professional education. Restructuring of Slovak economy would certainly help its re-starting.  The enterprises have been privatised,  but the problems concerning their production programme are still there. The problems of vocational tertiary education are similar to the problems of secondary vocational education and training caused by the turbulencies of the transformation of economy.

Since 1976 school reform, there have been 3 streams of secondary education exactly defined  - academic, general stream represented by Grammar School, vocational education stream,  represented by Secondary Specialised Schools and the stream of training for worker occupations represented by Secondary Vocational Schools. A detailed description of Slovak school system is shown in (4).

General education leading to ”non-production sector” occupations was much less appreciated by the communist regime than education leading to productive worker occupations and to origination of  “technical intelligence”. Therefore, the vocational aspects of secondary education were stressed by the so-called poly-technical principle. This meant that also students of Grammar Schools had to pass basics of vocational training in some of sectoral branches (machinery, electrotechnics, chemical technology, construction, agriculture, programming, economy). On the other hand, students of newly created 4-year courses at SVS were for the first time allowed to receive full secondary education (completed by maturita examination), which entitled them to apply for higher education studies. Whereas the Ministry of Education and the state administration funded both SSS and Grammar Schools, most of SVS were strongly affiliated to enterprises. SVS graduates were prepared for specific enterprises, which co-financed the schools. Contrary to SSS and Grammar Schools, SVS were developed considerably. Moreover, SVS students received student benefits as incentives for attracting their interest in courses according to planned quotas and structure. SVS students were engaged, within their practical training, in productive work. Compared to other secondary school students, they also benefited from legal earnings. Enrolment numbers were planned according to the estimation of needs and the structure of labour force, derived from the planned industrialisation controlled by the state. According to this plan, 60 per cent of Basic School leavers had to go to SVS, and just 15 per cent to Grammar Schools.

Immediately after the political change in 1989, strong pressures occurred towards enhancing the academic, general education stream capacity. With respect to vocational education and training, there were pressures for increasing the capacity of SSS over the capacity of SVS. The poly-technical principle was spontaneously rejected by Grammar Schools. Basics of vocational training at Grammar Schools were removed due to the low students’ interest, with the exception of basics of economy and programming.  Enrolment trends of students in upper secondary education are shown in the Table 6.

 

Table 6.

1988 - 1997 Enrolment in Secondary education

 

Year

G

SSS

SVS

1988

15,12%

24,16%

60,72%

1989

15,76%

25,14%

59,10%

1990

17,41%

29,31%

53,28%

1991

17,89%

32,06%

50,05%

1992

18,65%

33,06%

48,30%

1993

19,32%

33,00%

47,69%

1994

19,84%

32,91%

47,24%

1995

19,88%

32,80%

47,32%

1996

19,95%

33,74%

46,30%

1997

20,62%

32,29%

47,09%

Source: Institute of Information and Prognoses

 

In the original conception of SVS, maximum 44 per cent of instruction time should have been allocated to general subjects. There was a 4-month vocational training course included in initial education at SVS. After the completion of this course, and reaching the age of 18, the students were supposed to leave school and get a job. Organisation of this kind of training for SVS students was felt by enterprises, facing a threat of dismissing qualified skilled workers, as an unprofitable economic burden. More and more SVS had to face problems with achieving their aims of practical training. Practical training gradually lost its scope and quality. It could be stated that SVS started their way towards a transformation into schools similar in their nature to that of  SSS. ( 5 )

It should be stressed that this situation would last as long as national and  regional industrial policy is drafted, and restructuring, delayed for a long time, would take place. Until then, it is just an illusion to expect that SVS would distract from their Basic School leavers' demand driven  policy and turn their attention to the labour market. The same goes also for tertiary education. Until then the secondary vocational education and training and consequently the tertiary vocational education will suffer from the lack of impulses and incentives from entrepreneurial sector,  the schools will alter their character only when being under the pressure of those interested in the study and with the tendency to protect their existence in a form mostly acceptable for the employees. During the economic depression, when there are practically no job offers on the labour market, (job seekers/vacancy ratio was 44:1 in March 1999 according to the National Labour Office) those who are interested in the study do not take into consideration, not even they can take into consideration the vocational aspects of their education.  On the other hand, impulses from the entrepreneurs are hardly to expect in the situation when they struggle for everyday life and the lack of investments is a break for development and new technologies that might be an incentive in the interest in higher qualified labour force.

 

Bibligraphy and References

 (1) Cerych, L. et al. (1992) Report  of Experts of  the OECD on the Situation and Problems of Czechoslovak Higher Education – Final Conclusions. UIPSMT, Bratislava. Institute of Information and Prognoses of Education, Youth and Sport (1994) Higher Education in the Slovak Republic. UIPSMT, Bratislava.

(2)  Plavcan, Peter (1997) The Present State of and Intentions for Non-university Higher Education in the Slovak Republic after 1995. In: Developing  Non-university Higher Education. Report of the Regional Advisory Mission. Council of Europe 1997, Strasbourg: 46-50.

(3) Hrabinská, M. (1994) The Process of  Diversification of Post-secondary Education In Slovakia. European Journal of Education, Vol. 29, No. 1, 51-59.

(4) Vantuch, J. (1995) Slovak Republic. In: T. Neville Postlethwaite (ed.) International Encyclopedia of National Systems of Education. Elsevier Science Ltd., Oxford: 874-83.

(5) Vantuch, J. – Jelínková, D. (1999) Vocational Education and Training System in Slovakia and its Links to the Labour Market. Slovak National Observatory of VET, Bratislava.

(6) Conception of Further Development of Higher Education up to 2005 (perspective up to 2015), Ministry of Education, 1998

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