STA, 28 January 2019 - Slovenia appears to be increasingly appealing to foreign students with data from the country's four publicly-funded universities showing they represent 6% of all students. Most of them come from SE Europe.
Of the 65,640 students enrolled at the four universities this academic year, 3,936 are foreigners. Their share thus rose to over 6% from 4.5% in the previous academic year.
Commenting on the data, Miha Zupančič from the Student Organisation (ŠOS) says that foreign students are attracted by the low study costs, good standard of living, the universities' reputation and quality courses.
Most foreign students come from the region of the former Yugoslavia; Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, and EU countries, as well as from far-away countries such as the US and Canada.
Most foreign students enrol at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia's oldest and largest university. Over the past five years, their number increased from 2,113 to 2,389, so they represent 6.3% of more than 38,000 students there.
The University of Maribor has been seeing similar trends with a similar proportion of foreign students. Their number has risen from 664 five years ago to 920.
By far the largest proportion of foreign students are enrolled at the University of Primorska, rising from 3.7% or 213 foreign students to almost 12% or 572 this academic year.
"The percentage of foreign students is an indicator of the university's international orientation and when it reaches the 10% threshold we can say the university is internationalised," university official Mirella Baruca has told the STA.
The University of Nova Gorica, a private publicly funded institution, enrolled 50 foreign students this academic year. Most of them come from Italy across the border and from former Yugoslav countries.
Most foreign students study economics, and electrical and computer engineering. At the University of Primorska, most foreigners enrol in mathematics, natural sciences and information technology classes.
The universities are increasingly involved in student exchange programmes, mainly through Erasmus+, where the share of mobile students is about 5%.
The University of Ljubljana has 2,122 foreign students on exchange this year. ŠOU data show that most such students come from Spain and Portugal.
"Slovenia is interesting for foreign students because it offers a diversity and beauty of nature in a small area. The colleges are known abroad, they like the people, their friendliness and openness," Mitja Zorič, head of the ŠOU Ljubljana international cooperation department, has told the STA.
Completing their exchange, they would tell you that Slovenia, and Ljubljana in particular, is "designed for Erasmus", being small as well as large, with well organised student dorms, meals, public transport.
What foreign students like best is subsidised meals at restaurants, "they cannot believe the meals are so cheap", Zorič says. They also like the night life and the country's location as a gateway for travel.