STA, 25 September 2019 - Italian students who have started studying or have already graduated from physiotherapy in Slovenia are prevented from finishing their studies due to an amendment of the health services act adopted in 2017 which requires them to gain a B2 level certificate in Slovenian even if they are not planning to work in Slovenia.
A lot of them are thus not able to pass an examination on professional competence since the certificate is required to sit the exam and complete their studies, the students highlighted at today's press conference in Ljubljana.
They have set up Initiative 300 Italy, an action group that raises the issue of their predicament. The amendment will strip the young of their careers and future and destroy many of their lives and families as well as their financial stability and health, said the students.
They pointed out that 18 students passed the exam in professional competence with an interpreter before the law changed, while the rest have been prevented from doing that.
About 150 Italian physiotherapy graduates are waiting for the law to change, while some 30 are still studying. The Alma Mater Europaea Faculty stopped running this course in a foreign language after the amendment, causing about a hundred students to switch faculties.
The Health Ministry told the STA that the students had been misled. In 2016, the then minister endorsed an agreement that allowed students to pass the professional competence exam with an interpreter, but the new legislation does not envisage that anymore.
The remaining students have been informed about the change and thus cannot be exempted from passing the B2 level, according to the ministry.
Lawyer Mihaela Pudgar, who is representing individual students, said today that the amendment had put the students in an unequal position, making them unable to finish their studies in a language in which they were pursuing them and under the conditions that were stated at the start of their studies.
Moreover, Pudgar said that Slovenia had wrongly implemented the European directive on recognition of professional qualifications.
According to her, the 2013 directive lays down that a language certificate needs to be acquired after completing the studies, while Slovenia requires the students to submit it before that, Pudgar told the STA.
She highlighted that the country should not be preventing students who are not to work in Slovenia from finishing their education using the directive.
Pudgar added that the current legislation was in violation of the Slovenian constitution, including a ban on retroactive force of legal acts, equality before the law and the right to education.
It also violates the general administrative procedure act, which lays down that students are entitled to an interpreter, said Pudgar.
The ministry believes that the students can kick off a procedure of recognizing education gained in Slovenia in Italy, thus continuing their educational process in their home country.
However, the students said today that Italy had let them know they should first pass the professional competence examination in Slovenia.
The students have informed a couple of former health ministers about their predicament - former Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc, who was at the helm of the ministry when the issue emerged, and her successor, former Health Minister Samo Fakin.
They said they had been promised a withdrawal of the amendment, but that has not yet happened. They have informed current Health Minister Aleš Šabeder of the issue as well, but have not yet received a response.
They have also prepared another health services act amendment and informed President Borut Pahor and Ombudsman Peter Svetina about the situation.
Moreover, the students are deliberating to take the issue to the court if it does not get resolved before. Some of them are also considering to bring damages actions.