Opposition Parties Propose Temporary Lifting of Govt Approval to Speed University Application Process

By , 02 Feb 2021, 09:46 AM Politics
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STA, 1 February 2021 - The opposition Left, backed by three opposition parties, proposes changes to the eighth stimulus package that would temporarily remove the provision saying that the government must okay the call for applications to enrol in university courses.

The move comes after the government did not give its consent to the release of Slovenia's call for enrolment into tertiary education institutions for the 2021-2022 academic year at last week's session.

The Higher Education Act sets down that the institutions publish the call at least six months prior to the start of the academic year, meaning on 1 April at the latest.

Time is running out though as the relevant timeline envisages the deadline to be set around 1 February.

Under the proposal tabled by the Left, the government's approval would not be necessary. The changes would also allow higher education institutions to accept more students than planned in case of greater interest.

Higher education institutions should be able to decide how many students they will accept on their own, the Left said, adding that their proposal, which was backed by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), was in line with a petition against destroying higher education and science published by the academia.

Members of the academia expressed protest against the government's interfering with higher education and science, saying the cabinet was making irrational moves that were undermining the systems that were among the pillars of this country.

The universities of Ljubljana, Maribor and Primorska, as well as the national high school and student organisations, several science and research institutes and trade unions said that the government's move was unexpected and not in line with the practice so far. They also added that just like in the previous years, the relevant document had been coordinated with the relevant ministry.

Mojca Škrinjar, an MP for the senior coalition Democrats (SDS), meanwhile said that there was a purpose in the government's power to decide about the number of openings at faculties. This is a strategic issue, not only in terms of education but also in terms of employability and development, she said.

"All government departments must give this serious thought," she said, adding it was right for the government to take the time it needs to see whether the existing proposal is good.

The Slovenian Democratic Youth (SDM), the SDS youth wing, also thinks the government acted responsibly since it warned that youth employability should be taken into account.

Emilia Stojmenova Duh, the head of SD's council for science, innovation and IT society, said in Maribor today that creating a conflict between science and technology, and humanities was misguided, as the society needed both.

According to her, the number of vacancies for studying science and technology, and humanities in Slovenia was comparable to the situation in other developed countries.

She said that the Employment Service had been looking into which are the professions of the future together with the Labour Ministry, universities and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS). "Such questions require a lot of dialogue with different stakeholders," she stressed.

The Left said that Janša's government had in the past already reduced the number of vacancies at faculties for humanities and favoured private institutions.

The party is convinced Janša is trying to "enforce a capital ideology and decisions on what is productive and what is not". He demands higher education that will serve the market, meaning the capital, and nothing else, the party said.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport published today a call for enrolment into colleges for the 2021/2022 school year, but not for universities and other tertiary education institutions.

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