STA, 17 November 2019 - Some 46% of 20-24-year-olds in Slovenia are students, which is the highest share among EU countries, according to the Statistics Office. Slovenia had almost 76,000 students in the 2018/19 academic year, mostly women. More than half of all students enrolled in the first cycle graduate successfully, the statistics show.
In terms of the share of students among people aged between 20 and 24, Slovenia is followed in the EU by Greece (44%) and Poland (40%), the Statistics Office said ahead of World Students' Day, 17 November.
There are more women studying in Slovenia than men, and the share of women is also higher in most fields of tertiary education - pedagogy, health, social security, humanities, art, social sciences, information sciences, business and administrative studies, law, agronomy, veterinary studies, natural sciences, mathematics and hospitality and tourism.
Male students predominate only in technical studies, construction and ICT.
Some 60% of women and 42% of men enrolled in the first cycle of tertiary studies in 2010/11 finished their studies.
According to the Statistics Office, young people whose parents have tertiary education are more likely to enrol in tertiary education. In 2017/18, 71% of 19-24-year-olds with at least one parent who finished at least tertiary education enrolled in tertiary education.
STA, 22 October - Parliament backed on Tuesday legislative changes that raise the minimum net hourly rate for student work from EUR 4.13 to EUR 4.56. The opposition Left, which initiated the raise, had been pushing for more, but failed to get support from the coalition and remaining opposition parties, which fear businesses may have trouble handling the new rate.
After the minimum rate for student work, a flexible labour form much sought by employers, was first set only in 2015, the Left made additional regulation one of its conditions for its support to the minority government.
The party put forward its own proposal for changes to the fiscal balance act in July, proposing that the minimum gross rate be raised from EUR 4.89 to EUR 5.90.
The Left later lowered the figure to EUR 5.63, saying this was a compromise reached in negotiations with the coalition, only to see the coalition members of the Finance Committee reduce it further to EUR 5.40 or EUR 4.56 net.
Although voting in favour, coalition MPs also seemed reluctant to back the final figure in today's plenary vote, with Aljaž Kovačič of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) for instance arguing the raise - which will take effect on 1 January 2020 - could lead to more undeclared work and actually harm the students.
Soniboj Knežak of the coalition SocDems also argued more focus should be put on inspections "as opposed to measures that could destroy student work" and Mojca Žnidarič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) criticised the Left for drawing up its proposal without consulting the ministry.
The opposition National Party (SNS) party voted in favour, arguing the raise was only symbolic, New Slovenia (NSi) said it would not oppose the raise while warning the rate needed to calculated so as not to disrupt the market, while the Democrats (SDS) said they could not support it but would also not oppose it.
"For many companies, especially those outside of central Slovenia this means a substantial additional cost. It could happen that this will lead to significant decree in the amount of student work," the SDS's Suzana Lep Šimenko said.
The Left's Miha Kordiš begged to differ, arguing the competitive edge of student work lie not in the hourly rate but in its flexibility. He also called for a comprehensive plan that will make sure "no student's mere survival will depend on them accepting underpaid and indecently precarious labour".
STA, 25 September 2019 - Responding to the scandal involving millions in contentions payments at the University of Maribor, the SVIZ teachers' trade union urged Chancellor Zdravko Kačič to consider resigning for failing to immediately present all the facts to the public and notify the police of potential irregularities.
By resigning, Kačič would facilitate a process in which the payment of some EUR 50 million would have to be cleared up, the union said on Wednesday.
"It is completely unacceptable that the chancellor of the public university Zdravko Kačič did not immediately notify oversight institutions and law enforcement of the findings of the audits into fees payments and of other irregularities which point to suspicion of crime and liability for payment of damages," it said in a release.
The union believes that by failing to act on time, Kačič, chancellor since June 2018, is responsible for major damage the scandal has caused to the country's second-largest public university and its staff.
The SVIZ recalled that a few years ago, the Supreme Court had ruled the university's pay system was unsuitable, failing to remunerate staff in line with academic titles.
The university thus broke the law and saved a lot of money on the back of many of its junior staff, while its elite has been receiving indecent fees, the SVIZ said.
Responding to the appeal, Kačič said he had acted as soon as he received the report, so there was no need for his resignation. "I didn't 'misplace' the document, forget about it or conceal it ... but immediately started dealing with it," he said in a release.
He reiterated that he checked the document, which is neither an audit report nor a legal or expert opinion, on 20 June 2018, the day he took office, then talked to auditors to discuss reviewing the financial transactions, presented it to deans in January and then handed it to university members for comments.
"I kept the university board up to date on all steps and handed all the papers on 9 May to an independent institution for a comprehensive review and a final audit report, which will serve as a basis for the university to take action," the chancellor explained, adding the final report is expected next month.
The SVIZ trade union also called on Education Minister Jernej Pikalo to ask the Court of Audit to review the university's financial operations.
Also responding to the scandal, the VSS trade union of university teachers said it expected Kačič to present documents proving the payments were justified and to sanction the cases when staff had abused office for personal gain.
The VSS urged the state as the founder of the university to change legislation and improve oversight to prevent such cases and to enable science and university education to develop even if they brought no short-term profits.
The head of the VVS shop at the university, Marija Javornik Krečič, said university staff was both disappointed and shocked at the controversial fees.
While the media report about payments worth millions of euro, the trade union had to fight legal battles for proper pay of many of university staff, she said.
The alleged abuse is not just a result of vague rules, but of their disrespect coupled with wild corporate logic penetrating universities and some university teachers appropriating certain faculties and areas of research.
Yesterday, Kačič came out strongly against Friday's media report questioning around EUR 50 million euro in payments to its professors through works contracts.
He said the TV Slovenija report was based on incomplete facts from two reports rather than on audits as stated by TV Slovenija.
The chancellor said he had not been acquainted with the 2017 report by the previous leadership, while he knew about the second one from February 2018.
While stressing that neither had found any irregularities, but merely pointed to potential risks, Kačič said he would present the second report once it was reviewed by an independent institution and became final. Only then would the university take action if necessary.
As for the sum of EUR 50 million, Kačič said it referred to the works contracts for the entire period between 2010 and 2016.
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.
STA, 21 September 2019 - Some EUR 50 million in payments to University of Maribor professors through freelance contracts is contentious, an issue auditor Ernst & Young highlighted back in March 2017, according to last evening's report by TV Slovenija.
It was very high payments to university professors and the university and its faculties' deals with certain companies that Ernst & Young found rather suspicious.
According to TV Slovenija, some professors received almost EUR 30 million in various fees.
Another EUR 20 million was paid to university staff who were treated as external staff (outsourcing).
Five million euro went to various suppliers connected with the university.
The auditors warned of a number of possible irregularities, including tempered calls for applications, tax evasion and fictitious payments.
They even urged a criminal investigation in some cases, according to the public broadcaster.
To double check Ernst & Young's findings, then Chancellor Igor Tičar commissioned a forensic audit, but before he could present its findings to the university's board, he had to retire.
"In line with the law, my contract terminated as of 2018, and I've had no information about what is going on ever since," he explained.
The audits were then shelved until they have recently been sent to some e-mail addresses, according to TV Slovenija.
Opposition Democrat (SDS) MP Anže Logar, who chairs the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Public Finances, said he had alerted the Education Ministry, Court of Audit and police about the case and "now I'm waiting for their answers".
Education Ministry State Secretary Jernej Štromajer said one should get to the bottom of the case to make sure public universities spend funds transparently.
When Chancellor Zdravko Kačič, who was in charge of finances at the university at the time, commented the allegations of irregularities the last time in June, he disputed Tičar and the auditors' views.
"We've decided to do another ... audit and we've asked the Institute for Business Accounting ... to give its opinion," he said.
Kačič was now unavailable for comment for TV Slovenija, which reported that the case would be discussed by the university's board later this month.
The case is also being processed by the Court of Audit and investigated by law enforcement.
TV Slovenija said the Education Ministry was waiting for a report from the university, which it should get by the end of September, before it took action.
STA, 3 September 2019 - Some 25,000 teachers teach at Slovenia's primary and secondary schools, many of whom are complaining about excessive paperwork and low trust. Nevertheless, international surveys do not necessarily always corroborate their claims about being overburdened due to time-consuming paperwork.
Nearly 18,360 teachers taught at primary schools and almost another 6,090 in secondary schools in the 2018/19 school year.
There is no lack of teachers in general, but head teachers can have a hard time hiring staff teaching IT and foreign languages, form teachers and special needs teachers.
Primary school teacher Janja Čolić says the public usually assumes a teacher's day at work ends with the last lesson in the classroom, which is far from truth.
"Planning a short lesson and filling in all related forms can take more time than the very lesson in the classroom," the head of the IATEFL Slovenia association of English language teachers, has told the STA.
She explains that apart from teaching, they have many other tasks to do, such as write reports, be on duty, take part in various projects, or accompany students at camps.
Čolić agrees there is a lot of bureaucracy: "We've tuned into administrative staff."
Former teacher Pavlina Ošlak says the problem are the many reports teachers have to write, when it is sometimes not even clear what exactly they should write.
She is convinced many reports are written for the sake of being written, and doubts head teachers really have to time to read all of them.
Čolić adds it should be reconsidered what really improves the quality of teaching and what is a mere formality.
A 2018 survey by the OECD, however, showed that Slovenian teachers use 8% of a lesson for various administrative tasks, which is in line with the OECD average.
But the Teaching and Learning International Survey also showed they use 50 minutes more a week than the OECD average for administrative tasks in general, that is also outside a single lesson.
Teachers have also been complaining about a lack of autonomy, which they see in excessive interference on the part of parents.
For instance, they have to explain the reasons for a certain teaching method, a low grade, or a disciplinary sanction, says Boris Zupančič, a former Education Ministry employee.
This often leads to lengthy procedures in which a teacher has to defend their decision, instead of being trusted that they have acted to the benefit of the student, he says.
Zupančič thus urges doing more to trust teachers. He believes a national document should be adopted expressing trust in the teachers' expertise and competences.
All our stories on education in Slovenia are here
STA, 2 September 2019 - Among the many primary and secondary schools children can go to in Slovenia, there are also several international schools, which are mostly intended for foreigners. Interest in them has been growing, also among Slovenian children, so this year they will have 600 students.
There are three private international schools: the British International School of Ljubljana, the American QSI International School and France's Ecole Francaise Ljubljana.
They teach curricula from the countries of their origin, at the same time offering curricula taught within the global network of international schools.
The three schools had some 400 students in the 2018/19 school year, according to data provided by the British school.
But there are also several Slovenian public schools offering internationally-compatible courses.
One of them is Danila Kumar Primary School in Ljubljana, which has launched an international department upon the initiative from foreign diplomats and business executives.
Since its first year, 2007/2008, the number of its students has grown from 50 to around 200.
"The figure changes since children get enrolled and leave throughout the year. They are 3 to 15 years old," says Irena Šteblaj, head of the primary school's international department.
She has told the STA they generally accept foreign citizens, while Slovenian students are admitted if they have already studied abroad and intend to go abroad again.
Our Danila Kumar International School usually has children of 36 to 40 different nationalities, says Šteblaj.
She admits some may have problems when they continue schooling at secondary school because of a language barrier.
"Although they study Slovenian two hours a week here, they don't learn it as well as if they went to a Slovenian school."
Three Slovenian secondary schools also offer an international school-leaving exam - known in Slovenian as "matura".
These are Gimnazija Bežigrad in Ljubljana and II. Gimnazija in Maribor, and since last year also Gimnazija in Kranj.
In Maribor, the two-year programme which prepares students in the last two years for the matura exam has been available since 1990.
To qualify for such such a programme, students must have good grades, an average of at least 4 on Slovenia's 1-to-5 scale.
"Classes are held in English, but students also have to attend lessons in their own mother tongue," says II. Gimnazija Maribor headteacher Ivan Lorenčič.
This year 22 Slovenian and 10 foreign students passed the international matura exam at this secondary school.
If they pass the exam, they can continue their studies at any university in Slovenia or abroad.
"But the majority, as many as 60-70%, decide to go abroad, to study mostly science such as chemistry, microbiology, biology and similar," says Lorenčič.
He is proud to say that the students passing the international mature exam at Slovenian secondary schools are at the top of more than 1,300 such schools worldwide.
"This is a result of hard work," he believes.
Meanwhile, a school for children whose parents work for EU institutions was launched in Ljubljana last school year.
In the first year, ten children were enrolled in grades 1 and 2 at the Ljubljana European School, which was founded by the government.
Children can choose between a programme taught in English or Slovenian, which according to headmaster Darinka Cankar depends on the dominant language spoken in their families.
Children also have the option of their mother tongue classes, which means that in 2019/20 the school will also teach French, German, Spanish and Lithuanian.
Forty-six children will attend it this year, the majority of whom are foreign citizens.
All out stories on education in Slovenia are here
The summer holidays are almost over, and next week children will be going back to school in Slovenia, with some feeling relieved, others tentative and afraid of the new, much like their parents.
To put things in some context we visited the excellent Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SURS), to get the numbers on schoolchildren in Slovenia. Note that, unless otherwise stated, all figures are for the 2018/19 academic year.
Last year 21,945 children entered the first grade of primary school, with this generally happening when the child is 6 years old, although in September 2018 10% of new pupils were aged 7, a significant rise from the 6% seen five years before. Just under a fifth (19.8%) of such 7-year olds have special needs, and most of the others were born in November or December, and thus would have been among the youngest in their classes if joining aged 6.
In total, 186,328 children were enrolled in elementary schools in Slovenia in 2018/19, a rise of around 5,000 on the year before, and up significantly from 2010/11, when just 161,046 children where in such classes.
The average elementary school class had 19 pupils in 2018/19, with the lowest average number found in the Koroška statistical region (16) and the highest in the Osrednjeslovenska statistical region (21.5).
Slovenia's changing population mix, 1971 to 2061. Children born 10-15 years ago are part of a smaller cohort than those born more recently. For example, in 2018/19 there were 22,000 first graders (starting age of 6) compared to 17,751 ninth-graders (starting age 15). However, birth rates have been declining again, and in coming years the size of first grade classes will start shrinking. More details on demographics in Slovenia here
The number of children entering upper secondary school pupils has been falling, with the 73,110 pupils attending in 2018/19 being some 5,000 fewer than five years before, although SURS expects this trend to reverse next week as a large cohort of 15-year-olds will enter the system. Most first-year students were taking the classes for the first time, with just over 4% needing to repeat the year or having changed their study programmes.
General programmes saw 35% of all upper secondary school pupils in Slovenia in 2018/19, 61% of these girls. In contrast, 46.2% of all pupils were enrolled in technical programme, and 47% of these were girls, while and 18% of all pupils were in vocational education (30% of them girls). Over the last 8 years the share or students going to vocational and technical schools has increased by 5%
Seventy-four percent of male pupils are in technical and vocational schools, especially in technical fields (39% of all male pupils) and computing (11%). In contrast,, 56% of female pupils are in technical and vocational programmes, with the focuses being personal services (13% of all female pupils), health (12%) and business and administration (10%).
The following video, produced in 2017 and published by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (Ministrstvo za izobraževanje, znanost in šport) introduces the education system in Slovenia, from pre-school to university.
STA, 15 July 2019 - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, vetoed on Monday legislative changes that cut state funding for private primary schools, arguing the cut was in opposition to the Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools.
The veto could spell trouble for the controversial changes, adopted last week in a 42:36 vote after a tug-of-war over the interpretation and enforcement of a 2014 top court ruling.
For the lower chamber to override veto, the changes would require absolute majority, meaning 46 MPs. The repeat vote is expected to be held on Thursday, but Gregor Perič of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the coalition party that abstained from voting last week, already confirmed today the SMC would not change its mind and could not support the bill.
He said the SMC was not afraid of its decision having political consequences, arguing the party had played with open cards all along.
The councillors who filed the veto proposal argued the changes mean a cut in funds and run contrary to the December 2014 decision of the Constitutional Court that ordered full state funding for publicly approved curricula.
The opponents of the changes claim the legislator introduced an unfair distinction between publicly approved curricula and those that obtained public certification, the latter applying for private schools.
The changes introduce full state funding for the segment of private schools curricula corresponding with the public curricula, but completely scrap state funding for additional programmes, which continue to be covered for public schools.
Until now, private schools got 85% of the total state funding received by public schools. Opponents of the changes say that the cut also affects programmes that are part of compulsory primary education, which runs against public interest.
Education Minister Jernej Pikalo defended the changes today, arguing they were in line with the Constitutional Court ruling.
He said international documents also clearly stated that while the state should enable parents to raise their children in line with their world view, the state was not obliged to fund this.
A special commission of the National Council met ahead of today's vote to reject the veto proposal 6:1, with its chair Branimir Štrukelj arguing that private education caused segregation.
National Council president Alojz Kovšca disagreed, saying this was a political and ideological issue, while some councillors argued there are regions in Slovenia where parents do not have the option to send their child to a private school at all.
The opposition right-leaning parties rejected the changes last week. While the Left backed the coalition to help pass them, the SMC abstained from voting.
All our stories in education are here
STA, 11 July 2019 - Although there are no courses and exams at Slovenian universities during the summer break, several faculties organise a number of activities, with summer schools for students from around the globe becoming increasingly popular.
It is the summer schools organised by the University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Economics and Faculty of Arts that have the longest tradition and attract many students.
The Faculty of Economics launched the 20th Ljubljana Summer School this week, termed Take the Best from East and West.
Interest in it growing, so over 400 students from more than 90 higher education establishments from almost 40 countries are attending.
While the first summer school in 2000 featured 35 students from five countries, the faculty has hosted more than 4,000 students since then.
This year's three-week programme features 30 internationally acclaimed lecturers teaching 25 courses.
The faculty says its summer school is one of the largest summer schools of business and economics in Europe.
Courses, held in English, are also open to Slovenian students and all those who wish to improve their knowledge of various aspects of economics.
While one segment offers graduate and post-graduate courses in business, economic and business law, and business English, the other one focuses on Slovenian culture.
Apart from getting an unforgettable experience, students take an exam at the end of the summer school to get additional credit points they can use at their faculties.
Having just completed the the Faculty of Social Sciences' summer school, Angelika Lomat, a Belarus studying in Poland, says it was an exceptional experience.
The 4th Academia Aestiva Internationalis, which was attended by 20 students from eleven countries, was her first summer school "an experience I'd like to repeat".
"It was an incredible opportunity to meet experts from different areas and share your own experience with students from other countries," she has told the STA.
The Faculty of Arts, or its Centre for Slovenian as a Second and Foreign Language, has organised the Slovenian language summer school for the 38th year running.
More than 100 foreigners from 32 countries could choose a two- or a four-week Slovenian language course to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills.
The faculty's department of Slavic studies meanwhile organised the 55th seminar of Slovenian language, literature and culture.
Since the century of the University of Ljubljana and of Prekmurje's reunification with Slovenia is observed in 2019, the seminar's focus is on 1919 as reflected in the language and culture.
The seminar has brought together students, university teachers, Slavic studies experts, translators and other scholars from 26 countries.
Slovenian language courses are also organised at the University of Primorska, which is based in the coastal town of Koper.
Its Faculty of Humanities has organised the 26th summer course of Slovenian language dubbed Hallo, Slovenia's Mediterranean Calling!, offering not only language studies and an insight into Slovenian culture but also two relaxed weeks at the seaside.