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.
Two law students from the University of Ljubljana, Katja Grünfeld and Iva Ramuš Cvetkovič, beat more than 100 teams from around the world in the Manfred Lachs Moot Court competition in Washington, DC. In this they put their knowledge of space law and international public law. into practice in order to win a lawsuit on behalf of a hypothetical state for the unlawful appropriation of a lunar base.
The teams put their cases before judges from the International Court of Justice in the championship, which was held between 21 and 25 October as part of the 70th International Astronautical Congress. The team from Slovenia – which consisted of Katja Grünfeld and Iva Ramuš Cvetkovič, Rok Kljajič as coach, and Vasilka Sancin as mentor – had already won the European heats, beating a team from the University of Vienna in the final.
The Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court is a competition in space law and international public law organised by the International Institute of Space Law and the European Centre for Space Law. The finals in Washington were in the form of simulated proceedings before the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and with both a written part and a live hearing.
Each team prepared two written memorandums, one for the plaintiff and one for the defendant. In these they presented legal arguments and facts supporting the individual claims addressed to the International Court of Justice in connection with a hypothetical case.
The second-placed team, winners of the African heat, was from the International Law Students Association (ILSA) of the University of Calabar, Nigeria, which included Ebruka Nelly-Helen Neji and Ushie Augustine Eneji.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 25 October
STA, 25 October 2019 - Mladina, the lef-leaning weekly, is critical in its commentary on Friday of MPs and their disparaging comments about students as they were debating a rise in hourly wage for student work. Criticising students, while failing to make it easier for them to afford going to university, shows that MPs have no clue about the social reality of the country.
The weekly praises the coalition for increasing hourly wages for student work to EUR 4.56 nett, albeit by less than initially planned.
However, the discourse during the plenary debate was barely acceptable. If they had been talking about women, it would be chauvinism, if it were foreigners, it would be racism, Mladina editor-on-chief Grega Repovž says under the headline Students? A Pest?
MPs do simply not understand what a child, or two, at university means for an average Slovenian family. It calculates that two children studying in Ljubljana cost about EUR 1,000 a month, which is a lot of money even for a middle-class family.
Students work and they have expenses besides just housing and food. This is 2019 and there is nothing wrong with the notion that student life should not be complete misery.
Many MPs likely had to sacrifice a lot and work hard manual jobs in exchange for poor pay, while they were studying. "But this society has advanced, GDP has grown to EUR 22,000, and the standard of living has increased for students, just like for everybody else."
Most students do not work 170 hours a month, most work between 60 and 70 hours a month and make about EUR 300. Saying they represent unfair competition is obscene.
They are hired because they are more flexible, they can work weekends, when most full-time employees need to get childcare. What is more, students do not get paid extra for working weekends, nights and holidays, like full-time employees.
While a family with average income can barely afford to send two children to university, those leasing apartments to students in Ljubljana will on average make an additional EUR 2,400 in the coming year as a result of growing rents, the weekly says.
Of course, these rents are off the books so that flat owners can avoid paying tax. While MPs were not short on words in their criticism of students, did they take any measures against Airbnb to reign in the growth of rents?
"How many student dorms will be built next year? Hasn't the coalition given up on a property tax? Didn't the coalition just now lower tax on labour, especially for those with highest pay?"
STA, 21 October 2019 – Reporter, the right-leaning weekly, takes the opportunity of the controversial hiring of an acquaintance of PM Marjan Šarec in SOVA (Slovenska obveščevalno-varnostna agencija) to say in its latest commentary that the national intelligence and security agency should be rebuilt from scratch as it has been completely discredited by politicians.
"SOVA should be demolished to the ground and then built anew," Silvester Šurla, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly says under the headline From a Target to Death.
Politicians who have been in power in the last three decades have completely "plucked and discredited this mysterious bird", he adds in reference to SOVA meaning an owl in Slovenian.
The secret service which should protect the interests of the state has been the grounds for political battles, with SOVA being hit by scandals under every government. Its agents have even been on strike and the agency has become a "caricature of itself, a disgrace for the country."
Each government has been employing their people in the agency following the party affiliation or family lines, with the first public call for applications being published only this year. "A bunch of rotten eggs have ended up in SOVA's nest."
In this "spy brothel", there are few innocent politicians who would be without a sin, and the battle for SOVA, for who will use it and (probably) abuse it for their political goals, is actually a battle for power.
"Politicians who should act from the position of statesmen towards SOVA, they engage in politicking. And then everybody are surprised by intelligence information produced by SOVA having practically no applicable value."
All our posts in this series are here
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 - 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.
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, 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.
STA, 14 December 2018 - The Council of Europe and UNESCO are urging against violence towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individuals at schools in their latest report, which shows that in Slovenia 43% of young people were subject to this type of violence in 2014.
This can be psychological, physical or sexual violence that happens on school grounds and also on-line. Its most frequent forms are verbal violence and harassment, the CoE says in the report.
Such violence targeting members of the LGBTI community was detected in all CoE countries, most notably in Turkey (67%) and Belgium (47%).
In the section on the situation in Slovenia, the report refers to a 2013 research carried out by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency.
The survey showed that 59% of the 636 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons "always" or "frequently" heard negative remarks about their classmates' sexual orientation or sexual identity and 30% of them are "always" or "frequently" the targets of such remarks themselves.
All our stories tagged LGBT can be found here
The report also refers to the 2014 survey in which 42.8% of respondents aged between 15 and 30 years reported of at least one experience of a homophobic attack during their education.
Slovenia is among the 32 CoE members that have explicitly banned discrimination based on sexual orientation at schools and is one of the 24 CoE countries that have explicitly banned discrimination based on sexual identity in education.
In 2016, the Slovenian anti-discrimination legislation expanded the list of the types of discrimination banned to discrimination based on sexual identity, while discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned by the Constitution.
The report released on Thursday is based on responses of public sector employees from 35 CoE member states.
The full report, in PDF form, can be read here
STA, 14 December 2018 - Slovenian higher education students are one year younger than the average in the EU as they mostly decide to go to university immediately after the secondary school, which is not characteristic of other European countries, according to a survey carried out in all 28 EU member states.
The key points of the Eurostudent VI (2016-2018) survey were presented on Friday by Alenka Gril of the Educational Research Institute.
In the 2015/2016 academic year in Slovenia, a total of 77,354 were enrolled in tertiary education, of which 4,968 or 6.4% participated in the survey.
Their average age was 24.1, which is around a year below the average for students in all other EU member states, which stands at 25. There were more female students than male students in Slovenia, added Gril.
The share of part-time students in Slovenia is 13%, which is one of the highest shares in the EU. A majority of these students do not have a tertiary education background in their families.
"These students are mostly facing financial troubles and come from poorer families," she said, adding that they frequently had to work while studying.
Most Slovenian students also have jobs
The survey carried out by the Ministry of Education, the public institute CMEPIUS and the Slovenian Student Organisation (ŠOS) also shows that most of Slovenian students work during the academic year.
"Almost three-fifths work for the entire week during the academic year and are thus one of the most overburdened students in Europe, as they work and study for 51 hours a week on average," said Gril.
They work 14 hours a week on average, and only in six European countries students work more (15 hours) - Iceland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Also facing major financial troubles are students with long-term medical conditions, which represent a 5% share in total student population. Half of them believe that they are not provided sufficient support for studying.
Almost half of Slovenian students live with their parents or relatives (48%), while 19% live in dormitories or rented rooms.
On the occasion, the ŠOS pointed out that students face average monthly costs of EUR 500, while the state scholarship amounts to EUR 125, with only a fifth of students receiving it.
"As the survey showed, students are too much dependent on their own work and family. This means it is too difficult to get independent," ŠOS president Jaka Trilar said in a press statement.
The organisation has also detected a shortage of student dormitories, in particular in the western region of Primorska, but also in Ljubljana.
"The state has obviously failed to detect that bigger generations are coming," said Trilar, also noting that international student exchange programmes were mostly being attended by richer students.
It should be regulated at the EU level that more scholarships for mobility go to students from poorer families, he added.