STA, 16 April 2021 - Final-year secondary school pupils will have a chance to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as early as next Friday ahead of the school-leaving examinations due to begin in May under an upgraded national vaccination strategy adopted by the government on Thursday.
The upgraded strategy, presented by Health Ministry official Vesna Kerstin Petrič at Friday's press briefing, placed matura students and staff involved in the examinations that has not yet been vaccinated among priority groups, along with over 60-year-olds and people with chronic conditions.
Kerstin Petrič said that parents of particularly vulnerable chronically ill children have also been listed among the priority groups in the latest change to Slovenia's vaccination strategy.
"We want the pupils to prepare for the maturity examination in the most relaxed way possible and that they sit for it in a safe environment," she said in explaining the rationale behind the latest change in strategy, although she admitted it came a bit late.
Noting that vaccination is voluntary, the official urged pupils wishing to get a jab to apply today or by noon on Monday at the vaccination centre of the community health care of their permanent residence.
Pupils aged 18 and over will be inoculated with the AstraZeneca jab and those under 18 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
About 17,000 final-year secondary school pupils are to sit for the matura examinations, which are due to start with a Slovenian essay on 4 May. There have been some indications the test might be postponed, but Kerstin Petrič said she was not in a position to speak about the examinations.
Mateja Logar, the head of the Covid-19 advisory team, confirmed for TV Slovenija yesterday the group had proposed moving the essay exam to the end of May to allow pupils to develop immunity against Covid-19 after vaccination. However, the Education Ministry said matura would proceed as planned.
Bojana Beović, the head of the national advisory committee on immunisation, said the body had not been acquainted with the idea to vaccinate matura students and that it was a political decision.
STA, 11 February 2021 - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said on Thursday the minimum hourly pay for student work would be raised to EUR 5.89 gross this week. Thus he responded to criticism from the opposition Left and the Student Organisation that student pay had not been adjusted to the minimum wage raise.
Cigler Kralj said on Twitter that as soon as the minimum wage was raised (to EUR 1,024 gross) efforts had started to set the new minimum hourly pay for student work as well.
The Left noted today that the minimum hourly pay for student work had risen from EUR 4.89 to EUR 5.40 gross at the beginning of last year. Under the law, the minister is to change the minimum pay if the minimum wage changes, it said.
Based on the minimum wage raise, the minimum hourly pay for students should rise to EUR 5.89, the party noted.
The same call was made by the Student Organisation.
STA, 6 February 2021 - The government has cleared the plan of enrolment in university programmes for the next academic year after increasing the number of available posts for students of medicine and computer science, and raising the number of posts set aside for non-EU students.
The overall number of posts for first-year university programmes at four public and ten private universities is 18,520, down 120 compared to the original proposal. There are 43 more posts for full-time students and 154 fewer for part-time students, the government said on Friday evening.
A total of 2,365 posts are available to Slovenians without Slovenian citizenship and students from non-EU countries, up 88 from the year before.
The increase is "a result of activities that higher education institutions have invested in recent years into internationalisation and increased cooperation with foreign markets," the government said.
After consultation with individual faculties, the number of posts at the Ljubljana Faulty of Computer and Information Science increased by 50 across all study courses.
Enrolment at both medical schools, at the University of Ljubljana and University of Maribor, will increase by 50 to 271. The Education Ministry ill secure extra funding for all faculties where enrolment will increase, the government said.
It was not immediately clear from government materials which courses were scaled down.
The decision comes after the government refrained from clearing the plan, which had been finalised in talks between higher education institutions and the Education Ministry.
The decision was met with resistance from education stakeholders, but the government said it was necessary to conduct a strategic deliberation on what Slovenia's labour market truly needs.
The government held a consultation with university representatives on Thursday evening and lack of medical students, in particular due to low admission numbers, was highlighted as a particular problem.
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.
STA, 31 January 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has wondered in a Facebook post whether Slovenia will have a competitive edge in the fourth industrial revolution compared to countries where there are twice as many people studying science and technology than humanities, whereas in Slovenia the share of the former is 37% and 39% of the latter.
This comes days after the government was expected to approve public universities' enrolment plans for next year. The proposal, sent to the government for approval by the Education Ministry, is to be discussed by the cabinet this week, Janša said on Friday.
Laying down the number of positions in public schools and faculties is one of the most important strategic decisions in any country, the prime minister said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
STRATEŠKE ODLOČITVE O NAŠI PRIHODNOSTI Sprejemamo slovenske in evropske resolucije o inovativnosti, umetni inteligenci,...Posted by Janez Janša on Sunday, 31 January 2021
A bad decision may lead to the creation of thousands of youths without employment prospects, he said, adding that the government would pay the matter all due attention.
Pointing to numerous Slovenian and EU resolutions on innovation, AI and digitalisation, he said "we are saying that only innovation and new technologies can protect us from the effects of global warming. At the same time, we are planning enrolment in our public schools and faculties, determining the knowledge our children will have in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years":
"With a student structure of 39% in social sciences, humanities and arts compared to 37% in natural sciences, technology and IT, will Slovenia hold any competitive edge at all in the fourth industrial revolution compared against countries where this share is 1 to 2?" Janša wonders.
Plans also must take into account professional dynamics in real life, he said. "A good engineer or a doctor may become a good manager in the course of their professional career. But it is very rare that a good economics major, a philosopher or jurist becomes a good engineer or doctor in the course of their career."
The country needs knowledge both in humanities and technology. But the shares of the different professional profiles are determined by the demands of a specific time period, the needs of the business sector and public services, as well as other factors such as demographics and ecology, Janša said.
It is impossible to say exactly how many experts in which field will be needed in 5 or 20 years, but it is possible to see very clearly what highly-developed countries are doing, he said. It is also very clear what professionals have the hardest time finding work.
"Additional enrolment of a large number of unemployables despite possibilities to make realistic assessments verges on social madness," said Janša.
STA, 1 October 2020 - Students are returning to faculties for in-person lectures as the new academic year starts on 1 October against the backdrop of strict anti-coronavirus measures. While professors are happy to see students back in lecture halls, they are utterly unhappy with having to wear face masks while teaching.
Under the national guidelines, drafted by education and health authorities, the winter term will be held at faculties if all safety recommendations can be observed.
The guidelines also recommend a "hybrid model" - a mix of live and distance learning, while distance learning is recommended only for exceptional cases.
However, just a few days after the guidelines were adopted, the government has ordered compulsory face mask wearing in all indoor public places.
The new rule also applies to students and teachers regardless of whether they keep the recommended safety distance of 1.5 metres.
"Professors are outraged, they are convinced they cannot teach for several hours with a face mask," University of Ljubljana Chancellor Igor Papič has told the STA.
He recalled the original guidelines under which students could take the mask off in lecture halls if they kept a safe distance, so he believes this will affect the quality of the teaching process.
Universities have brought the issue to the attention of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, urging it to allow plexiglas barriers instead of masks.
But Minister Simona Kustec, although noting very different circumstances from previous years, is convinced students will get quality teaching.
"Foremost, we have to bear in mind the care for the health of students and of all staff in higher education," she was quoted in her ministry's release.
Until yesterday, some 60,600 students enrolled, of whom 13,400 freshers, but the exact number of students in this academic year will be known in mid-November.
The three public and three smaller private universities as well as over 40 mostly private higher education establishments with a concession have made over 46,400 posts available for first-year regular students (tuition fee is paid from public funds) and paying students.
The bulk of new posts - over 9,000 - were available at the University of Ljubljana, the country's largest and oldest, which in 2019 had a total of over 37,000 students.
The coronavirus situation will also affect this year's generation of freshers, who will be left without welcome parties traditionally organised by the universities and student organisations at the start of the academic year.
Still, faculties will welcome them at special receptions on the premises, while they will also receive key information at lectures in the first week of studies.
The pandemic has also slashed Erasmus+ student exchange programmes, as many students are cancelling or postponing their studies abroad to the summer term or the next academic year.
Slovenia's Centre for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS) expects the figure to halve.
The figures for the winter term are even worse - while almost 1,140 students opted for student exchange the previous winter term, the figure plummeted to 396 now.
Some have nevertheless decided on distance student exchange but since they will stay in Slovenia they will not be entitled to CMEPIUS funding.
An aggravating circumstance is definitely the prospect of quarantine: students are not allowed to quarantine at student dormitories.
Some Slovenian institutions as well as their partner institutions abroad have thus decided to cancel student exchanges for the winter semester altogether.
The Ljubljana University told the STA it expects some 600 foreign students at present, considerably below the around 2,100 figure from recent years.
According to a Statistical Office report, there were 75,991 students enrolled in tertiary education in 2018/19. This is 0.7% less than the year before and the ninth consecutive year in a row that saw a decline in number of students enrolled in higher education. Currently 34.2% fewer students are enrolled in higher education than ten years ago, when there were 115,445 college and university students studying in Slovenia.
While number of students enrolled in the 1st and 2nd Bologna cycles (Bachelors and Masters Programmes) is on decline, the number of doctoral students seems to be rising. Compared to the previous academic year, the number of enrolled students in the 3rd Bologna cycle rose from 2,824 to 3,089, or by 9.4%.
As for field of study, the largest group of students in the 2018/19 academic year were in study programs of engineering, manufacturing and construction (13,974 or 18.4%), followed by business, administration and law (13,784 or 18.1%), and health and social security (10,224 or 13.5 %). In contrast, the fewest students were enrolled in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary medicine (2,320 or 3.1%) and information and communication technologies (3,842 or 5.1%).
For more information on this data, please click here.
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