EDUCATION IN SLOVENIA
University of Ljubljana
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Public educational system, encompassing all levels of education from preschool to adult education, is predominantly financed by the state, which is also responsible for planning and development of each field. Private education was not allowed until 1990, but several private schools at all levels (mostly higher educational institutions) have been established since. The few private elementary schools in existence are financed by the state: 85 percent of funding comes from the state budget.
Compulsory elementary education lasts nine years, beginning at age six and ending at age 15. Language of instruction is Slovene, but along the Italian or Hungarian border the language of instruction is also Italian or Hungarian. Students of other minorities have additional help with learning Slovene language in school, and special arrangement is in place for the Roma children. Elementary schools are organized into three cycles: grades 1 to 3, grades 4 to 6 and grades 7 to 9.
Curriculum is centralized for the entire state and varies by grade as well as the length of school day. Slovene students begin learning foreign languages early: the first in the second grade and the second one is added to the curriculum in the fifth grade. Most students with special needs have been mainstreamed.
The school year lasts 190 days, beginning in September, and ending in late June. The school year is broken by short vacations in the Fall (one week), Christmas /New year (one week), semester break in January or early February (two weeks) and the last week in April (one week). Public elementary schools, attended by majority of children are free, but parents do pay for textbooks and sometimes also for other expenses, e.g., field trips. Home schooling is also an option for parents. All students have health insurance which includes the irregular medical and dental exams. Schools must provide meals for students, which are subsidized for those from socially and economically deprived families.
Children of foreign nationals residing in Slovenia are also entitled to compulsory primary school education. Enrollment in the international elementary school program, intended for students of foreign nationals under the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) system, is available. International schools in Slovenia include the British International School of Ljubljana, Danila Kumar International School, QSI: Quality Schools International, and the French School of Ljubljana.
Following the completion of elementary school, students enroll in secondary schools: 40 percent in general, college preparatory four-year gymnasia (gimnazija) with emphasis on humanities, 40 percent into technically oriented four-year gymnasia and20 percent into two- or three-years vocational schools.
“Gimnazije” high schools offer students (aged 15-18) four years of general education aimed at upgrading and extending the knowledge gained during the elementary education. Upon the completion of gimnazija students take a high-school leaving exam, called “matura”, which in general, college preparatory high schools (gimnazije) includes 3 compulsory subjects (math, native language and a foreign language)and two elective subjects. This exam allows students to enroll in universities, which mostly do not have entrance exams. There is also a vocational matura- a high school diploma for technically oriented high schools, which does not allow entrance to universities.
Technically oriented four-year high schools are specialized in educating students for various occupations, e.g. chemical, electrical or engineering technicians, nurses, and secretaries. The dual system (general and vocational)of secondary education allows students to change schools through a system of shorter additional programs and external exams (matura). An international baccalaureate program is offered under the aegis of the IBO by Gimnazija Bežigrad, Ljubljana and II. Gimnazija Maribor, where English is the language of instruction. Citizens from other EU nations have the right to receive upper-secondary education under the same conditions as Slovenian citizens. The QSI: Quality Schools International organizes SAT testing four times a year.
In Slovenia, there are several types of higher education institutions, namely universities, faculties (departments), art academies and independent higher education institutions. Today, there are four universities (University of Ljubljana, University of Maribor, University of Primorska and University of Nova Gorica), an independent institution of higher education (Faculty of information studies Novo mesto), on International Association of Universities (EMUNI-EURO Mediterranean University) and 44 private higher education institutions in Slovenia (as of June 2015).In 1999, Slovenia signed the Bologna declaration, a blueprint for the reform of the higher education in European Union. One of the reform goals was to enable greater mobility of students in EU member states. By the school year 2010-11, all institutions of higher education in Slovenia were reorganized to align with the Bologna declaration. This means that the four or five years of undergraduate studies and graduate master’s and doctoral studies were replaced by study programs, organized in three cycles.
Higher education attainment and student’s performance are measured in ECTS (the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits. First cycle qualification (Bachelor): Bachelor programs generally require three to four years of study. The credit requirement is180 to 240 ECTS credits. Second cycle qualification (Master): Master programs generally require one to two years of study. The credit requirement for Master programs is 60 to 120 ECTS credits. Third cycle qualification (PhD): Additional 180 ECTS credits are required to receive PhD title and require about three years of study.
There is no tuition for undergraduate and master’s study (the first and second cycle) at the universities. The government funds full-time students while institutions of higher education charge tuition to part-time students. Students with limited financial resources are eligible to apply for government scholarships. Employer scholarships to support the attainment of qualification for specific occupations are also available. Talented students are eligible to apply for Zois scholarships.
Slovenia also provides scholarships to Slovenian national minorities in neighboring countries and Slovenians abroad and also to citizens of countries that have signed bilateral or multi-lateral agreements on educational cooperation based on reciprocity.
The government provides subsidies for accommodation to short-cycle higher education and higher education students. Short-cycle higher education and higher education students are, under the specified conditions, also entitled to subsidized meals, transportation subsidies and other rights and benefits in accordance with special regulations, unless they are employed or registered as job seekers.