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New 10-Year Plan Aiming to Diversify Higher Education

Ljubljana, 08 September (STA) - The Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology has put forward a higher education programme for 2011-2020 whose main goals are to diversify, internationalise, improve the quality and accessibility of education.

Presenting the document to the press on Wednesday, Minister Gregor Golobic highlighted plans for a two-tier higher education that would enable the creation of independent polytechinics.

He believes this would satisfy regional needs for higher education centres. Polytechinics would teach technical sciences, while universities would remain in charge of university programmes and doctoral studies.

A new financing regime would bring in a lot of funds, about EUR 900m in additional money until 2020, that would enable higher education regardless of social standing. The first two levels (Bachelor's and Master's Degree) will remain free of charge, provided reasonable duration.

Ministry adviser Janja Komljenovic emphasised greater autonomy. Education institutions are to gain more influence on the choice of students, especially at the second and third levels, as well as more freedom in staffing policy and greater flexibility would enable easier hiring of quality staff.

According to the adviser, one of the aims is that a fifth of the students would become internationally mobile and a fifth of the programmes would be carried out in cooperation with foreign higher education centres.

The new, 10-year plan replaces 5-year plans, because the authors believe that five years is too short a period for substantial changes. The plan's implementation will be checked in parliament every two years.

A public consultation period for the document will run until 20 October. Minister Golobic expects a heated debate but is intent on fighting against "the comfortable status quo".

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