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The Slovak Republic Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in the Slovak Republic
Admissions to Higher Education in the Slovak Republic
Types of Higher Education Institutions in the Slovak Republic
Cycles of Higher Education in the Slovak Republic
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions

As at 1st January 2011, there were 20 public higher education institutions, three state-owned higher education institutions, twelve private higher education institutions, and four foreign higher education institutions functioning in the Slovak Republic.

The public higher education institutions are funded especially by the subsidies provided from the Chapter of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the SR on the basis of a contract but they have also additional revenues, such as tuition fees and payments connected with the study, entrepreneurial activities, property revenues, provision of continuous education, and the like. The public higher education institutions are autonomous and self-governing and managed by self-governing bodies according to internal rules of the higher education institutions.

The state-owned higher education institutions are police, military and healthcare institutions. Police higher education institutions fall within the competence of the ministry of the interior and prepare their graduates especially for the needs of the Police Corps and security services. Military higher education institutions fall within the competence of the ministry of defence and prepare their graduates especially for the needs of armed forces, since the academic year 2012/2013 renewing the studies for civilians. Healthcare higher education institutions prepare especially the graduates who will perform health professions. The state-owned higher education institutions compared to the public ones have some rights limited to a diverse scope, at individual types of the state higher education institutions. For example, some state-owned higher education institutions are not autonomous at defining number of admitted applicants, preparing study programmes, and at creating organisation structure and are subject of agreement of the corresponding ministry. The state-owned higher education institutions are linked by their budget to the State budget as a contributory or budgetary organisation of the respective Chapter. The fields of study offered by the state-owned higher education institutions are not exclusively designed for them, the study programmes in the given fields of study may be also provided, upon fulfilling the conditions of accreditation, by public and private higher education institutions.

The private higher education institutions are non-profit-making organisations offering generally useful services or limited liable companies which were founded with the purpose of providing education and research. The State consent for operation as a private higher education institution is granted by the Government of the SR. The Accreditation Commission pronounces on the request for giving the consent. The private higher education institutions may be also granted a subsidy for its activity from the state budget but actually they receive only the funds for covering statutory claims of the students.

The foreign higher education institutions which want to operate on the territory of the SR and come from a member country of the European Union may provide education according to legislation of the State of their place of residence. In that case a majority of provisions of the higher education act do not apply to the institutions and their operation requires ministry’s authorisation. For its granting a positive statement of the authority according to the seat of the higher education institution is a must.

The Higher Education Act divides the higher education institutions into university-type and professional higher education institutions. There are also higher education institutions that do not fall under this classification. The classification of a higher education institution or its transfer is carried out on the basis of a statement of the Accreditation Commission of the SR, in case of public and State-owned higher education institutions on the basis of the act and, in case of private higher education institutions, the transfer of an institution is upon the SR Government.

In agreement with the Higher Education Act all higher education institutions provide the Bachelor study programmes. The professional higher education institutions provide the Bachelor’s study programmes only. The professional higher education institutions are oriented particularly on the applied research. In case of university higher education institutions the primary orientation is at basic research and emphasis is laid on doctoral study programmes.

The doctoral study programmes may be also provided by external educational institution. In that case the research part of the doctoral study is carried out in the external educational institution, however, the student is a student of higher education institution but some aspects of his study are decided or co-decided by the external educational institution.


First Cycle Programmes


Bachelor

Branches of Study

The first cycle study programmes – Bachelor study programmes are aimed at acquisition of theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge based on the recent state in the science or art and at management of its use in practice or in continuation in further higher education study. Bachelor study programme graduates achieve the higher education of the first level and receive academic degree of Bachelor (abbr. “Bc.”). Duration of the study is 3 – 4 years. Depending on the standard length of study it is necessary to get 180 up to 240 credits.

Higher education institution prepares for each study programme a recommended study plan. In case of the study according to the recommended study plan the student is able to complete the study programme regularly at the standard length of study.

The fields of study are divided into nine groups. The groups are subdivided into 27 subgroups composed of diverse number of study fields. On the whole, it is possible to achieve education in a field from among 365 study fields. A number of study fields may be pursued in the third cycle of higher education only.

List of the study fields:

1.Education and training
2.Humanities and art
3.Social, economic and juridical
4.Natural sciences
5.Construction, technologies, manufacture and communication
6.Agricultural and veterinary sciences
7.Healthcare
8.Services
9.Information sciences, mathematics and ICT

Admission Requirements

Every citizen has the right to study at a higher education institution in the selected branch of study programme provided he fulfils the basic admission conditions for study and further conditions specified by higher education institutions. The basic condition for the admission to Bachelor study is graduation from complete secondary education or complete secondary vocational education (the education completed by the secondary school-leaving examination).

Higher education institution can admit applicants of accredited study programme which are in the list of study programmes. According to Higher Education Act only the higher education institutions have the prerogative to provide and organize higher education and hence they are the only institutions empowered to admit students to higher education study.

The admission examinations are organised directly by a faculty, which determine by themselves the admission requirement in such a way as to admit to the study only the candidates with necessary abilities and prerequisites. The faculty or higher education institution shall announce the framework content and way of evaluation of results of admission examination. The other conditions must not go beyond the content of knowledge offered by the secondary education with school-leaving certificate in the light of the education law. The admission examination is held mostly in written form. Some schools also include oral examinations or interviews, too, for selected programmes. Their aim is to evaluate the overall prerequisites for the study programme chosen, language skills, etc. The talent or practical examination is taken by candidates of the teacher training for the first grade of primary school, or candidates of teacher training for academic subjects in combination with physical education, music education and art education, at the study programmes of sports, journalism, architecture and at all programmes of artistic orientation. The dean of faculty decides on the applicant admission in case of appeal, the rector of higher education institutions makes the final decision on the student admission. The result of admission examination is usually issued on the day of performance, eventually, on the second day. Almost all faculties, however, publicize the results on their Internet pages. A written statement on admission or non-admission is delivered to the student within 30 days.

The applicant with a health disorder is determined upon his request the form of admission examination and the way of its completion with a view to his health disability. Each higher education institution has a tutor for work with these students.

The applicant, who successfully passes the admission exams, becomes the student of higher education institution. The conditions for admission of foreigners to the study at higher education institution are the same like for the citizens of the Slovak Republic.

In case of the study programmes in the healthcare branches the admission to external forms of the study is restricted by the condition that the previous education of the applicant is from selected healthcare fields of study.

As regards the State higher education institutions the procedure may vary with respect to limitations ensuing from their status. Number of admissions is determined in some cases by the respective ministry, eventually, the preference is given to those who are in employment relationship in the given sector.

Concerning military higher education institutions the study of civil servants of the Bachelor study programmes is not possible.

Curriculum

The higher education institutions and their faculties are autonomous in the study programme creation. The legal regulations govern some basic requirements for study programmes, such as the standard student load (60 credits per academic year), limitations to the standard length of study, or division of subjects into compulsory, optional and elective. At the same time, the regular completion of the study is conditional upon the defence of a bachelor thesis.

In the different study fields there are there binding requirements to diverse measure for the study programme content. Fulfilment of curriculum requirement is a part of the accreditation process. The study field is the area of knowledge which may be a subject of higher education in some of its three cycles. The study field is defined by the content that is characterized by areas and scope of the knowledge, abilities and skills which shape the graduate’s profile.

Study programme is a set of educational activities as lecture, seminars, exercises, laboratory work, practice, diploma thesis and dissertations, projects and a set of rules compiled in such a way that the successful fulfilment of educational duties, under the above rules preserved, give possibility to achieve the higher education. A part of the study according to each study programme is a final thesis; its defence is among the State examinations.

The student pursues the study programme according to the study plan that he himself compiles. All students of the study programme must complete all compulsory subjects, the required part of compulsory optional subjects and the remaining number of credits is achieved from elective subjects.

The J. Selye University and some faculties of other higher education institutions provide higher education mostly in Hungarian language. The citizens of Hungarian nationality make up a numerous minority in the Slovak Republic.

Teaching Methods

The content and methods of teaching within the framework of individual subjects are in full competence of universities and faculties in agreement with fundamental rights and freedoms of higher education institutions.

In higher education institutions the choice of teaching methods is determined by the type of teaching and specificities required from individual subjects. Lectures, seminars, proseminars (combined form of teaching made up of lectures and seminars), exercises, courses, consultations, excursions, practice teaching, seminar papers are the main forms of teaching. In technical and science subjects it is a laboratory work. As a part of lectures, the dialogue methods are used combined with computer technology and other teaching aids.

In seminar and practical parts of teaching a use is often made of simulation methods, minimized operational facilities. At medical, health and pharmaceutical study fields the teaching includes practical teaching in specialized teaching institutions – healthcare institutions. Also, in veterinary, agricultural, forestry fields of study the teaching includes practical teaching in specialised teaching institutions. The teacher training study fields require practice directly in teaching process in primary schools or secondary schools. The determination of length of the practice teaching falls within the competence of the appropriate higher education institutions.

Higher education institutions are autonomous in selection of textbooks or educational software as well as in their development. In case that a university teacher writes a university textbook this output is partially considered at determination of a subsidy for the given higher education institution. A special system of support at development of teaching materials, or university textbooks at the central level, does not exist. In some years, development projects were supported in higher education institutions, aimed at the use e-learning modules.

Progression of Students

Each student has the right to apply for study at another faculty or higher education institution, or abroad. In higher education institutions it is possible to transfer from one branch of study to another that are set up in study rules of faculties and universities, eventually, the student may complete his study at another university than that where he initially started.

A student may enrol in one subject at most two times during his study. In case that he fails to pass the subject for the second time, he is expelled from the study. The pace of study and order of subjects are determined by the student himself. The total period of study cannot be longer though than two academic years compared to standard length of study of the given study programme.

The study order of a higher education institution and the study programme rules determine the number of credits which the students must achieve to be able to progress to the next part of study. The parts of study are usually expressed by academic years, that means, at the beginning or at the end of the academic year it is assessed if the student fulfils the conditions for continuing the studies – to be expressed as a rule by minimum number of the credits that should be achieved during the year.

Employability

At present, no special tools are applied for placement of graduates of Bachelor study programmes at the labour market. The hitherto practice and possibilities of admission to the next cycle of education cause that a prevailing part of graduates of the Bachelor study programme continue in the further higher education studies.

In some study fields, particularly those which are linked to automobile industry, there is a dialogue ongoing between automobile companies and higher education institutions resulting in modification of the Bachelor study programmes in line with the needs of placement in automobile industry. In other fields, particularly IT branch it is quite common to study on the job. Pursuit of a number of healthcare professions requires bachelor education only and these graduates have a possibility of immediate placement in practice (e.g., midwives, nurses).

In some other study programmes the higher education institutions may arrange in-company placements or internships for their students.

Students Assessment

Details on evaluation of student performances during his study are set up in study rules of universities and faculties. Procedures of evaluation of students vary.

The organisation of all levels and forms of higher education study is based on the credit system. The credit system of study enables by credits to evaluate the student’s load connected with the completion of the units of study programme in agreement with the rules contained in the study programme. The standard load is expressed by the number of credits as follows: 60 for academic year, 30 credits for semester and 20 credits for trimester.

The evaluation of the student results within the framework of the subject study is carried out, in particular, by

•continuous check up of the study results during the teaching part of the given period of study (examination questions, written tests, tasks for individual work, papers, coursework, etc.), •examination for the given period of study.

The subject completion is evaluated by a mark. A mark expresses the quality of acquisition of knowledge or skills in agreement with the aim of the subject. The result of evaluation is recorded in study book (index).

Evaluation by a mark is carried out according to the system of grading composed of six grades:

• A – excellent = 1
• B – very good = 1,5
• C – good = 2
• D – satisfactory = 2,5
• E – sufficient = 3
• FX – fail = 4

The student shall obtain credits for the subject if his/her result were assessed by any of the classification grades from A to E. For evaluation of overall study records of the student in a defined period the use is made of course weighted average. It is counted in such a way that the products of number of credits and numerical assessment in the period assessed shall be summed up and the result shall be divided by total number of credits registered by the student for the given period.

In case of healthcare study programmes the students keep books of records on clinical practice for recording individual operations they did during practicing in clinical workplace.

A condition for regular completion of studies is the State examination. In addition to the defence of a final thesis, there are also the other State examinations prescribed. The State examination is usually commissional verification of student’s knowledge and comprehension of the completed subjects in coherences.

Certification

The graduates of Bachelor’s study are issued diplomas indicating the study branches, study programmes, academic degree, identification of a higher education institution and faculty and of a graduate (name, surname, date of birth), a certificate on the state examination and Diploma Supplement. The Diploma Supplement contains detailed information on completed study and the system of higher education in the SR. The higher education institutions award the academic degree of Bachelor (Bc.) to the graduates of Bachelor’s study.

In case of academic recognition of documents on education (with the purpose of continuing the studies) the recognition of study in other higher education institution abroad falls within the competence of the higher education institution. Concerning the recognition of education from abroad for professional purposes the recognition of the document on education falls as a rule within the competence of the ministry of education. The documents issued in the SR, except for foreign higher education institutions, are valid in the SR without further recognition.


Short-Cycle Higher Education


The transformation of experimental fields to the study fields of higher professional study lead in legislation to introduction of a new kind of postsecondary study, higher professional study. In this kind of study the upper secondary vocational schools provide for the graduates with secondary education or secondary specialised education completed by school-leaving examination the higher professional education but will not provide the higher education that in the light of higher education law may be provided by higher education institution only. At the same time, it will be possible to transform the verified experimental study fields of higher professional education to the bachelor study programmes of professional higher education institutions.

Higher professional education (postsecondary or tertiary) pupil receives by successful completing:

• Two-year or three-year educational programme in secondary vocational school which is concluded by graduation examination, the certificate on achieved level of education is certificate on graduation examination and graduation diploma with the right to use title “diploma specialist” with the abbreviation “DiS".

• Coherent six-year educational programme in conservatoire which is concluded by graduation examination or by the last grade of coherent eight-year educational programme in dance conservatoire, the certificate on achieved level of education is certificate on graduation examination and graduation diploma with the right to use title “diploma artist” with the abbreviation “DiS.art.”.

The content of education is governed by the state educational program and school educational program. The state educational program is a binding document that sets out the general objectives of education and core competencies. It defines the core curriculum. It is the starting point for the development of the school educational program, which takes into account the specific conditions and needs of the region. The state educational program is published for the various stages of education by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. Creating school educational program school receives part of the responsibility for the choice of objectives and content of education.

Education includes lessons, exercises, seminars, consultations and excursions. The emphasis is on practical training in the second and third years. The practical training provide organizations with which schools have a long and good cooperation. Students can be divided into groups, in particular with regard to safety and health and hygiene requirements of generally applicable legislation.

At conservatory is organized as a part of training the internal and public theatrical, musicals, opera, dance, and ballet performances, competitions, national and international exchange of presentations and art projects.

The conservatoire provides 4-year upper secondary education completed by school-leaving examination and 5/6-year higher professional education completed by absolutorium. In the field of dance provides 8-years education completed by school-leaving examination and absolutorium.

Conservatoire prepares students for the world of work (for example teachers of basic schools of art) and also for further study at higher education institutions.


Second Cycle Programmes


Branches of Study

The study programmes of the second cycle – Magister’s, Engineer’s or Doctor’s study programmes are oriented at acquisition of theoretical and practical knowledge based on the present state of science or art and at development of ability of their creative application at pursuit of profession or at continuing higher education according the doctoral study programme.

The organization of the study is the same as that of the Bachelor study programmes. The standard length of study is from one to three academic years, which represents 60 to 180 credits for regular completion of degree course. There is a condition that the study in the first and second cycles should take the standard five years for acquisition of higher education of the second level.

Admission Requirements Basic condition for admission to the study in study programme of the second stage is a subject of completing the study programme of the first stage.

Curriculum

Higher education institutions may also offer the individual subjects in a different language than the official State language. The language used for teaching the subject is indicated on information leaflet of the particular subject.

Teaching Methods

Teaching methods are the same as in the study programme of the first level.

Progression of Students

The same rules are applied as in case of the Bachelor study programmes. Higher education institutions may also offer subjects in another language, including the compulsory subjects.

Employability

At present, there are no tools specially supported at the central market aimed at the transfer of the university graduates at the labour market. The individual higher education institutions cooperate to various degree with economic practice as indicated in case of the Bachelor study programmes. There are discussions ongoing on changes in the career guidance system, developed more or less in individual higher education institutions. Besides, there are career days organized for graduates when the students may get familiar with current demands at labour market, eventually, to exchange contacts with potential employer.

Students Assessment

Details on evaluation of student performances during his study are set up in study rules of universities and faculties.

Certification

The graduates of Master’s study are issued diplomas indicating the study branches, study programmes, academic degree, identification of higher education institution and faculty and graduate (first name, surname, date of birth), a certificate on the state examination and Diploma Supplement. Diploma Supplement includes detailed information on the study completed and on higher education system in the SR.

The Magister’s study, Engineer’s study and Doctor's study are completed by state examination before an examination commission. The state examination includes the defence of a thesis if set up by the statute of the higher education institution or the faculty. The state examination consists of 3-4 subjects. In case of failure at the state examination the student has the right to re-sit. Each part of the state examination is assessed separately. The overall evaluation of study (in dependency upon results of the overall study and results of the state examination) is evaluated in two grades "he/she passed with honours" and "he/she passed".

The higher education institutions award the following academic degrees to their graduates:

• in Magister’s study, the degree of "magister" (Mgr.); in artistic study programmes, the degree of "magister umenia" (Mgr. art.);

• in Engineer's study, the degree of "inžinier" (Ing.); the degree of "inžinier architekt" (Ing. arch.) in the study programmes of architecture and town planning;

• in Doctor's study of the study programmes of humane medicine the degree of "doktor všeobecného lekárstva" (MUDr.), "doktor zubného lekárstva" (MDDr.) in the study programmes of dentistry; and the degree of "doktor veterinárskej medicíny" (MVDr.) in the study programmes of veterinary medicine.

The graduates of Magister’s study (Mgr.) who completed the examina rigorosa a part of which is the defence of a thesis, are awarded the diploma, showing the branch of study completed and the academic degree:

• in the study programmes of natural sciences "doktor prírodných vied" (RNDr.)

• in the study programmes of pharmacy "doktor farmácie" (PharmDr.)

• in the study programmes of the humanities and art disciplines "doktor filozofie" (PhDr.)

• in the study programmes of law and security with juridical concentration "doktor práv" (JUDr.)

• in teacher training with study programmes of education and sports "doktor pedagogiky" (PaedDr.)

• in theological study programmes except for Catholic theology "doktor teológie" (ThDr.).


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


Organisation of Doctoral Studies

Higher education of the third cycle is achieved by completing the doctoral study programme. Doctoral study programme is aimed at acquisition of knowledge based on the present state of scientific and artistic knowledge and, particularly, on the student’s contribution to it, which is a result of scientific research and independent creative activity in the field of science or technology or independent theoretical and creative activity in the field of art.

The division of the study branches is similar to that in case of the first two levels of higher education. The number of study branches of the third level is higher compared to that at the first and second levels.

In the full-time form of study the standard length of study is three or four academic years. In the part-time form it is five academic years at most. The doctoral study consists of two parts – the study and research.

Admission Requirements

The admission to PhD. study is conditional on successful completion of higher education of the second level.

Before the admission procedure the higher education institution or faculty defines the themes of dissertation theses, to be applied for by the applicant. The supervisor is appointed for each theme. The applicant for PhD study will choose one of the announced themes. The external educational institution may publicise the themes either independently or in cooperation with the higher education institution or faculty.

The admission interview is carried out in the training institute before the admission commission which is represented by members of higher education institution and members determined by the head of the external educational institution if it is their topics. The members of the admission commission from the higher education institution are determined by the dean and/or rector. The admission examination may be taken after agreement with the higher education institution or the faculty with an external educational institution on the territory of the external educational institution. The decision on the result of the admission procedure must be made within 30 days from verification of fulfilling the conditions for admission to the study. The PhD study has both full-time and part-time forms of study.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

The training institution provides to full-time Ph.D. student a scholarship for the period of his study. The claim for scholarship expires, if the student has already received higher education of the third level or if his studies exceed the standard length of the study programme. Minimum length of the PhD scholarship is set by law. The scholarship is tax free.

The PhD students in full-time form of study under 30 years are persons insured by the State for health insurance purposes. Social insurance may be arranged on voluntary basis. The PhD students in part-time form of study are not insured on the basis of their study and have no right to receive scholarship.

Supervision Arrangements

The applicant for doctoral study is admitted to a concrete theme of thesis and tutor assigned. The course of the PhD study is continuously monitored by a special commission that approves the proposal of the study part of the PhD student study submitted by tutor. The higher education institution creates conditions for implementation of the research part of the student studies, either through individual research or involvement in a research theme. If an external educational institution takes part in the study, the research takes place in the institution.

Employability

In case of the doctoral study programmes there are no special tools applied for monitoring employability. The requirements within the framework of accreditation procedure are based on the same principles as those at the first and second levels.

Assessment

For assessment of the PhD study programmes a credit system of study is appropriately applied. The study of the PhD student is a subject of annual assessment which is interlinked to cumulation of credits for individual activities of the PhD student. A part of the PhD study is a completion of the dissertation examination, to be concluded by the defence of a dissertation thesis.

The annual evaluation of PhD student rests in evaluation of the state and level of the PhD study, inspection of fulfilling the set up tasks of the study and scientific parts of the PhD study. The annual evaluation of the PhD student is carried out by the instructor in cooperation with the PhD student in a written form. He/she submits it to the head of the training institute along with the proposal of continuation, expulsion or prolongation.

The dissertation examination and the defence of dissertation thesis belong to the State examination. The examination commission has 4 members at least. If the PhD student has applied for the dissertation theme proposed by the external educational institution, both the dissertation examination and the defence of the dissertation thesis take place before the commission in which there is a parity representation of the members of the higher education institution and the members determined by the external educational institution.

Certification

The Ph.D. study is finished by the defence of a dissertation thesis after completing dissertation examination.

The graduates of the Ph.D. study are issued diplomas showing the name of the higher education institution, faculty, study field and study programme; in case the PhD study took place in the external educational institution, also the name of the latter. The graduates of Ph.D. study are awarded the academic degree of "doktor" ("philosophiae doctor") abbr. Ph.D. and in artistic PhD study programmes the academic degree of "doktor umenia" ("artis doctor") abbr. ArtD. After the initial comprehensive part of PhD study the PhD graduates in the field of Catholic Theology are awarded the academic degree of "licenciát teológie" (abbr. ThLic.). The graduates of PhD study in these areas are also awarded the academic degree of "doctor teológie" (abbr. ThDr.).

Organisational Variation

Non-standard forms of doctoral study are not provided. In case of part-time form of study the students usually carry out the research outside the higher education institution/faculty, but the requirements for regular completion of the study are the same as in full-time form of study.


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