Payment schemes exist in Hungary and Romania where schools offer free education only to students with the best results.
Slovakia's universities continue lagging behind the competition around the EU as Slovakia spends only about 1 percent of its GDP on tertiary education. In a number of EU countries students are asked to pay tuition fees for those programmes which are not offered for free. Slovak authorities have started to discuss this as an option as well.
A group of experts on education linked to former education minister and Bratislava ex-mayor Milan Ftá─Źnik have prepared material for expert and public discussion about changes in tertiary education in Slovakia over the coming decade. The discussion includes introduction of study fees for students beyond the limit of public resources similarly to highly-developed OECD countries.
“The discussed issue would be that if schools accept 100 students today and send other candidates home due to limited capacity, they could take an additional 20 students and make them pay tuition fees," Ftá─Źnik said.
Charging for education
Education experts want to find whether the admission of paying students over those students supported by the state may increase the availability and quality of tertiary education. The dispute applies to very few undergraduate fields which use entrance exams for student admission and cannot offer studies to all candidates, according to Ftá─Źnik.
Similar payment schemes exist in Hungary and Romania where schools offer free education only to students with the best results. Students in Romania who are below the limit after entrance exams have to pay school fees in the first year of school, Ftá─Źnik explained. After their first year, schools recalculate their study results and allow best students to proceed to the free zone, he said.
“Though the solution is not the best, it would motivate our students because many of them now indicate they are not interested in grades at all,” Ftá─Źnik said.
Renáta Králiková, head of the project To Dá Rozum (Learning Makes Sense), which wants to improve the Slovak education system, however, recalled a quarter of students, part-time and private universities’ students included, who currently pay for their studies in Slovakia. Basically it is an extension of the number of currently paying students, she said.
Economy also in force
The Slovak Constitution defines free study according to the abilities and possibilities of the society. Hence, in addition to the student’s abilities, payments relate to the needs of economic and social practice, said Králiková.
“In the rapidly evolving economy and changes in the labour market, we cannot say what specific jobs the labour market will need in ten years,” Králiková told The Slovak Spectator.
If Slovakia wants to guarantee free education as far as possible of the society, it has to accept that there will be a set of students that society allows to attend universities, Ftá─Źnik said.
Ten-year reform plan
Tuition fees are not the only measure in discussion for the next ten years. The Education Ministry wants to replace the guarantors assessment with an internal quality assurance school system, introduce a new system of filling posts of professors and docents, improve support of dissemination of professionally-oriented bachelor’s programmes, open universities toward practice and the rest of the world, and improve the availability of study for selected groups...read more on Slovak Spectator