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Reader feedback: Letter to the editor

Re: Foreign student famine, Volume 11, Number 33, August 29 - September 4, 2005

It was interesting to read the article by Marta Ďurianova about a lack of foreign students in Slovakia, and then this week's letter from Duri [TSS reader], giving his explanation why. I guess both are Slovak. As one of Bratislava's foreign students I would like to speak up.

First of all, I am happy that STU is in the best educator and top performance lists (even if you failed to use its new name in translation: Slovak University of Technology - another sign of progress). As far as I can see, it is because many of our professors try out new ways of teaching and have a good theoretical basis, as well as real practical experience, unlike their counterparts in some of the so-called international universities that are springing up.

I am taught in the English language and there are many European-wide references and aspects to my course.

In fact, I had colleagues from France and Spain in my Bachelor degree class who came to Bratislava as part of the Erasmus programme. I believe international recognition of Slovak degrees is strengthening. This being said, there is still a poor reputation generated abroad, as passing exams by paying teachers is not unheard of.

Before Slovakia starts academic marketing of itself abroad (like UK universities do) there needs to be lots more investment, as poor standards of classrooms and technical equipment can be frustrating.

It is not cheap for students to study here, so I sometimes ask myself why pay so much when some facilities are in fact much worse than I had in my Libyan high-school back home. Not to mention frustrating procedures for administrative purposes, while the medical and visa requirements make some non-EU students just decide to go somewhere else in the EU.

Finally, there is something still to be done about the attitudes towards foreigners. In any country that really wants tourists, foreign students, medical visitors, conference participants to come and spend money, then the local population has to make us feel comfortable, just like my Slovak friends and the many knowledgeable teachers who have also shown themselves to be thoughtful, open-minded, and kind.

Wasel Elgayar
Faculty of Architecture,
Slovak University of Technology,
Bratislava, Slovakia

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