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From Trnava to the Third World

CENTURIES ago, in the era of humanism and the Renaissance, Trnava used to be an important centre of science and knowledge. Nowadays the reborn University of Trnava seeks to follow the same values.

CENTURIES ago, in the era of humanism and the Renaissance, Trnava used to be an important centre of science and knowledge. Nowadays the reborn University of Trnava seeks to follow the same values.

The university was established in 1635 and taught students for 142 years. At the time, there were four faculties: theology, arts, law and medicine.

In 1992, the University of Trnava reopened as a modern educational institution. Now the university is home to five faculties: philosophy, law, pedagogy, theology, and health and social work.

According to Jana Bérešová, the deputy rector for external relations, the most popular field of studies is law. About 1,700 hopeful students apply for a place at the Faculty of Law every year. In the current academic year there are 315 first-year law students at the University of Trnava, Bérešová said.

In the Faculty of Philosophy, the busiest departments are psychology and history; in the Faculty of Pedagogy, the most popular field is social pedagogy and education; and in the Faculty of Health and Social Work, it’s the social work study programme.

The Faculty of Health and Social Work was ranked as the country’s best social science faculty by the Academic Rating and Ranking Agency (ARRA), which ranks Slovak faculties, Bérešová said.

“The faculties of the University of Trnava have been ranked highly in the short amount of time they have been in existence,” she told The Slovak Spectator.

The university also prides itself on living out its humanitarian principles.

“We not only theoretically spread our mission of humanity, but also carry out humanitarian missions in Slovakia, as well as abroad,” Bérešová said.

The university’s work in Third World countries fall under affiliated institutions of the Faculty of Health and Social Work. They include the Mary Immaculate Clinic in Nairobi, Kenya; the anti-malnutrition centres in Mukuru and Lunga Lunga in Kenya; the Tropical Clinic of St. Raphael and St. Bakhita in Mihango, Kenya; the Streetboy Centre in Kayole, Kenya; the Mary Immaculate Hospital in Mapurodite, Sudan; and the House of Hope in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

There is also an affiliated Faculty of Health and Social Work in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, where a study programme focused on social work and health care is taught entirely in English, Bérešová said.

In Slovakia, the faculties of the University in Trnava offer lectures in English and German for Slovak and foreign students. These are mostly attended by incoming international students, either those who come as part of exchange programmes such as Erasmus or those who do their entire degree there.

Most foreign students come to the University of Trnava from Arabic countries, Turkey (for classical history), Denmark (public health care), Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic.

“Their stay at the university helps to create a natural environment for the exchange of different opinions, as well as fostering tolerance between nations and nationalities,” Bérešová told The Slovak Spectator.

The university wants to work on increasing the number of incoming international students, because their presence at the university enriches the Slovak students and teachers, gives the education process a multicultural dimension and opens up possibilities to confront and compare each other’s opinions and approaches, she said.

“We are planning to open the university to (more) students from outside Europe as well, with the aim of providing them with high-quality education and opportunities to get to know our culture and opinions,” Bérešová said.

When talking about the quality of Slovak universities, the problem of research and science always comes up. According to Bérešová, research at Slovak universities is carried out under completely different conditions than in the rest of Europe.

“It’s impossible to compare the incomparable,” Bérešová told The Slovak Spectator.

However, experiences from international research projects show that Slovak researchers are equal partners to researchers from institutions in other European countries and overseas, because they are able to work in scientific environments that aren’t top-of-the-line, she said.

The University of Trnava supports its teachers and researchers in their efforts to take part in international research projects, Bérešová said. PhD students are also encouraged to spend one or two semesters at foreign universities and apply the knowledge they acquire at their home university.

More than 370 years after it was first established, and 15 years after it came back to life, the University of Trnava is proud of its progress, Bérešová told The Slovak Spectator.

“This academic year, the University of Trnava is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its rebirth, and all the results we have achieved so far commit us to sustain our position among Slovak universities and establish our university in the European academic arena,” she said.

University of Trnava

Founded: 1635, renewed 1992
Faculties: 5
Rector: Martin Mišút
Website: www.truni.sk

Topic: Spectator College

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