UMB DIVERSIFIESITS FOREIGN-LANGUAGE PORTFOLIO

Slovak uni goes international

THE MATEJ Bel University in Banská Bystrica (UMB) was granted the Prize of the Mayor of Banská Bystrica in January in recognition of its significant contribution to the social and economic development of Banská Bystrica, and for the good rating it has attained on national and European levels, the UMB website said.

UMB offers dozensof study programmes taught in foreign lenguages at all three lewels at higher educationUMB offers dozensof study programmes taught in foreign lenguages at all three lewels at higher education (Source: SITA)

THE MATEJ Bel University in Banská Bystrica (UMB) was granted the Prize of the Mayor of Banská Bystrica in January in recognition of its significant contribution to the social and economic development of Banská Bystrica, and for the good rating it has attained on national and European levels, the UMB website said.

UMB was established in 1992, when the already existing Pedagogical Faculty and the Faculty of Economics of Services and Tourism (formerly part of the University of Economics in Bratislava) merged.

During its 15 years of existence, UMB has come a long way. Now it has six faculties and offers dozens of study programmes, some taught in foreign languages, at all three levels of higher education.

"The mission of the Matej Bel University is to provide advanced education on European and international standards," Beata Kosová, the rector of UMB, told The Slovak Spectator.

UMB offers study programmes in various fields, including: social sciences, law, foreign languages, political sciences and more, all through its Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Education and Faculty of Law.

"The most popular study programmes are in the fields of law, international relations, economics and management, tourism, social work, pedagogy, finance and banking, applied IT and other courses that can be flexibly applied to the labour market and the needs of potential employers," Kosová said.

According to Kosová, the 2008-2009 academic year will see new study programmes being opened at the Faculty of Humanities, such as the General Linguistics doctoral course. At the Faculty of Economics, the new Management of Tourism and Intercultural Communication study programmes will be taught in foreign languages, just like the International Relations programme, which is currently offered in English at the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations.

Out of the six faculties, the faculties of Economics, International Relations and Natural Sciences have programmes taught in English, Kosová said. All the other faculties offer at least some subjects taught in a foreign language. The university publishes a yearly brochure called ECTS, which serves as a guide for international students and lists all subjects available in foreign languages.

One of UMB's most successful international projects is the Faculty of Economics' French study programme, which gives students the opportunity to study some of the subjects in French. These subjects have been available informally since 1994. Since 2004, the French studies have been designed and taught in cooperation with the University of Poitiers.

The project is not limited to just teaching subjects in French, but also includes additional educational activities, such as conferences and seminars organised together with the French Embassy in Slovakia and with other foreign universities.

This year is the sixth time that UMB students will be able to take an MBA course in cooperation with the Nottingham Business School of Nottingham Trent University, taught both in English and in Slovak. Thanks to this programme, students in the middle of Slovakia have access to the Nottingham Trent University's methods and materials. However, the course has not yet attracted any foreign students.

International students come to study at UMB through the European Union's Erasmus student exchange programme. At the moment there are 80 students from around Europe studying at UMB. According to Kosová, the students coming in through the Erasmus programme outnumber those going abroad from UMB. Kosová said they are hoping to welcome more international students to UMB.

"Because of this, we want to increase the number of programmes and subjects available in foreign languages and we also want to create better conditions for the students' social life," she told The Slovak Spectator.

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