WHEN the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice (UPJŠ) opened its Faculty of Arts last year, the institution confirmed itself as one growing in reputation and popularity.
The enlargement of the university and its range of study fields has furthered the tradition of university education in Košice, going as far back as the 17th century, when the first Academia Cassoviensis was established there under the management of the Jesuit community. UPJŠ opened its doors in 1959, and has since then been providing higher education for its students in a growing number of fields.
According to the school's rector, Ladislav Mirossay, traditionally popular subjects such as psychology, law and medicine are being supplemented by a growing interest in interdisciplinary studies. In response of this, new interdisciplinary programmes are being introduced at the UPJŠ every year.
"These are not connected with only one faculty of our university, but rather link interesting fields across the university," Mirossay told The Slovak Spectator.
As a result of the cooperation between the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Natural Sciences, new study programmes combining natural sciences (biology, physics, chemistry) with philosophy, psychology and languages have been launched at the UPJŠ. Next year, they are planning to introduce a new interdisciplinary programme in applied ethics. In addition, the UPJŠ is trying to develop study programmes primarily oriented on practical skills, such as a programme named English for European Institutions and Economy that was opened in response to Slovakia's accession to the European Union.
The university's success has led to one small problem, however: "All in all, the number of applicants exceeds the possibilities of capacity and staff at UPJŠ," Mirossay said.
He said that successful performance in education was being coupled with advancements in research and science. Here, the university is proud about its achievements in cooperation with international universities and research institutions.
According to Mirossay, one of its most significant projects is being carried out in cooperation with Caltech - the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.
The project is named Implementation of the New-Generation Intelligent Digital Technologies into Education and Organization of the Research and Scientific Work. Employees of the UPJŠ Technology Transfer Laboratory are taking part in the development of the main output of the project, EVO (Enabling Virtual Organization), a technology for videoconferences, and have developed an automatic archive system AVE (ArchiVE). According to Mirossay, these products will be soon prepared for commercialisation.
In the past, the same laboratory contributed to developing another videoconference product called VRVS (Virtual Rooms Videoconferencing System).
"At present, there are more than 1,600 videoconference system users in Slovakia, which puts the country on the 6th position in the world rating of the users of this technology," Mirossay told The Slovak Spectator.
Another achievement of the UPJŠ in the field of the transfer of technology is the introduction of AIS, the Academic Information System, which serves as an information tool for universities. Mirossay said it has been developed at the UPJŠ in collaboration with several IT companies.
The University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, is the most significant European research partner of the UPJŠ. The Košice Institute for Society and Health is the joint centre for these two universities, focusing its research questions on the social aspects of health. The university's own Mission Pursuing policy describes a key aim as encouraging the international dimension of research and education. Apart from the fact that the UPJŠ has strong international research partners, student exchange should also be fostered, the policy states.
According to the rector, the only faculty offering a whole study programme in English is the Faculty of Medicine, where international students can study the General Medicine or the Dental Medicine programmes in English.
Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice
Rector: Ladislav Mirossay