NITRA has history of higher education in pedagogy and teacher training which stretches back almost fifty years. But Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (UKF) now provides applicants who want to study in this historical city in south-western Slovakia with a much wider variety of options.
From 1959, Nitra’s Pedagogical Institute, which later became the Faculty of Education, was one of the leading institutions for primary teacher training in Slovakia, including the training of teachers for Hungarian-language schools. In 1992 the faculty gained university status and became known as the University of Education, with three faculties: Arts, Education and Natural Sciences. Four years later the university was renamed Constantine the Philosopher University and since then two more faculties – Central European Studies, and Social Sciences and Health Care – have been established. The five faculties now offer dozens of study programmes, among which the most popular include psychology, social work, biology, mass media communication and advertising, journalism, culture and tourism management, translation and interpretation, and applied informatics.
According to Rector Libor Vozár, UKF is preparing for the complex process of accreditation, which is currently the management’s main task. UKF also plans to open four new programmes in the coming academic year: environmental physics, public healthcare, Central-European culture, and music-teaching. However, education and study is only one part of university life.
“We expect some development with the help of EU structural funds mostly in the area of computerisation and support for science and research at the university,” the rector told The Slovak Spectator. To make the process of EU funding more effective a special department for structural funds was set up within the rector’s office in December last year. According to Vozár, the department’s job is to promote understanding of the opportunities for EU financing, and to provide support not only for projects targeting structural funds, but also other international research and educational projects.
Last year UKF staff were involved in 100 cultural, educational and other projects, most of them under the Cultural and Educational Grant Agency of the Slovak Ministry of Education (KEGA).
“Among the projects financed by the European Social Fund have been those supporting life-long learning and the popularisation of science in the Nitra region,” Vozár told The Slovak Spectator. These UKF projects included organising specialised courses for students of primary and secondary schools, doctoral students, teaching staff, public officials and the staff of local municipalities.
Another successful project financed by the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme/Erasmus project, which took place at UKF during the last academic year, was a three-week intensive Slovak language course for international Erasmus students organised by the university. Nine students from Bulgaria, Poland, Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic took part in the course in order to gain basic communication skills in Slovak that they can use later to help them study in Slovakia.
According to Vozár, one of UKF’s priorities is to make education there more international. Foreign students can already choose from a number of programmes offered by all five faculties. Most programmes are taught in English, but other languages of instruction are also used, such as German, Hungarian, Russian or Italian.
110 international students from Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and the United States are studying at UKF during the present academic year. Most of them have come to Nitra under international exchange programmes and government stipends from the Slovak Ministry of Education.
“The most intensive relations are obviously with the surrounding countries, but different European international educational programmes of student exchanges have allowed us to widen our relations with countries like the UK, Norway, France, Spain, Latvia, Romania or Turkey,” Vozár said. Exchange students are mostly interested in studying pedagogy and foreign languages at UKF, he added.
The rector says UKF plans to increase the number of foreign students studying there. To achieve this, it wants to widen the range of study programmes available in English and promote them better.
“One of our priorities is to make UKF more attractive to students coming to do their complete bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral studies here, with the main focus on students from countries outside the EU who pay their own fees,” Vozár told The Slovak Spectator.
The UKF has already made some advances in attracting foreign students and making their study stay as convenient as possible, he said. The English version of the university website includes information for international students and there are also information booklets available at the university in English and in Russian. The number of study programmes taught in foreign languages rises each year.
Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
Rector: Libor Vozár