THE UNIVERSITY of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Trnava (UCM), one of Slovakia’s newest universities, celebrated its tenth anniversary only last year. According to the rector, Eduard Kostolanský, 1997, when UCM was founded, was a year of expectations and plans. Today he believes most of them have been fulfilled: UCM cooperates with Slovak and foreign educational institutions, with industry, and conducts basic and applied research.
“After 10 years of existence we believe we have been accepted as a modern, avant-garde university when it comes to our study programmes and educational practices,” Kostolanský told The Slovak Spectator.
There are three faculties within UCM: the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Mass Media Communication and the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In 2005, the Institute of Physiotherapy, Balneology and Therapeutic Rehabilitation in Piešťany was founded as a part of the university. According to Kostolanský, each faculty offers at least one study programme which is currently proving popular with applicants. Prospective students have shown most interest in programmes such as psychology, marketing communication, political science, informatics, physiotherapy and philosophy. Although there are no plans for new study programmes in the 2008/2009 academic year, more will be proposed by UCM’s faculties as part of the process of complex accreditation that the university is currently preparing for.
“I expect there’ll be at least one new programme in each faculty, focusing on the expertise required by the modern times we live in,” Kostolanský told The Slovak Spectator.
For a new university like UCM there are still many items and improvements on the ‘to-do’ list; its plans for the next few years are therefore quite extensive. According to Kostolanský, these are linked to the broadening scope of activities in the university’s two main areas of work. In the educational area they plan to get a third, doctoral level of studies accredited. In the area of research and science the university will seek to obtain project grants from European funds. These should be projects that will have results with a practical application, Kostolanský said.
In its 10 years of existence, UCM has been struggling with the practical question of accommodation. The solution is now at hand, since the main lecture halls, rector’s offices and the management functions of all the faculties will soon move to a newly-refurbished building. According to the rector, another priority is the renovation of all the faculties’ laboratories, since these are an essential element in practical teaching. All these changes are planned for this year.
The rector is also aware that an international dimension to studies is becoming an important part of university education, which also poses challenges for UCM. He recognises that the university needs to prepare for this trend.
According to Kostolanský, interest in studying at UCM is growing among international students. At the moment there are 29 part-time and full-time foreign students studying at UCM, who come from Lithuania, Turkey, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Croatia, Bulgaria, Germany and Austria, the rector said. There are another 12 students studying there as part of international mobility programmes such as Erasmus and Ceepus, mainly from the Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia and Germany.
Kostolanský says international cooperation is one way to improve teaching and research standards. At the moment, UCM has 19 inter-university agreements and intends to sign additional cooperation agreements with universities in Shaoxing in China, Togliatti in Russia, Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria, Udine in Italy and Gothenburg in Sweden.
The University of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Trnava
Rector: Eduard Kostolanský