The Slovak Governance Institute (SGI) has welcomed Education Minister Ján Mikolaj’s decision to withdraw from the April parliamentary session a draft revision to the University Act.
He had earlier withdrawn it from the March parliamentary session. The SGI’s education specialist Renata Králiková said she believes Mikolaj will rewrite it and eliminate problematic aspects. “We believe that it should not contain anti-constitutional and discriminatory stipulations damaging private higher education facilities,” Králiková told the SITA newswire.
According to Králiková, the draft amendment is anti-constitutional as it limits the activities of private universities only to education, research and development, or artistic activity. She argued that eliminating economic activities by universities is wrong, and suggested that during the present crisis, schools could earn money by renting out premises.
Education Ministry spokesman Dana Španková confirmed to SITA that Mikolaj has not given up on the revision and still plans to submit the amendment to parliament once it gains sufficient political support. A junior party in the ruling coalition, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has repeatedly criticised the amendment. HZDS leader Vladimír Mečiar says the draft lacks an adequate guarantee that universities would not lose assets deposited in companies they set up. Mikolaj said he wants to meet representatives of both public and private universities on Tuesday, April 21.
Miroslav Číž, the chairman of the parliamentary caucus of the largest coalition party, Smer, told the Hospodárske Noviny financial daily that his party would wait for the outcome of the minister’s talks with university chancellors. Through the amendment to the University Act, the education minister wants to allow public universities to establish joint-stock companies and limited liability companies, or to invest in existing companies. Business activities would have to be related to research and development. According to the proposed amendment, foreign universities that open branches in Slovakia could receive state incentives. However, they would have to be accredited according to Slovak law in order to do so. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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16. Apr 2009 at 15:00