TO COMBAT the impact of the financial crisis and unemployment the Education Ministry has recommended that state-financed universities admit more students than they originally planned for the upcoming academic year.
Under the plan, 5,000 additional students could enrol in the universities this autumn, the Sme daily reported.
“It is a joint initiative of the prime minister and the Education Ministry to fight against the economic crisis,” the ministry’s spokesperson Dana Španková told Sme, adding that the plan would prevent the high-school graduates from going on the unemployment rolls and at the same time give them the opportunity to improve their qualifications.
“The crisis has been around since January, so why are the students all of a sudden to be the solution now, if three weeks ago they weren’t?” Sme quoted Renáta Králiková from the Slovak Governance Institute think-tank.
According to Sme, many universities have limited the number of students they will admit this year, because of one criterion in particular which is used in deciding their accreditation: the number of students per teacher.
Without adding staff, universities with too many students risk losing their status and being downgraded to higher-education institutions.
A downgrade would mean less money from the state budget.
Education Minister Ján Mikolaj promised the universities that the additional students they admit would not be considered in the accreditation process next year.
However, some rectors are worried that after the 2010 election when the ministry changes, this promise might be forgotten, Sme wrote.