Talented Slovak students have many opportunities to access fine education abroad while all they need are language skills, a sound scholarship scheme and well-off parents or sponsors. But education in a foreign language is no longer a one-way street out of Slovakia because this central European country also offers various study opportunities either for foreigners who want to study here but do not speak Slovak or for Slovaks who want to receive their education in a language other than Slovak. Students in Slovakia can now choose study programmes and classes in various languages, especially in English, German or French. (For more information please see also the table: Study programmes in foreign languages available in Slovakia)
One of the study options in Slovakia, which is part of the Lifelong Learning Program, is possible under the European Union academic programme called Erasmus, a student exchange programme founded in 1987. Undergraduates and graduates can study abroad for periods of three to 12 months in any country that participates in the programme or they can also enrol for an internship with a company or organisation from three to 12 months, according to the Slovak Academic Association for International Cooperation’s official website.
Another opportunity comes from the National Scholarship Programme (NSP) which is designed to support mobility among students, graduates, university teachers and researchers and is supported by the Slovak Ministry of Education. It offers scholarships to foreign graduate students to study towards their master’s degree from one to two semesters (from five to 10 months) at Slovak universities. However, foreign students who come to Slovakia under other fellowship programmes such as the Visegrad Fund Scholarship Scheme, Erasmus CEEPUS programme or bilateral agreements are not eligible for the NSP scheme. More information about the NSP can be found at www.stipendia.sk where applicants can also find some useful application tips.
Students can also apply directly to various universities and if they are citizens of a European Union country they do not pay any tuition fees since if an EU member state contributes to the costs of the education of its students, the same conditions apply to students from other member states. However, this applies only to tuition fees and not to state contributions for accommodation or food. But an education institution cannot charge students of other member states higher fees than domestic students. For more information, see www.euroinfo.gov.sk.
Students who apply for a NSP scholarship should submit their CV, a cover letter, a detailed study programme (with the dates and length of stay), two letters of recommendation from university teachers, and confirmation by their home university that the applicant is a full-time student at least in the sixth semester of study. If the applicant applies for a master’s degree study, then a certified copy of the bachelor’s degree should also be submitted. An acceptance letter from a Slovak university with the date of stay on an official letterhead of the university is also required, according to the Slovak Ministry of Education.
Various faculties at several universities in Slovakia provide study programmes in foreign languages. They differ based on level of study – from bachelor’s study through master’s degrees up to doctoral programmes – and according to the available languages for certain courses, as well. The most common language for these study programmes is English.
Do universities in Slovakia provide enough study programmes for outlanders? According to Renáta Králiková, an expert on university education with the Slovak Governance Institute, there is still a long way to go and she identified two major problems.
“On one hand, there are relatively few study programmes in foreign languages,” Králiková told The Slovak Spectator. “On the other hand, our universities are insufficiently active in their marketing abroad. For example, their websites are not well-arranged and informative enough in foreign languages.”
However, more study programmes in foreign languages means more students from abroad and that represents more revenues for universities from tuition, this expert says.
“Although there are exceptions, Slovak universities do not take enough advantage of this opportunity, as foreign students make up only a total of about two percent of all students,” Králiková said, adding that the tuition income issue is interesting only in the case of students who come from non-EU countries, since those from the EU have the same fees and conditions as Slovak students do.
“It is more important that foreign students bring diversity,” she said. “They have different views and make studies more interesting for Slovak students. That’s why universities try to attract outlanders.”
What’s available in Slovakia?
The University of Economics in Bratislava currently offers one bachelor’s study programmes called Languages and Intercultural Communication (in English and German). Students can also study towards a master’s degree in International Financial Management (in German), International Management (in English) and Sales Management (in French).
Kamila Kaššová from the Communication and Public Relations Centre of the University of Economics told The Slovak Spectator that seven foreign students, out of a total of 197, are currently studying in one of the three programmes at master’s level.
The Catholic University in Ružomberok offers four study programmes at two degree levels at its Faculty of Philosophy. A bachelor’s degree may be obtained in German Language and Culture (in German) and, according to Jana Kaščáková, the vice-dean for External Relations and Mobility, the most popular programme is English for Commercial Practice which is taught in English. In addition to these, there are two pedagogy programmes: English Language and Literature (in English) and German Language and Literature (in German). Both study programmes can lead to either BA or MA degrees, but must be combined with another subject in a foreign language.
Students with technical interests can choose from a wide range of study programmes in English at the Technical University of Košice. Eight faculties provide a total of 72 bachelors’, masters’ and doctoral study programmes: the Faculty of Mining, Ecology, Process Control and Geotechnology; the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering; the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics; the Faculty of Civil Engineering; the Faculty of Economics; the Faculty of Manufacturing Technologies; the Faculty of Aviation; and the Faculty of Metallurgy.
According to Katarína Valentová, officer for External Relations and Marketing of the Technical University of Košice, 145 foreign students currently attend study programmes in all degree levels at the university.
“Most of them currently study at the Faculty of Civil Engineering (BA and MA studies) and the Faculty of Economics (PhD study),” Valentová told The Slovak Spectator.
The Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice provides English language study at the Faculty of Medicine in a combined BA and MA degree and for the PhD degree and at the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Philosophy both also offer all degrees in several study areas in English. The combined bachelor’s and master’s degree at the Faculty of Medicine includes General Medicine and Dental Medicine. The doctoral study offers 10 study programmes. The bachelor’s study at the Faculty of Science includes Informatics, Biology and Physics and the master’s study also includes Chemistry, Mathematics and General Ecology.
According to Zuzana Kratyinová from the Department of University Education at Šafárik University, informatics is popular among foreign students.
At the doctoral degree level there are 16 study programmes available at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University. The Faculty of Philosophy also provides two bachelor’s and master’s programmes: British and American Studies; and English for European Institutions and Economics while British and American Studies is also available at the PhD level.
Kratyinová says that there are 302 foreign students attending complete programmes at the Faculty of Medicine, five at the Faculty of Science; 17 study only one or two semesters and three are studying at the Faculty of Philosophy.
The Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava offers complete master’s degree study programmes in English and German at its Faculty of Music and Dance. According to Jana Billová, the vice rector of the academy, 17 foreign and eight other students are attending the programs in this faculty in academic year 2009/2010.
“Foreign students are mostly interested in study programmes in Music and Dance Art,” Billová told The Slovak Spectator.
The University of Žilina provides complete study programmes in English and German at all levels of study at five faculties: the Faculty of Operation and Economics of Transport and Communications; the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering; the Faculty of Electrical Engineering; the Faculty of Civil Engineering; and the Faculty of Management Science and Informatics. The Research Institute of Alpine Biology offers a BA study programme called Ranger.
Michal Pokorný, the vice rector of the University of Žilina, pointed out that 10 of its programmes have their own academic literature in foreign languages. The university currently has 12 foreign students.
“They prefer Information Technologies, Civil Engineering or Aviation, in particular” Pokorný told The Slovak Spectator.
The Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica offers 11 study programmes at three degree levels at five faculties. According to Milota Vetráková, the vice rector for educational activities, students prefer BA study in Business Economics and Management (in English) at the Faculty of Economics and MA study in International Relations (in English and French) at the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations. There is also a master’s degree available in Catechism Teaching of the Evangelical Church (in English) at the Faculty of Education. Doctoral study is available at four faculties: the Faculty of Economics; the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations; the Faculty of Natural Sciences; and the Faculty of Humanities.
Four faculties provide several accredited study programmes at Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. The Faculty of Natural Sciences offers three programmes in English and the Faculty of Central European Studies offers two BA and MA pedagogy programmes as well as Hungarology at all degree levels in the Hungarian language. Students can choose from five Language and Literature pedagogy programmes in English, French, German, Russian or Italian at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels at the Faculty of Philosophy and there are two study programmes in English at the Faculty of Education: English Language and Literature; and English Language and Culture.
Another possibility for building one’s career is to go for a degree called Master of Business Administration. This programme is created for individuals with ambitions to hold top management positions. In Slovakia, universities offering the MBA degree are Economics University in Bratislava, Comenius University, the Faculty of Management and College of Management of City University of Seattle.
For more information about the Slovak labour market, HR sector and career issues in Slovakia please see our Career & Employment Guide
22. Feb 2010 at 0:00 | By Lenka Valacsaiová and Ivana Kvetková