Foreign education improves chances

STUDYING abroad can amount to an investment in your career. Employers in Slovakia often appreciate it when a job applicant has obtained a qualification from a foreign university, especially from one with an established reputation. But students must be careful, as official recognition of the titles they obtain is not automatic.

STUDYING abroad can amount to an investment in your career. Employers in Slovakia often appreciate it when a job applicant has obtained a qualification from a foreign university, especially from one with an established reputation. But students must be careful, as official recognition of the titles they obtain is not automatic.

“Foreign fellowships or various Erasmus programmes in a curriculum vitae are an unambiguous advantage,” Luboš Sirota, the director general and chairman of the board of the Slovak arm of Trenkwalder, a human resources firm, told The Slovak Spectator. “This [applies] especially for titles from prestigious universities in Europe but also in the USA. For example, graduates from the Prague-based Charles University or the Brno-based Masaryk University have good access to jobs. But more and more Slovaks are getting into prestigious universities, for example Harvard, Oxford, the London School of Economics, MIT, and so on.”

According to Sirota, employers are distinguishing between qualifications obtained in Slovakia or abroad.

“The experience of employers is that graduates of foreign universities have a greater ability to interconnect knowledge gained through learning with practical life,” said Sirota. “Equally, the most up-to-date knowledge and information about current research and developments are more available to them. They unambiguously excel in communication, trading and presentation skills compared to students from Slovak universities.”

Stanka Švecová from the team working on the project Career without Borders, who has experience in HR, confirms this.

“Such titles are perceived very positively,” Švecová told The Slovak Spectator. “If, moreover, the school or university and the title are generally recognised, than it is an even bigger plus.”

However, experience in Slovakia suggests that certificates, diplomas and studies are appreciated but not in the way that is common abroad. According to Švecová, Slovak employers do not see why a holder of a US MBA should be paid 100-percent more than colleagues without the title.



“When better earnings based on a foreign diploma is the only motivation for studying abroad, its holder may be disappointed,” said Švecová. “An MBA from the best American school will not secure you a salary which would allow you to ‘settle’ your high investment in an MBA.”

But there are some sectors in which suppliers of services simply have to show that they have in their teams people with certain certificates, or who are members of certain associations.

“Such diplomas and improvements in their profiles often raise the income of their holders,” said Švecová.



Recognition of titles



Slovakia, like other countries in Europe, has its own legal norms related to recognition of titles, course units, degrees and other awards. When recognising titles it is important to distinguish between recognition for academic purposes (i.e. when the holder would like their title to be recognised because he or she wishes to continue with their studies) and recognition for professional purposes (i.e. when the holder would like their title to be recognised because he or she wishes to work in a certain profession).

In the EU, professional recognition is settled via directives, while recognition of titles for academic purposes is within the purview of educational institutions. As regards recognition for professional purposes, it is important to distinguish between professions that are regulated from the standpoint of qualifications and non-regulated professions. A profession is said to be regulated when it is a statutory requirement that a practitioner holds a diploma or other occupational qualification in order to pursue the profession in question. In that case, the lack of the necessary national diploma constitutes a legal obstacle to access to the profession, the Slovak Education Ministry states on its website.

In the case of some regulated professions, EU member states have agreed upon automatic recognition of diplomas, certificates and other qualifications related to the professions delivered by member states in so far as they fulfil the minimum training conditions laid down by EU legislation. These professions are: doctor, dentist, nurse, veterinarian, pharmacist, midwife and architect.

In Slovakia, the Centre for Recognition of Documents about Education, which comes under the Education Ministry, serves as the responsible recognition authority. The centre receives about 12,000 applications each year. These are related to assessing studies abroad, matching them with the level of Slovak studies, conveying marks into the Slovak classification scale, and other areas, the Sme daily reported, citing centre director Eva Kaczová. The centre has experienced some problems with people who want to equalise their foreign titles with those awarded in Slovakia.



“It often happens that the applicant, when getting a specialised qualification, does not achieve any academic title or their level of education [knowledge] is completely different,” said Kaczová. For example the title of bachelor in Estonia is at the same level as master's studies in Slovakia.


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