April 2009


School year 2007/2008

Number of elementary schools 448

Number of pupils in elementary schools 163,430

Number of pupils per teacher 10.68

Number of secondary schools 132

Number of pupils at secondary schools 91,849

Number of tertiary education establishments 89

Number of all students in tertiary education 90,403

Number of graduates in tertiary education (2004) 14,888

Number of students enrolled for postgraduate study 8,378


Source: Ministry of Education and Sport



The reformed school system


The Slovenian school system has seen a number of changes in recent years which are intended to ensure that as manypeople as possible realise their right to education, thus achieving a higher educational level. The framework has been established (9-year basic education, higher vocational education), and the basic premises are known; however, the programme of reform continues in terms of implementation at the levels of secondary and higher vocational education (the introduction of the credit system, connecting subjects, integration of theory and practice, open curriculum).


The share of financial resources for education in 1992 amounted to 4.76% of GDP, and since 1998 it has been around 6%, which is the average for the OECD oountries. Education’s share of total public expenditure was between 12 and 13% during the nineties. Expenditure per full-time undergraduate student in public establishments in the first half of the nineties was between US$ 4,300 and 4,900.


The education system in Slovenia is almost fully financed from the state budget; a small share of the finance is also contributed by local authorities.


Public expenditure on education includes expenditure on basic compulsory, secondary and tertiary institutions, as well as the running costs of pre-school education, post-graduate studies and expenditures related to boarding at some secondary schools and in university students’ accommodation. Included are both state schools and accredited private schools and, to the extent determined by law, also other private schools.


More secondary school pupils, more students

The educational structure of the population is improving. The percentage of young people aged 20-24 years who attained at least upper secondary education in 2003 was 90.7%. The percentage of the adult population (25-64 years old) that completed at least upper secondary education was 76.8% in 2003, and it is growing. Women are better educated than men and have, by and large, an education better suited to the requirements of the work they do.


The best educated are those employed in the area of education and public administration, while the unemployed are still less educated than those in employment. More than 17% of persons aged 25 to 64 were in some form of education or training in 2005.


Altogether, 98% of primary school leavers decide to continue their education immediately after primary education, and 84% of secondary school leavers go on to tertiary education. With regard to secondary education, more and more pupils are opting for four-year secondary school programmes. There are twice as many students in higher education as there were at the beginning of the nineties. Life-long learning is also increasing. Adults attend open universities, educational and study centres, schools and higher education establishments, as well as courses organised by companies, administrative bodies, organisations and societies. Adult programmes are organised within schools and outside them, education can be formal or informal, and there is also organised self-learning. A new act introducing a certification system was passed in 2000. It enables the assessment and verification of vocationrelated knowledge, skills and experience acquired out of school. It thus makes it possible for individuals to obtain a vocational qualification in ways other than through formal schooling. Candidates undergo a knowledge assessment procedure by a special commission to obtain a state-approved certificate attesting to their competence in performing certain vocational tasks. Vocational qualifications obtained in this way can be used by their holders to find a job or, in further training, demonstrating that part of an education programme has already been mastered.


Compulsory basic education

The nine-year basic education is divided into 3 three-year cycles (the first six years as primary education, the final 3 years as lower secondary education). Elementary schools provide a compulsory and extended curriculum. The compulsory curriculum must be provided by schools and studied by all pupils. It consists of compulsory subjects, electives, home room periods and activity days (culture, science, sports,technology). School must provide the optional elementary school curriculum, but pupils are free to decide whether they will participate. It includes educational assistance for children with special needs, remedial classes, additional classes, after-school care and other forms of care for pupils, interest activities and out-of-school classes. Children aged six-and-ahalf, or in exceptional cases six, enrol in year one.


Upper secondary education 

Upper secondary education includes vocational and technical programmes preparing students predominantly for labour, and general secondary programmes (called gimnazija) preparing students predominantly for further studies. Programmes in secondary education vary in content, duration and goals.


General secondary education

General secondary programmes (gimnazija) prepare students for further studies and are divided into two groups: ‘general’ (which also includes classical gimnazija) and professionally oriented (technical, economical and art gimnazija). They last four years and end with an external examination called the matura examination. Those gimnazija students who for various reasons do not wish to continue their education can enter the labour market by attending a vocational course and gaining a vocational qualification at the level of corresponding secondary vocational and technical programmes. On the other hand, students with completed vocational and technical programmes can enrol in a matura course and take the matura examination. Vocational courses and matura course as such provide a bridge between general and vocational education.


Secondary vocational and technical education

The planning, programming and provision of vocational and technical education are the joint responsibility of social partners (employers and trade unions) and the state. The common aims and goals of secondary vocational and technical education were defined in a common curricular document. This document stresses attainment targets in interdisciplinary fields and interest activities. Short-term vocational programmes should last a year and a half for students that have completed their basic education, and two and a half years for those without this. The programmes end in a final examination. The final examination certificate enables students to enter the labour market or to enter the first year at any other (upper) secondary vocational programme.


Pupils who have successfully completed elementary school can enrol in 3-year secondary vocational programmes. Until recently vocational education programmes were offered in the dual, that is the apprenticeship system, and/or in the school-based system. A new act on vocational and technical education has abolished the dual system as a separate path, since the new vocational and technical programmes integrate both practical training in the company and practical training provided by schools and/or inter-company centres as practical instruction. The final examination certificate enables students to enter the labour market or to continue education in two-year vocational-technical programmes which have been developed as an upgrade of vocational education. The aims of vocational-technical programmes are the same as those of technical education programmes and lead to educational qualifications at the level of secondary technical programmes, also called a technical qualification, in a specific field.


On the other hand, graduates who find a job immediately after completing a three-year vocational programme can re-enter education after at least three years of employment to obtain a qualification at the level of a secondary technical school by passing examinations. If they additionally pass examinations in the general subjects of the poklicna matura examination, they can continue their studies in tertiary vocational education.



Technical education is designed primarily as preparation for vocational and professional colleges, although it also leads to jobs with a broad profile. Secondary technical programmes last four years and end with the poklicna matura examination. The certificate of the poklicna matura enables students to enter the labour market or to continue education at vocational colleges or professionally oriented higher education programmes. There is also an option to take additional subject from the matura examination and qualify to enrol in academic higher education programmes.

Children of foreign residents are also appropriately provided for in Slovenia. They can receive an education at all levels: they can enter elementary school at any time, because all children living in the Republic of Slovenia have a right to compulsory basic education under the same conditions as its citizens. At other educational levels, they have to obtain official recognition for certificates documenting their prior education - for secondary schools at the Ministry of Education and Sport, and for further and higher education directly at one of the universities - before they enrol.


Post-secondary vocational education and higher education

The development of higher education

Over the last fifteen years higher education in Slovenia has undergone several legislative and structural changes, rapid institutional development, and a significant increase in student numbers.


The first higher education act in independent Slovenia passed in 1993 served as a basis for restructuring universities, the establishment of the non-university sector (single higher education institutions), and of private higher education institutions. In the following years higher education legislation has been amended several times, the most important changes being introduced in 2004 (supplemented in 2006), in accordance with the Bologna principles.


With only two public universities in 1993 the institutional landscape has expanded

to fifteen higher education institutions which cover all fields of study: three public

universities (incorporating forty-one faculties, three art academies and four professional

colleges) and twelve private higher education institutions (one university, five faculties and six professional colleges). Under certain conditions, private higher education institutions can also offer state recognised and co-financed courses.


The number of students has more than doubled since 1991. The share of higher education students per thousand inhabitants has risen from 19.1% in 1991 to 41.1% in 2005.




Post-secondary vocational education

Vocational colleges (višje strokovne šole) were introduced in 1996 and are institutionally separate from higher education. In the academic year 2006/2007 there were 51 vocational colleges, with 16,490 students. Post-secondary vocational education lasts two years, ending with a diploma examination. Since the 1998/1999 academic year, vocational college graduates have been able to enrol in the second year of professionally oriented higher education programmes if the higher education institution permits such arrangements.


Higher education institutions

Higher education institutions are universities, faculties, art academies and professional colleges. Public faculties, professional colleges and art academies can only be founded as members of public universities. Private (single) higher education institutions can be established as universities or single faculties, art academies and professional colleges.

Higher education institutions can be established by Slovenian or foreign natural or legal entities. They can offer accredited higher education programmes when they are entered into the register of higher education institutions of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology.


While faculties and art academies can offer both academic and professional courses, professional colleges can offer only professional study programmes. After legislative changes in 2004, professional colleges may be accredited also for second-cycle study programmes, provided they meet academic standards regarding staff and equipment.


Courses are adopted by the senate of higher education institutions. With the expert approval of the Council for Higher Education new study programmes become state approved. The completion of such programmes leads to a state approved diploma. All programmes accredited after April 2004 are measured in credit points according to the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). One credit point represents 25-30 student working hours; one academic year can last from 1,500 to 1,800 student working hours. In addition to teaching, higher education institutions also carry out research and art activities.


The Bologna reform

Slovenia joined the Bologna process with the signing of the Bologna declaration in 1999. A degree system based on three main cycles has existed in the Slovenian higher education system since the 1960s, but the length and the structure of studies did not correspond to the Bologna guidelines, so in 2004 a new structure of higher education studies was introduced.


Like some other EU countries Slovenia opted for a gradual implementation of the Bologna reform, so that by the academic year 2009/10, only so-called ‘post-reform’ programmes will be offered. Until then Slovenian higher education institutions will offer both ‘pre-and post-reform’ programmes.


The last time students will be able to enrol in ‘pre-reform’ programmes is in the academic year 2008/09, and they will have to complete their studies by 2015/16 at the latest. Once new programmes are adopted, they gradually replace the existing ‘pre-reform’ ones. The first new programmes began in the academic year 2005/06.


The pre-Bologna degree structure

The ‘pre-reform’ higher education system introduced in 1994 consists of undergraduate studies followed by postgraduate studies:

  • Undergraduate studies consisting of professional courses (3-4 years) and university (academic) courses (4-6 years) – graduates obtain the title ‘univerzitetni diplomirani …’, ‘diplomirani …’.
  • Postgraduate studies leading to a ‘Specialist’ (1-2 years of professional studies), ‘Magister znanosti’ (2 years of research-oriented master of science) and ‘Doktor znanosti’ degrees (4 years of doctoral studies or 2 years for graduates with ‘Magister znanosti’).


The post-Bologna degree structure

The higher education reform in 2004 introduced a threecycle structure according to the Bologna process guidelines. The duration of courses is limited in credit points (CP ). One CP stands for 25-30 hours of student work. 60 CP representone academic year.

  • The first-cycle has a binary system of academic and professional study programmes (180-240 CP; 3-4 years) leading to the first-cycle degree (‘diplomirani … UN’, ‘diplomirani … VS’).
  • The second-cycle offers masters’ courses (60-120 CP; 1-2 years) leading to the ‘Magister …’ degree. The new ‘Magister …’ differs from the old ‘Magister znanosti’ in content and the academic title awarded upon completion. The new ‘Magister …’ is no longer a first phase of doctoral studies, but is part of the pre-doctoral study structure.
  • The third-cycle comprises doctoral studies (180 CP; 3 years) leading to the ‘Doktor znanosti’ degree. Long non-structured masters’ programmes are allowed as an exception (for example, EU regulated professions).



The general admission criteria for access to higher education are defined by law, while the specific access requirements are defined in a study programme. The admission requirements are: a general ‘matura’ certificate (an external examination taken at the end of a 4-year secondary school programme) or a vocational ‘matura’ examination plus an additional exam for university first-cycle study programmes; a vocational ‘matura’ or a general ‘matura’ certificate for professional first cycle programmes; a first-cycle degree from corresponding field of studies (and additional exams in other cases) for masters’ studies; a second-cycle degree for doctoral studies; the results of additional tests, if special abilities (e.g. artistic talents, physical skills) are required for certain study programmes.


Student status is acquired by enrolment. The number of places available is fixed for all study programmes. The places available for new applicants are announced each year by higher education institutions in a pre-enrolment announcement separately for undergraduate and postgraduate study programmes (usually for undergraduate studies in January and for postgraduate studies in May).


For students from EU Member States, the enrolment procedures are the same as for Slovenian students. Places available for these students are included in the quota for

Slovenian students.


For foreigners from non-EU countries the number of study places available is set additionally and must not exceed 5% of full-time or 50% of part-time study places in individual study programmes. Places offered by public universities must be approved by the Government. If the number of applicants exceeds the available number of places, numerus clausus applies and Slovenian applicants as well as applicants from EU member states are selected according to the same criteria and procedure. If places available for citizens of the Republic of Slovenia and EU member states remain vacant, foreigners from non-EU states can also register for those places.


The organisation of studies


In Slovenia the academic year begins in October and lasts until the end of September in the following year. It is divided into two semesters: the winter semester usually runs from October to January, and the summer semester from February to the middle of July. The organisation of studies is defined with a study programme.


In public higher education institutions students from EU member states, like Slovenian students, pay tuition fees for part-time studies, while full-time studies are free.



For postgraduate pre-reform and third-cycle post-reform studies tuition fees are paid. Under certain conditions these studies can be subsidised by public funds, thus the tuition fee is correspondingly lower.

Foreigners from non-EU member countries pay tuition fees regardless of the type of studies. Students in private higher education institutions also pay tuition fees.


Language of instruction is predominantly Slovene. Many higher education institutions also offer lectures (especially at postgraduate level) in English.


The rules and procedures of the examination policy are set out in detail by the constitution of higher education institutions. As a rule, subject courses end with examinations, which can be oral, written or both. Examinations are usually held at the end of each semester during the four-week examination period  (January-February and June-July), and in September before the beginning of a new academic year.


The grading system is unified: 10 = excellent, 9 = very good, 8 = very good, 7 = good, 6 = satisfactory (pass grade), 5-1 = fail.


Every higher educational institution that accepts foreign students has an International Relations Office or a person responsible for international relations. It is recommended that applicants contact this office before enrolment for detailed information on application procedures and other necessary information.



Source: Facts about Slovenia /April 2009



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