Being A Student In Bulgaria: 2016 vs 2017 – What Has Changed?
Expenditure on education in Bulgaria has fluctuated considerably in recent years. The country spent 4.6% of the GDP on educational investment. Its higher education is sought after by many foreign students due to its quality. The living expenses and tuition fees are particularly affordable. Substantial reforms in Bulgaria began in 2016 when a series of changes were introduced. These reforms were designed to significantly improve the quality of Bulgaria’s universities.
1. Modernisation of Higher Institutions
The Bulgarian government is aiming to modernise higher education to reach the attainment rate of 36% before 2020.
Initial research suggests that there are many challenges before this can be achieved including underfinancing, insufficient links between training and research, irrelevant labour market and access difficulties amongst vulnerable groups. It is also aiming to adapt the quality of education to bring it in line with standards of the European Council. To do this, there are major changes Bulgarian government needs to put in place, such as:
– Improving access to higher education
– Setting up a sustainable link between higher education and the labour market
– Upgrades to the system that governs higher education.
2. New Reforms to Improve Students Employability
In 2016, the Minister of Education announced reforms of higher education in Bulgaria after a meeting of council ministers. It was hoped that a new link would be forged between higher education and labour market. Those changes aim to limit the growth of professions believed to be “unclaimed” such as economics and management. It also aimed to stimulate the growth of careers in the most sought-after opportunities in the labour market.
The changes established four distinct categories: ICT and mathematics are prioritised, as well as those in technical fields such as engineering, science, education and agriculture, along with military affairs. Although these careers are in demand, there isn’t much interest amongst students, creating a skills shortage. Other categories which are urgently seeking skilled professionals include law, architecture and medicine. Higher education institutions are being encouraged to take steps to improve educational provision.
3. More Funding for Higher Education
In their bid to further improve quality of education, Bulgarian authorities announced that they would continue their funding for higher education. Students will then have access to better infrastructure and quality education.
There are many areas of student life which also have room for improvement. The cost of living is still a challenge, although Bulgaria is considered to be one of the cheaper places to study in Europe. Most universities in Bulgaria will have student halls of residence, but the majority of students choose to live in private accommodation off campus.
Also, there is tuition fee support and Visas for foreign students. These Visas also allow students to work part-time to support their studies, but the employment rate is quite high, so it can be difficult to secure and sustain employment.