The Law on Academic Staff Development in the Republic of Bulgaria regulates academic staff members’ continuing professional development.
According to the Higher Education Act the following positions can be awarded to faculty members:
- for habilitated persons - associate professors and professors.
- for non-habilitated persons - assistant professors and chief assistant professors.
The positions occupied by non-habilitated persons (assigned solely to instruction of non-specialists in languages, sports, arts and suchlike) can be those of lecturers and senior lecturers.
The academic posts of "assistant", "senior assistant", "associate professor" and "professor" are described in the terms and conditions laid down in the Development of Academic Staff in the Republic of Bulgaria Act and the statutes of the institutions of higher education. Except for the position of "assistant", all other positions can be occupied under indefinite-term contracts of employment.
Higher schools shall be entitled to set additional conditions and requirements in regard to faculty members in the higher school's Rules of Operation or in their employment contracts. The higher school's Rules of Operation (Rulebooks) prescribe faculty members' working hours, the type and volume of their teaching and other assignments, as well as the conditions for their performance.
Higher schools evaluate each faculty member's contribution to the instructional, research, artistic and creative, administrative and other activities and make performance assessment of non-habilitated faculty members once every (3) years. For habilitated instructors the evaluation is performed once every five (5) years. The evaluation and performance assessment are conducted in accordance with pre-announced standards and criteria laid down in the higher school's Rules of Operation, which must invariably comprise:
- adherence to the teaching-workload norms as approved by the Academic Board;
- development of new seminar and/or laboratory exercises, textbooks and teaching-aid literature;
- scientific (artistic and creative) production, involvement in contracts for scientific research and international scientific co-operation;
- supervision of graduating seniors, doctoral candidates and trainees engaged in specialised studies;
- student-opinion polls.
The Academic Staff Development in the Republic of Bulgaria Act regulates academic staff members’ continuing professional development. The result should be a higher academic position, leading to a larger renumeration and higher work satisfaction.
The research activities at higher schools are directed at obtaining of new knowledge and products with scientific applicability, as well as at curriculum development.
Research organization and management are set by the higher school’s Rules of Operation. Each higher school encourages mostly priorities related research and project activities. The higher schools have the right to plan and conduct research together with other higher schools, science and research organizations and institutions in the fields of common interest.
The research activities are funded by the state budget and other sources, collected according to the rules for financing, in compliance with the Higher Education Act.
Higher schools have the right to use funds for research to pay teachers’ and researchers’ activities on term labor agreements as well as research involved students and doctoral students when they are engaged in a research task for which the funds are set out.
Incentives for Participation in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Activities
According to the Higher Education Act habilitated faculty members are entitled to sabbatical leave of one academic year for their academic development. No teaching workload is assigned to them during this year. The time for academic development also includes any specialised studies outside the higher school lasting more than three (3) months. The decision shall be taken by the Faculty Board. Each higher school decides on any additional benefits it wishes to grant to staff participating in CPD activities.
In November 2016 the European Commission approved the project of the Ministry of Education and Science under the “Erasmus+ program” called "BG TEACHING INOVATION TOOLS IN HIGER EDUCATION" which ran until the end of October 2018. The project aimed to support the implementation of the first two main objectives of the Bologna report as outlined in the Yerevan Communiqué:
- raising the quality and relevance of learning and teaching
- promoting better employability of higher education (HE) graduates
The project is focused on the following important issues:
- improving teaching skills aimed to make teaching and learning more innovative and raised quality of HE;
- using the HEInnovate tool that was tested first time in Bulgaria in 2013 to support entrepreneurship in HE institutions (HEIs).
In the course of the implementation of the project a study was carried out on the needs for raising the qualification of the Bulgarian academic teachers with the help of specially designed questionnaires aimed at the teachers and the students from a representative sample of the Bulgarian higher education institutions.
There were 3 seminars with more than 300 academic teachers before who were presented the results of the survey and good practices for innovative teaching and learning of students. Particular attention was paid to the use of the on-line tool developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission to support entrepreneurship in higher education institutions - HEInnovate. Compendium of good practices under the project "Innovative Instruments for Improving the Skills of Higher Education Teachers in Higher Education in Bulgaria" has been published, which gives a clear picture of the current state of teaching and training in the Bulgarian higher education institutions.
Presented are ways and methods for improving teaching skills, enhancing interactive learning methods, promoting digitalization to meet the wishes and needs of the current generation of Bulgarian students.