Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in higher education


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.4National reforms in higher education

Last update: 29 March 2024


The amendments in this period in the Higher Education Act are:

It is stipulated that with funds from the state budget, activities for the implementation of national programs are financed in full or in part for the development of state higher education institutions and for national programs for the acquisition of a degree of higher education in higher education institutions abroad by Bulgarian citizens with the aim of their professional realization on the labor market in the Republic of Bulgaria. The national programs are adopted by the Council of Ministers. It is also provided the funds from the state budget for financing higher education to be planned annually in an amount not less than 0.9 percent of the gross domestic product, and to follow the goals set in the Higher Education Development Strategy. Every year, with the preparation of the draft state budget for the relevant year, the Council of Ministers shall plan the transfer from the state budget in an amount that ensures the achievement of an average gross salary for the academic staff in state higher education institutions of not less than 180 percent of the average gross salary for the country for the last 12 months, for which official data has been published from the National Statistical Institute. The criteria for determining the minimum salary of researchers, specialists and experts in higher education are also specified. Scholarships for doctoral students, financed by the state budget, shall be determined of the Council of Ministers in an amount not less than 150 percent of the minimum wage for the country for the last 12 months.

There are also amendments in the admission of the students. Until now the higher schools, after a decision of the academic board, might admit also without competition exam applicant students, who have passed successfully the state matriculation exams and/or compulsory state examination for acquiring professional qualification - in theory and practice of the profession. From this year in these cases, higher schools shall recognize the result of the certificate for education instead of the result of the relevant state matriculation exam, if the former is more favorable to the person.

Decisions of the Council of Ministers

With Decision No. 10 of 11.01.2024 of the Council of Ministers, the national map of higher education in the Republic of Bulgaria for 2023 has been updated.

Decision No. 24 of 22.01.2024 of the Council of Ministers amended the National Program "Increasing the Competences of Lecturers from State Higher Education Schools Preparing Future Teachers"

With Decision No. 103 of 15.02.2024 of the Council of Ministers the programs for the expansion and improvement of the building fund and the material base in the education system for the period 2024-2026 have been updated. The period for the implementation and financing of a program for the renovation, repair and furnishing of the student dormitories, provided for the management of the state higher schools and "Student Chairs and Dormitories" EAD, has been extended by one year and the budget of the program has been increased.


Modernization of higher education institutions

During the current period, the following were adopted:

  • Ordinance No. 26 of November 17, 2022 on the Register of Higher Education Institutions. The register is kept and maintained as an electronic database by the Minister of Education and Science through the National Center for Information and Documentation. It is already built and functioning.
  • Ordinance No. 1 of January 13, 2023 for the Register of all Active, Interrupted and Graduated Students and Doctoral Students by Degrees and by Professional Fields. A separate part is opened in the register for each student or doctoral student, in which contain data and circumstances identifying the person, data and circumstances for previously completed education degree, data and circumstances for training in the specialty/doctoral program, data and circumstances regarding the graduation process, as well as the changes in them. A person can verify whether he is a student or PhD student and can access scanned images of their graduate documents.
  • The Action Plan until 2024 for the Strategic Framework for the Development of Education, Training and Learning in the Republic of Bulgaria (2021 – 2030), with the Decision of the Council of Ministers of March 22, 2023. It envisages providing support to vulnerable groups for access to higher education. In implementation of this measure, additional trainings will be provided to students from vulnerable groups from the second high school stage, with the aim of successfully passing state matriculation exams and applying to higher schools students from vulnerable groups for the first year in the university. Under the Erasmus + program, funds are provided for educational mobility for citizens, including in higher education.

The Three-year Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy for the Development of Higher Education in the Republic of Bulgaria 2021-2030 (for the period 2021-2024) for the current year foresees support for the development of the academic staff in higher schools and scientific organizations, including increasing interest and improving conditions for doctoral programs related to the needs of the labor market. This happens through the support of modular programs and through the implementation of the National Program "Improving the competences of teachers from public higher education institutions which prepare teachers". In the period 2021 - 2023, 18 projects under the procedure "Modernization of higher education institutions" were approved within the budget of OP SESG with the participation of 32 higher education institutions. The funds provide: 

  • support for content creation and provision of technological resources for the development of quality distance learning, with interactive access and virtual classrooms, incl. for attracting foreign students and Bulgarian young people who lives abroad to study in Bulgaria
  • Significant increase in e-distance learning programs, improvement and updating of e-distance learning curriculums and platforms, digitization of content and creation of new interactive digital resources
  • Digitization of the educational process
  • Stimulation of educational cooperation between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Agricultural Academy and higher schools for the development of master's degrees and joint doctorates, for example through the adoption of a national program in the field of higher education
  • Stimulating the creation and supporting the functioning of joint educational programs between Bulgarian and foreign higher schools, as well as new forms of educational exchange within the framework of European cooperation, such as double and joint educational degrees and others.


With an amendment to the Higher Education Act, the Council of Ministers, on the proposal of the Minister of Education and Science, has adopted an annual update of the National Map of Higher Education in the Republic of Bulgaria. The National map determines the profile and territorial structure of higher education in the country by professional fields and specialties from the regulated professions in accordance with socio-economic development and the needs of the labor market. The National Center for Information and Documentation is normatively entrusted with the maintenance of an information system for higher education institutions. The information that must be contained in this information system has also been supplemented. A register of certificates issued for the purpose of issuing a long-term residence visa (visa type "D") to citizens of third countries accepted to study in Bulgarian higher-education schools and scientific organizations is included. The National Center for Information and Documentation is also entrusted with the maintenance of an information database for the contracts concluded with an employer to ensure the internship of the student in the relevant specialty for the period of the training and at a workplace after its successful completion.

The criteria for designated a as a research higher-education school have also been added A higher education school that makes a significant contribution to the development of important public areas through top scientific research and has high research results, evaluated according to objective indicators, including the number of scientific publications in additions, referenced in international databases, number of published applications for patents, number of citations by other authors in refereed and indexed journals in international databases, may be designated as a research higher-education school. The objective indicators, the international databases and the methodology for defining higher education institutions as research institutions shall be determined by an act of the Council of Ministers. The number of agreements that this type of higher education institution can conclude with state and municipal schools to carry out joint educational activities in the subjects and/or modules for acquiring profiled, professional and specialized training at the secondary level of education has also been increased - from four at eight. 

The conditions for early termination of the mandate of the Rector of the higher school have also been added:

- when plagiarism and/or unreliability of the scientific data, presented in the scientific works, on the basis of which a scientific degree has been acquired or an academic position has been occupied, is established with regard to the Rector of the higher education institution, or

- when the Rector fails to fulfill his obligation to terminate the employment relationship for the academic position held and revoke the academic degree obtained in the event of established plagiarism and/or unreliability of the scientific data of a person from the academic staff of the higher-education school.

Bulgarian higher education institutions may conclude agreements with each other to carry out joint training of students in a specialty of a non-regulated profession. The Higher Education Act regulates the mandatory content of the agreement. The agreements, as well as the amendments thereto, enter into force upon their approval by the Minister of Education and Science. The training are carried out under the coordination of one of the partner higher education institutions, within the framework of whose programme accreditation the specialization is opened, in which the joint training of the students is carried out.

The coordinating higher education institution must have programme accreditation for the professional field of the specialty, in which the joint training is carried out, and the other partner higher education institutions participate in the training of subjects from specialties in their accredited professional fields and/or specialties from regulated professions. Not less than half of the entire course of study must include subjects, related to the professional field, in which the programme is opened. The first period of training is conducted by the coordinating higher education institution. Students are admitted within the approved number for the respective professional field of the coordinating higher education institution, the number of students, admitted for joint studies being explicitly indicated in the act of the Council of Ministers.

The students are entered in the register of all active, interrupted and graduated students and doctoral students, by degrees of study and by professional fields as students of the coordinating higher education institution, noting the partner higher education institutions as well. The template of the diploma of graduated higher education and the joint study documentation for the training in the specialty is approved by the governing bodies of all partner higher schools. Individual records of the periods of study, undertaken by students are kept by the coordinating higher school. 

For continuing training in a specialty of a regulated profession, periods of training completed and credits awarded may be recognized only from training undertaken in the same specialty of a regulated profession and at the same grade of higher education. It is not allowed training in abbreviated terms in specialties of regulated professions, unless this is explicitly provided for in the state requirements for the acquisition of higher education degree in the relevant specialty of a regulated profession.

The conditions for the admission of candidate students have also been supplemented. After a decision of the academic council, the higher schools are allowed to accept, even without a competitive exam, candidate students who have successfully passed a mandatory state exam for the acquisition of a professional qualification - in the theory and practice of the profession. The admission of students, doctoral students and specialists - Bulgarians living outside the Republic of Bulgaria - is carried out according to a simplified procedure, with the Council of Ministers confirming their number annually. The admission of students, PhD students and post-graduate students - persons of Bulgarian origin, citizens of the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kosovo, the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of North Macedonia, the Republic of Serbia and Ukraine, are also carried out under reduced conditions, regardless of whether they have acquired Bulgarian citizenship or have a permanent residence permit on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria. Bulgarians living outside the Republic of Bulgaria pay fees for their studies under the conditions and according to the order set for Bulgarian citizens, unless an international agreement stipulates otherwise and they are not exempted from paying such fees. The amount of fees for persons with dual citizenship, one of which is Bulgarian, and students, PhD students and specialists accepted under intergovernmental agreements, in which this issue is settled on a reciprocal basis, has also been changed.

The object of assessment for program accreditation has also been supplemented, and in addition to the profile and qualifications of the teaching staff, the completeness of the documentation on the procedures for occupying academic positions and the ensured public access is also assessed.

Doctoral programs are subject to separate accreditation. Accreditation of a newly registered PhD programme may also be made outside the schedule /every 4 years/. In this case the accreditation shall be for the period until the relevant professional field is evaluated according to the schedule, when this newly registered doctoral programme shall again be subject to accreditation under the general procedure.

The funds for additional financing from the state budget for increasing the remuneration of the academic staff in the state higher-education schools are provided to the state higher schools as a subsidy for the support of the studies, after the criteria and indicators have been brought into their regulations for the attestation of the academic staff in accordance with methodology determined by an act of the Council of Ministers. These funds are distributed on the basis of the received comprehensive assessment of the quality of education and its compliance with the needs of the labor market, by professional direction for each higher education institution.

The amendments to The Development of the Academic Staff in the Republic of Bulgaria Act are mainly related to supplementing the data and the data exchange procedure in connection with the public register, in which the persons who have acquired educational and scientific degrees "doctor" and/or "doctor of sciences" in a higher school or scientific organization, the protected dissertation works and the habilitated persons. The unreliability of the presented scientific data is equated to plagiarism under sanctions and prohibitions in connection with holding positions.