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Higher education funding


3.Funding in education

3.2Higher education funding

Last update: 26 March 2024


The main source of public higher education institutions’ funding is constituted of subsidies from the state budget. In order to cover operating costs, public higher education institutions use the following resources: 

  • tuition fees, 
  • study-related fees, 
  • proceeds from further education,
  • proceeds from public higher education institution’s property,
  • proceeds from intellectual property,
  • proceeds from the school’s own financial funds,
  • proceeds from donations
  • other proceeds from the main activity of the public higher education institution,
  • profits from the public higher education institution’s business activities

Higher education institutions’ income can also be constituted of subsidies from budgets of municipalities and higher territorial units. 

Public higher education institutions can use loans from banks to fund their research and development activity and capital expenditure if approved by the higher education institution’s academic senate and administrative board. Subsidies from the state budget cannot be used to pay back loans and interest.

Funding from the state budget is provided to

Funding of public higher education institutions through the Ministry of Education, Research, Development, and Youth of the Slovak Republic is governed by act no. 131/2002 Coll. on higher education (Zákon č. 131/2002 Z. z. o vysokých školách). Subsidies to public higher education institutions are allocated based on the methodology of the breakdown of subsidies from the state budget for the respective year (metodika rozpisu dotácií zo štátneho rozpočtu pre príslušný akademický rok), which is created and annually updated by the ministry of education following the statement of HEIs’ representatives.

A part of the funding from the state budget is allocated to HEIs based on performance agreements. The agreements contain measurable indicators for the period of three years, which are grouped into thematic areas defined by Directive no. 48/2023 on measurable indicators of agreements on the provision of subsidies to public higher education institutions (Smernica Ministerstva školstva č.48/2023 o merateľných ukazovateľoch zmlúv o poskytnutí dotácií verejným vysokým školám). The measurable indicators are divided into basic measurable indicators (which are compulsory) and optional measurable indicators (HEI must choose 6 indicators out of the group).

The ministry provides subsidies to public higher education institutions for the implementation of accredited study programmes; research, development and artistic activity; higher education institutions’ development; and for social support of students. The ministry provides subsidies to public higher education institutions under a contract.

The decisive factors when determining the subsidies for the implementation of accredited study programmes are the number of students, number of graduates, costs of the provided study programmes, quality, graduates’ employment outcomes and other perspectives associated with providing tuition.

Another tool for funding science and technology in Slovakia is also Slovak Research and Development Agency. The agency is an organisation of the Ministry of Education, Research, Development, and Youth of the Slovak Republic and it was founded for the purpose of supporting research and development in Slovakia by providing funding from the state budget for implementation of projects.

Public higher education institutions can pursue business activities. The business activities must not affect the quality, extent, and accessibility of activities that constitute the public higher education institution’s mission.


Financial autonomy and control

Subsidies from the state budget for the activity of higher education institutions are earmarked.

Public higher education institutions create the following financial funds from their profit:

  • reserve fund,
  • reproduction fund (designed for procurement of movable and immovable property),
  • scholarship fund,
  • fund for the support of the study of students with special needs,
  • social fund

A public higher education institution will use at least 40% of its income for the generation of a reserve fund. A public higher education institution shall use the reserve fund to balance the loss from the previous year and to cover the unsettled loss from the previous years if the public higher education institution shows such a loss. If a public school does not show any unbalanced loss, it may use the finances from the reserve fund to supplement its other financial funds. 

Public higher education institutions’ annual balance sheets must be audited at least once in four years. The rector is accountable to the minister of education for the efficient and effective use of subsidies and their accounting with the state budget and for the management of the public higher education institution’s property.

The public higher education institution will give its financial statement at the end of each calendar year and will present it to the ministry at the date set by the latter for clearing financial relations with the State budget. At the same time, public higher education institutions are obliged to submit a budget proposal for the respective financial year to the ministry every year.

The ministry performs the inspection of public higher education institutions’ management.


Fees within public higher education

Full-time study at public and state higher education institutions is free of charge.

Students who exceed the regular length of study of a study programme or who study more study programmes of the same degree have to pay tuition fees. The amount of tuition fees is determined by each higher education institution by means of internal regulations; however, it cannot exceed the maximum tuition fee amount defined by law. 

In the academic year 2023/24, the annual tuition fees for full-time study programmes must not exceed €2,725,  in the academic year 2024/25 must not exceed €3,075.

If students study longer than the standard length of their study programme without a serious reason, they must pay annual tuition fees for each extra year of study, the amount of which is determined by the higher education institution. 

Part-time study at public and state higher education institutions is provided for a fee. The tuition fees for individual study programmes are set by each higher education institution individually; only the maximum annual tuition fee is determined by the state in a provision. 

The maximum annual tuition fee for the academic year 2023/24 is €5,970 for part-time bachelor study programmes and €8,330 for master study programmes. Public higher education institutions are legally obliged to publish the amount of tuition fees and study-related fees for the next academic year at least two months before the date when the application process starts.

Tuition fee is also paid for study programmes in other than the state language or study programmes in the language of a national minority. The amount of the tuition fee is not regulated by the state but is determined by schools’ internal regulations. 

Tuition fees and study-related fees for students studying under international agreements will comply with the provisions of these agreements. Public higher education institutions may require that applicants for study pay fees for the material provision of the admission procedure. The fees are derived from the higher education institution’s real expenditure connected with this action. 

Public higher education institutions may also require students to pay the following fees:

  • for the issue of documents on the study and their copies, 
  • for the issue of documents on completion of the study, if required in a foreign language (except for the diploma supplement, which is issued free of charge), 
  • for the issue of copies of the documents on completion of the study and 
  • for the recognition of equivalence of credentials.  

The fee amount is determined by an internal regulation of the higher education institution and derived from the real expenses incurred by the higher education institution in association with this operation.

The tuition fees and study-related fees may be reduced, remitted or their due dates may be deferred by the Rector, with regard to the student’s study results, social situation and health, or other facts deserving special consideration, in accordance with the principles listed in the Statute of the higher education institution.

Tuition fees and study-related fees at private higher education institutions are set by each higher education institution individually in their internal regulations.


Financial support for learners' families

Financial support for students’ families is provided indirectly in the form of family allowances and the tax bonus.

More details can be found in the chapter Early Childhood and School Education Funding: Financial support for learners' families.


Financial support for learners

Students are provided financial support directly in the form of scholarships and loans and indirectly in the form of subsidies for social support of students.

The indirect forms of social support include mostly the following services:

  • catering and housing with regard to higher education institutions’ possibilities with an allowance for expenses associated with catering and housing,
  • financial support and organisational support of sports activities, cultural activities, and university pastoral centres,
  • discounted travel tickets.


Merit-based scholarship

Higher education institutions grant students merit-based scholarship from the special-purpose funds of the state budget or their own sources by means of a scholarship fund. It aims to award the best students and motivate others to improve their study results.

Subsidies from the state budget are provided to higher education institutions in such a way, that 10% of the best full-time bachelor and master students at each higher education institution could be granted merit-based scholarship of an average €500. Criteria are set by each higher education institution or faculty.

Students are entitled to such scholarship provided they meet all criteria set by the higher education institution. The number of students granted the scholarship, as well as the amount of the scholarship, is in the higher education institution’s competence. The higher education institution publishes a list of students who were granted the merit-based scholarship.

In addition, individual higher education institutions are provided subsidies for merit-based scholarships for students of selected study fields. The list of the fields of study concerned is made by the ministry in the methodology of distribution of state budget subsidies for the respective year. The subsidy from the state budget will be provided in such a way that 15% of students could be granted a scholarship of an average of €1,200. The use of the funds is earmarked for students of selected fields of study and in special cases limited only to bachelor study programmes.

With regard to the resources available, a higher education institution can grant special scholarships to students and graduates who completed their studies not later than 90 days prior to being granted the scholarship. Special scholarships are granted primarily for the outstanding fulfilment of study duties, for having excellent results in the area of studies, research, development, artistic or sports activities, and eventually, as a one-time or regular welfare benefit. Conditions for granting special scholarships are defined in the scholarship regulations of the higher education institution.


Need-based scholarship

The social scholarship is designed for all higher education institution students who study at schools located in the Slovak Republic and who have permanent residence in the Slovak Republic. Conditions are set by the Ministry of Education in Decree No. 102/2006 on granting social scholarship to students of higher education institutions (Vyhláška č. 102/2006 Z.z. o priznávaní sociálneho štipendia študentom vysokých škôl) and they are the same for all higher education institutions. The amount of need-based scholarship depends on the income of family members who are assessed together with the student.

Only first-time full-time higher education students can be awarded the need-based scholarship.

If the applicant studies at more higher education institutions, he/she applies for the need-based scholarship only at one higher education institution. The monthly amount of need-based scholarship in academic year 2023/24 is €10-375.

The amount of the need-based scholarship also reflects whether students study further than 30 km from the place of their permanent residence.
Students with special needs may be granted need-based scholarships also after exceeding the standard length of study provided it is due to their health disability.


Pregnancy scholarship

The scholarship serves to cover increased expenditures related to the health state of pregnant students, their special material needs, and the preparation for childbirth. If requirements are met for the scholarship to be granted, a pregnant student is legally entitled to it. 

The pregnancy scholarship is granted to students who have reached the age of majority and have been permanent residents of the Slovak Republic from the 13th week of their pregnancy. A person whose study was suspended due to pregnancy is also considered a student entitled to the pregnancy scholarship.

Pregnancy scholarships can be granted to pregnant full-time and part-time students of public, private, or state higher education institutions, who are not entitled to receive pregnancy benefits.

The pregnancy scholarship in 2024 is granted in the amount of €200 a month.


Corporate scholarship

Corporate scholarships are provided by entrepreneurs to higher education students based on the scholarship programme agreement between the higher education institution and the entrepreneur. The average monthly amount of the corporate scholarship awarded to students in the academic year 2023/24 must not exceed  €1,075.53.

The decision on awarding a corporate scholarship is made jointly by the entrepreneur and the higher education institution.

The corporate scholarship aims to support students in study fields that entrepreneurs consider relevant in terms of needed personnel and to motivate other students to study such programmes.


PhD scholarship

Full-time PhD students with permanent residence in an EU member state are entitled to the scholarship over the standard length of study, which they will receive after registering for study.

The monthly amount of the scholarship is defined by the Government regulation on the special scale of salary brackets of higher education teachers, and research and development staff. The state pays for students’ health insurance. Students can apply for social insurance (pension, sickness and unemployment insurance) as a voluntarily insured person.


Scholarship programme ‘I study at home. Slovakia will reward me.’

The scholarship is designed for students, who completed secondary education with the school-leaving certificate (Maturita) in 2024. It aims to motivate excellent and talented students to study at Slovak higher education institutions. Scholarship applicants are selected from three categories:

  • most talented Slovak secondary school ‘graduates’,
  • excellent students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds or specific disadvantaged groups,
  • best students who enrol into a study programme which trains students for professions with shortages.

The scholarship is awarded on condition that the student is enrolled in full-time bachelor’s or master’s study at a higher education institution residing in Slovakia in the academic year 2024/2025. The scholarship is paid monthly for the months of September to June over 3 years in the amount of €300. Students are entitled to the scholarship only during their studies. Their right to the scholarship ceases upon the completion of their study.

The final ranking of the successful applicants will be determined based on the results achieved in various categories: achieved percentile in selected Maturita examination subjects or results achieved in other activities, such as competitions, olympiads, and others. Social disadvantage indicators will also be taken into account.


Student loans

The system of social support also includes soft loans to students from the Fund for Education Support (Fond na podporu vzdelávania), activities of which are governed by Act No. 396/2012 Coll. on the Education Support Fund (Zákon č. 396/2012 Z.z. o Fonde na podporu vzdelávania). 

The fund for education support provides loans on concessional terms to selected target groups: 

  • higher education institution students, 
  • pedagogical employees of schools, 
  • professional employees,
  • PhD programme students, 
  • higher education institution teachers, research staff and art staff at higher education institutions up to the age of 35.

Applicants eligible for student loans are full-time or part-time students of the first, second, or third level of higher education who study at a higher education institution established on the territory of the Slovak Republic or at a foreign higher education institution.

There are four different types of student loans:

1. Student loan with a guarantor 

Students of the first and the second level of higher education can apply for a loan in the amount of €1000 to €7500, and students of the third level of higher education €1000 to €15000

2. Student loan without guarantor 

The loan is designed for students of the first and second level of higher education who were in institutional care, who are members of a household that receives the benefit in material need, or who were legally entrusted in the custody of a natural person other than their parent until the age of majority. The loan is granted in the amount of €1000 to €2000.

3. A loan for students of excellent higher education institutions

Applicants eligible for the loan are students who study at a higher education institution listed among the 500 best-ranking schools in the world. The loan is granted in the amount of €1000 to €40000. 

4. A loan for students who were granted asylum, additional protection, or temporary protection

The interest rate for loans provided in the academic year 2023/2024 is set at 4% p.a. The repayment period can be estimated at 5 to 10 years. The fund can provide a loan to a student only once in any given academic year and for a maximum of 6 academic years, which do not have to be consecutive. These are non-earmarked loans.


Private education

Private higher education institutions secure funding for their educational, research, development or artistic and other creative activities themselves.

The Ministry of Education and a private higher education may conclude an agreement on the provision of financial resources. The subsidies are conditional upon meeting measurable targets set for three years and chosen according to thematic areas listed in the long-term intention of the Ministry of Education.  

Private higher education institutions can receive dedicated funds for research and development projects.

The ministry provides private schools with subsidies for the social support of students. 

The private higher education institution shall determine its tuition fees and fees associated with the study at a private higher education institution in its internal regulation. It will publish the amount of tuition fees and study-related fees for the next academic year at the latest two months prior to the last day when applications for study can be submitted.

Private higher institutions are obliged to create and publish an annual report on their activity and submit it to the ministry. If a private education institution receives a subsidy from the state budget it must provide the ministry with an assessment report on meeting the measurable targets defined by the agreement on the provision of financial resources by 31 August.