National Strategy for Research, Development, and Innovation 2030
In May 2023, the Government‘s Research and Innovation Authority introduced the National Strategy for Research, Development, and Innovation 2030 (Národná stratégia výskumu, vývoja a inovácií 2030), which aims to increase the competitiveness of the economy and the quality of life through the support of research, innovation, and talent. The Action Plan for the National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2030 (Akčný plán národnej stratégie výskumu, vývoja a inovácií 2030), which was published alongside the strategy, defines the schedule of tasks required to meet the goals of the national strategy in this area. The reform also includes measures focusing on the development of the educational system’s quality.
The action plan describes the following measures in higher education:
- Motivation of academic environment to engage in technology and knowledge transfer,
- Stable increase of institutional resources for higher education institutions,
- Transition to better indicators to measure the quality of results and the cooperation which will be used for the breakdown of subsidies to higher education institutions,
- Publication of VER results and their implementation into institutional funding of higher education institutions and Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) departments,
- Implementation of performance agreements,
- Introduction of support programmes for managing staff of higher education institutions and the Slovak Academy of Sciences,
- Ensuring that Slovak researchers can access international publication databases and research networks conveniently,
- Legislative change of the number and selection of the executive board members of the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education,
- Active grant support of innovative educational programmes at higher education institutions,
- Support of practical interdisciplinary teaching projects at higher education institutions,
- Scholarships for PhD students,
- Scholarships for excellent researchers,
- Support of social and cultural integration of foreign higher education students,
- Creation of short tertiary programmes,
- Introduction of a master’s programme in technology and knowledge transfer and innovation management.
Long-term Intention in Education, Research, Development, Arts, and Other Creative Activities for the Area of Higher Education Institutions
In August 2023, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport of the Slovak Republic approved a new Long-term Intention in Education, Research, Development, Arts, and Other Creative Activities for the Area of Higher Education Institutions for 2023 – 2028 (Dlhodobý zámer vo vzdelávacej, výskumnej, vývojovej, umeleckej a ďalšej tvorivej činnosti pre oblasť vysokých škôl na roky 2023 – 2028). The ministry will focus on the following strategic goals:
- Support of diversification of higher education institutions in regards to the higher education institutions’ profiles and mission and the structure of their performance,
- Provision of sufficient, timely, and targeted support for all higher education students,
- Reform of the methodology of allocation of subsidies from the state budget to public higher education institutions, which reflects their diversification into specialisation,
- Support of the principles of open science, open education, and academic ethics at higher education institutions,
- Support of career development for higher-quality of research and education.
Long-term Intention in Education, Research, Development, Arts, and Other Creative Activity for the Area of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) also introduces a new element of funding of higher education institutions – performance agreements. Performance agreements will support the strategic intentions of individual higher education institutions, which will promote the diversification of the higher education environment with profession-oriented programmes (schools of applied research). The implementation is underway. The plan is to sign agreements with 90 % of HEIs by the end of 2023. The support of HEIs through performance agreements should also increase their atractivity and contribute towards increased interest in higher education study.
Amendment to the Higher Education Act
On March 23, 2022, the members of the National People's Republic of Slovakia approved an amendment to the Higher Education Act. The goal of this legislation is a systemic change in the management of public universities with the intention of modernisation in order to make the decision-making processes at the level of universities and faculties more flexible. This review of the management system is also the subject of the program statement of the Government of the Slovak Republic for the period 2020-2024.
The reform of universities introduces a number of changes, among the most fundamental are:
- More teachers with experience from practice and abroad
- Students and teachers will be allowed greater mobility and the connection between the academic community and the external environment will be strengthened
- More transparent election of the rector
- Shorter study for external study students
- Autonomy of higher education institutions in the possibility to organize their faculties as needed
- Financing of universities based on performance contracts
- Students will have a stronger say and competence in the academic field
- The best high school graduates will have the opportunity to receive an incentive scholarship for the entire level of higher education in Slovakia
The amendment to the Higher Education Act entered into force on April 25, 2022.
Strategy for internationalisation of higher education until 2030
On December 8, 2021, the Government of the Slovak Republic approved the Strategy for the Internationalisation of Higher Education until 2030 (Stratégiu internacionalizácie vysokého školstva do roku 2030)(hereinafter referred to as the "Strategy"), which was developed by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports of the Slovak Republic.
The strategy sets goals and measures for increasing the quality of higher education through internationalisation, increasing the availability of international experience during university studies, and modernizing higher education in the context of internationalization.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports of the Slovak Republic developed a strategy based on the Implementation Plan of the National Programme for the Development of Education and Training (Implementačný plán Národného programu rozvoja výchovy a vzdelávania), the Programme Statement of the Government of the Slovak Republic (Programové vyhlásenie vlády SR) and the Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Slovak Republic (Plánu obnovy a odolnosti SR). A budget of €42,444,657 is planned for the implementation of the strategy in the period 2022-2026.
National action plan in the field of external quality assurance of universities
The Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education developed a National Action Plan in the field of external quality assurance of higher education institutions (Národný akčný plán v oblasti externého zabezpečovania kvality vysokých škôl).
The action plan is the output of the international project Supporting countries and their agencies to ensure the quality of higher education in achieving compliance with ESG 2015 (SEQA-ESG).
The action plan reflects current challenges in the field of external quality assurance and outlines priority areas and specific measures aimed at:
- harmonize the quality assurance system with ESG 2015 and help the Slovak Accreditation Agency for Higher Education,
- obtain membership in the European Association of Agencies for Quality Assurance in Higher Education and
- register in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR).
In the current phase of the implementation of the new quality assurance system, the following were identified as the most important challenges:
- explaining the principles and strengthening the internal systems of quality assurance at the universities of the Slovak Republic,
- the level of involvement of interested parties in quality assurance at universities,
- the quality of the activity of experts-assessors of external quality assurance of higher education,
- ensure the efficient operation of the agency,
- building trust.
In order to achieve results in the mentioned priority areas, actions, goals expressed by measurable indicators, time frame and responsibility are established. During the years 2021 and 2022, the Ministry and especially the Agency are expected to implement several important measures. The agency started its activities in 2019 and is gradually creating and implementing its internal processes and, at the same time, processes for evaluating the activities of universities.
Considering the current situation, the emphasis within the action plan was mainly focused on increasing the efficiency of the agency's activities and improving the agency's processes to the level necessary for a functional external quality assurance system.