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Higher education funding


3.Funding in education

3.2Higher education funding

Last update: 18 March 2024


Short-cycle higher education

The Organisation and Financing of Education Act and the Rules on norms for financing higher vocational colleges specify the funding of higher vocational colleges (HVCs). Funding sources and relevant basic rules are consistent with those that apply to upper secondary schools.

The Ministry responsible for education spends funds for:

  • School’s work-related expenses
  • Expenses for programmes
  • Costs for maintenance of facilities and buildings, and
  • Management and development.

The Ministry responsible for education enters into a funding agreement with HVCs for the next fiscal year. The agreement-based funding aims to support quality and efficient education, as well as improve the efficiency of studies, and achieve study goals. 

Annual funding of study programmes is calculated on the annual base price of cost per student (specified by the minister for the upcoming year), and the number of full-time year 2 students, graduates, and students in the study programme.

Work-related expenses include staff salaries, cost of goods and services, and other activities (development, international cooperation). The state provides funds also for activities of the Association of HVCs, common registration services, and development and counselling provided by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for vocational education and training.

Higher education

Funding higher education institutions (HEIs) is broadly specified by the Higher Education Act. By law, HEIs can draw on funds from various sources, including the budget of the Republic of Slovenia, student fees and other contributions, services, donations, inheritances, gifts, etc. 

The state provides funds for:

  • Study activities of full-time students in cycle 1 and 2 study programmes at public HEIs and private HEIs for study programmes under a concession contract
  • Study-related interest activities as specified with the annual programme by the Student council of a public HEI and private HEI for study programmes under a concession contract
  • Investment and major repair, equipment of public HEIs and public residence halls of public HEIs
  • Operations, investment, major repairs and equipment of university libraries and the Central Technical Library at the University of Ljubljana, and
  • Nationally significant activities in higher education.

The state can also fund the cycle 3 study programmes at public HEIs. It is the decision of the minister responsible for higher education. It relies on the number of graduates in cycle 3 study programmes over the last five years.

The state can also part-fund:

  • Activities for the development of HEIs with officially recognised study programmes
  • Other activities or aims specified by law.

The state also earmarks funds for Slovenian language classes at universities abroad, Slovenian language lessons for foreigners, nationally significant projects (e.g., operations of the Higher Education Application and Information Service), and subsidised accommodation and transportation for students.

Research work is funded by special regulations.

Private HEIs with no study programmes under concession contracts can enter co-funding competitions with development projects.

HEIs can charge fees for part-time studies and non-state-funded study programmes. The fees and other payments (costs related to field study activities and study excursions, payments for individual services) must be set by the relevant rules on fees in higher education. Public institutions and institutions under a concession contract are not allowed to charge fees for studies in full-time accredited study programmes to citizens of the Republic of Slovenia and citizens of EU member states.

The International Association of Universities, with its head office in the Republic of Slovenia (currently, there is one association), receive funds under a special budget item.

State funding for public universities and those under concession contracts, as well as independent HEIs, is regulated by the Decree on the public funding for higher education institutions and other institutions.

Study activities: cycle 1 and 2 study programmes and related research, artistic and professional activities; library, information, administrative and other infrastructure activities. Funds for study activities are allocated as integrated funds for a university (lump sum funding) or independent HEI. The funds are determined once per annum by a ministerial order and deposited every month into the institution's account.

Extra-curricular activities: university sports activities and study-related interest activities.

Funds for HEI’s investments are set by the annual plan for the tangible assets management and the state budget adopted. Funding for major repairs and equipment is decided by the minister responsible for higher education according to the relevant criteria.

Funds of the funding pillar for development are allocated for activities to promote variety, international cooperation and quality, as well as the social dimension of studies. Funding is awarded through annual public tenders.

By law, the state can also co-fund doctoral studies according to the Decree on the co-funding of doctoral studies.

The co-funding of doctoral studies is allocated also through young researcher plans managed by the competent agency.

The state co-funding is allocated also for the accommodation of students in public and private institutions, as well as other legal persons registered for the activities of residence halls. Via the latter, co-funding can be provided also for accommodation with private persons and room owners.

By law, the funds for research and development activities are allocated from the state and other sources. It involves funding for research and infrastructure programmes, research and development projects, training and development of research and development experts; international scientific and technological cooperation; funding scientific publications and communications, and other purposes.

Financial autonomy and control

Short-cycle higher education

HVCs have relative autonomy and responsibility. They develop their operation and development programmes two years in advance and report to the Ministry responsible for education about the implementation of those programmes at the end of each fiscal year. They specify the organisation of study work, study groups and other activities of the academic year, as well as their development trends in an annual work plan. They are not allowed to exceed the imposed or defined daily and weekly study workload per student. They are required to comply with all other regulations relating to the size of student groups, methods of studies, health and safety.

The college administration approves the respective development programme and the annual work plan and reports on its implementation; makes decisions about the introduction of over-standard programmes and other programmes; and adopts the college financial plan and annual financial statement. The headteacher is responsible for the abovementioned documents and for the implementation.

The Association of HVCs is responsible for the development of higher vocational education, the development of graduate employment programmes and employment follow-up, cooperation with the council of experts, the committee for accreditation of higher vocational education programmes, employers, ministries, and higher education, as well as with international associations.

Financial supervision of the spending of earmarked funds is the responsibility of the Ministry responsible for education. It examines annual financial reports submitted by HVCs. Supervision of compliance with the law is the responsibility of the school inspectorate. Respect for student rights in the on-the-job training is supervised by the labour inspectorate. The Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia monitors the spending of public funds.

Higher education

With the lump sum system, HEIs have significant financial autonomy. A tertiary education institution distributes its annual funding for study-related activities according to its own rules, which it is required to inform the Ministry responsible for education about. Monitoring and supervision of the spending of earmarked funds is the responsibility of the Budget Supervision Office of the Republic of Slovenia and the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia.

By financial regulations (and the detailed guidelines of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry responsible for higher education), HEIs develop annual work programmes consisting of the work programme and the financial plan. HEIs also prepare an annual report on the implemented work consisting of the balance sheet, statement of revenue and expenditures, notes to the accounts and the business report. The annual report and the annual work programme must be published on the HEI’s website.

Fees within public higher education

Higher vocational colleges (HVCs)

Public HVCs and private HVCs under concession contracts cannot charge fees to full-time students. Fees may only be charged for not non-state-funded study programmes and part-time studies. At enrolment, students pay an enrolment fee, primarily to cover costs of study materials, class book and examination materials, protective clothing and uniforms, trips and fieldwork. The minister responsible for education defines the max. price for services that HVCs can charge to students.

Part-time students of short-cycle higher study programmes pay up to €15,000 in fees per year for cycle 1 and 2 study programmes. Fees for two-year study programmes amount from €1,000 to €3,200 (National Student Fee and Support Systems in European Higher Education, 2022/2023) 

Higher education institutions (HEIs)

The nationals of the Republic of Slovenia do not pay fees, unless for:

  • Full-time cycle 1 and 2 study programmes at public and private HEIs under a concession contract if students have an educational qualification equal to at least the level they are enrolling, or students have no educational qualification equal to at least the relevant level but have lost the status of HE student in the first study programme
  • Full-time cycle 1 and 2 study programmes not under a concession contract at private HEIs
  • Part-time cycle 1 and 2 study programmes 
  • Cycle 3 study programmes, and
  • Supplementary study programmes.

Students pay fees for cycle 3 study programmes at public HEIs if no state co-funding is allocated as specified by law.

Foreigners and Slovenian nationals without Slovenian citizenship pay fees as specified by relevant rules.

The fees are determined by the relevant rules issued by the minister. The rules specify the calculation of costs for all study programmes. It is based on:

  • Cost of salaries, including contributions and other employer’s duties, and other personal income by law
  • Material cost, including expenses for goods and services, and
  • Depreciation of relevant equipment and facilities.

The calculation is based on elements or costs for which the resources are not public.

Fees are paid per academic year. Fees for supplementary study programmes are paid per duration.

Public HEIs charge students in full-time and part-time studies for:

  • Cost of further exams of the same subjects as specified by the HEI's rules
  • Cost of commission exams
  • Cost of field study activities and study excursions (transport, residence...)
  • Membership fees for HE libraries
  • Other contributions related to studies, but not necessarily linked to the provision (use of IT equipment, interest activities…).

Students can also have a deposit for eventual indemnities provided.

Public HEIs cannot charge enrolment costs (cost of selection procedures, enrolment documentation, class book, student ID…) 

Private HEIs can charge enrolment costs (costs of selection procedures, student ID cards, enrolment documentation…).

The contributions charged can only amount to the real material cost of HEIs.

Financial support for learners' families

For details see Benefits.

Financial support for learners

Accommodation of HVC students in residence halls for upper secondary students and transportation subsidies are specified similarly as for upper secondary school students. State subsidies for accommodation in residence halls for upper secondary students are also available to HVC students. The transportation subsidies are available to them under the same conditions as for upper secondary students.

Higher education students are entitled to state-subsidised accommodation in institutions registered for the provision of student accommodation and with private room owners. The subsidies depend on the student's performance, economic situation, distance from home, and the student's social and health situation. Subsidies may be granted to companions of disabled students, the student's partner if they have a child, and to the student’s child. The subsidy totals min. 20 % of the average monthly living costs. Subsidies are granted for 12 months or 10 months per year in the event of residence with private room owners. They are calculated per academic year. The transportation subsidies are specified by the Road Transport Act. The right is reserved only for students and adult learners who reside at least 2 km away from the education institution. The subsidised fares are for those beneficiaries who are on a daily commute to the place of education. The transportation subsidies are within the realm of the Ministry responsible for Transport.

By the rules on subsidizing student meals, within the realm of the Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities), the persons enrolled in HVCs and HEIs in the Republic of Slovenia with student status and not employed are entitled to subsidised student meals. Beneficiaries also include students from foreign universities who reside in the Republic of Slovenia on international exchange programmes. The beneficiaries are entitled to one subsidised meal per working day, whereas students with special needs and students who are already parents are entitled to ten additional meals per month. Children of students are also entitled to subsidised meals. In the 2023/2024 academic year, the subsidy was €3.86 a meal.

As specified by the Scholarship Act (within the realm of the Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and the Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia) students can apply or compete for the following scholarships:

  • Need-based state scholarships (financially disadvantaged students)
  • Employer scholarships (to attain qualifications for specific occupations)
  • Merit-based Zois scholarships (talented students)
  • Scholarships for shortage occupations
  • Scholarships for Slovenian national minorities in neighbouring countries and Slovenians abroad, and
  • AD Futura scholarships (for education abroad, study visits, competitions abroad).

Most scholarships awarded are need-based scholarships, followed by merit-based Zois scholarships and employer scholarships. The proportion of other scholarships is less significant. In 2021/2022, 46.7 % of full-time students in cycle 1 and 24.3 % in cycle 2 study programmes were need-based scholarship recipients.

The underage upper secondary students can also apply for need-based state scholarships. 

Recipients can combine scholarships and thereby, receive a higher final amount. The flexible system aims to encourage individuals to take a more active approach to planning their education and/or professional careers.

Scholarships are offered to students in cycle 1 and 2 study programmes. Students in cycle 3 study programmes can apply for the Ad Futura scholarships that support international mobility.

International mobility is of particular importance for the internationalisation of Slovenian higher education. It is declared in all strategic documents and the Resolution on the National Programme of Higher Education. There are special funds allocated to support the mobility of students and lecturers.

Special scholarships are available from the Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia, for example, to cover the fees of undergraduate or postgraduate studies, living costs and other study costs. This fund may also be used to finance short-term research cooperation and participation of Slovenian doctoral students abroad, short study trips abroad, namely for the part of a study programme obligation that is recognised at the Slovenian HEI, as well as for pedagogical or research contributions of visiting scholars (lecturers or researchers) at universities or research institutions in Slovenia.

The government and Zois scholarships may be transferred to the study abroad (in these cases, they are higher, as a rule); the same is true for scholarships given by employers that may be in part state-funded and the European Social Fund as part of uniform regional schemes through unified regional schemes via common regional schemes. The most funds for the mobility of students and lecturers come from the EU programmes, primarily from the Erasmus+ and CEEPUS, as well as other bilateral agreements.

You can find more data on student fees and support in Slovenia in the Eurydice annual report National Student Fee and Support Systems in European Higher Education 2022/2023 which provides a comparative overview of which students pay fees, how much they pay, and what extent they receive financial support during their studies. Individual country sheets outline the main elements of national systems. While attention mostly focuses on first and second-cycle full-time students, it also shows data for short-cycle students.

Private education

Short-cycle higher vocational education

Most private vocational colleges are financed by private funds, that is, fees. Such schools have the status of private institutions and as such make their own funding decisions. The law poses only the following restrictions:

  • Minimal staffing requirements to start providing services
  • Programme accreditation
  • Consent from the Council of Experts for Lecturers (licence), and
  • Entry in the register of schools at the Ministry responsible for Education.

HVCs funded by school fees only provide only part-time studies. Fees are lower than the programme cost per student that would apply to full-time study. Students commonly pay in instalments. Part-time students not in employment or registered job seekers have the right to health insurance and other benefits (e.g., meals, transport, scholarships).

In the 2023/2024 academic year, there were two private HVCs under a concession contract for two study programmes. The latter are funded the same as study programmes at public HVCs.

Higher education

By law, higher education study programmes can be implemented by private HEIs. Their establishment and operations are specified by separate laws. Study programmes must be accredited. In the same way, as for public HEIs, internal and external evaluations take place, and the same rules apply to students and teaching faculty. The only difference is the method of funding. Private HEIs under a concession contract for study programmes receive public funds to finance study and extra-curricular activities. They are not eligible for funding of investments and major repairs; however, they can enter funding competitions with development projects. This is also open to private HEIs not under a concession contract.