Branches of study
All short-cycle higher vocational education programmes are two-year programmes (120 credits). As specified by the Decree on the introduction and use of classification system of education and training (sl), they are classified at the level 6/1. The Decree and SOK specify the outcomes of higher vocational studies with knowledge descriptors, skills and competences more or less the same.
Knowledge: Graduates gain vocational and theoretical knowledge in certain fields and the practical knowledge to independently solve concrete technical problems. This includes theoretical concepts and abstract thinking. Deeply-rooted technical knowledge in established fields aids in students' development, in terms of solving the most demanding of problems in their work procedures.
Skills: Graduates exhibit extensive skills within their areas of speciality. This includes the use of the appropriate tools connected to the field of education and qualifications. They also receive the skills necessary to execute demanding operational and technical tasks associated with the preparation and control of work processes, especially the organization and management of work processes.
Competences: Graduates are qualified to work in various environments. In terms of individual problem solving in their professional field, creativity, theoretical concepts and specialized skills are required. Independent work often requires accepting responsibility for the work of others or organizing and redistributing sources. They may also join various highly skilled working teams. Graduates recognize their own educational needs. They are capable of evaluating the results of their own study in a structured learning environment. They assist others to identify learning needs.
The descriptors by the Decree and SOK correspond to the descriptors of anticipated knowledge, skills and competences as to the qualifications by short programmes at level 5 in the European Qualifications Framework (EOK).
In the 2015/16 school year, higher vocational education programmes have been carried out in the following areas:
- art and humanities;
- social sciences, business, administration, management and law;
- natural sciences, mathematics and computer science;
- engineering, production technology and construction;
- agriculture, forestry, fishing industry, veterinary technology;
- health and social services; and
- various services.
The the Higher vocational education Act (sl) specifies the general admission requirements. The candidates have to have a certificate of general matura or the vocational matura. Candidates with vocational qualification of mojster (master), foreman or shop manager may continue to short-cycle higher vocational education, but they have to have at least 3 years of working experience and a certificate of passing general subjects in vocational matura.
The study programmes specify specific or additional enrolment requirements. It may specify certain talents, skills and psychophysical abilities required for a successful following of certain occupation.
The Enrolment in higher vocational colleges Rules (sl) specify the contents and announcement of the call to enrol, as well as procedures and deadlines for registration and enrolment in vocational colleges. Enrolment in officially recognised higher vocational education programmes is via common public call. Places will be announced at least six months before the start of the new school year.
For citizens of the Republic of Slovenia and EU member countries, the total number of vacancies is made public. These vacancies include places open to candidates who are not Slovenian citizens, but who have permanent residence in Slovenia and are liable for taxation. Higher vocational colleges may also announce vacancies for Slovenians without Slovenian citizenship and foreigners.
Following improper enrolment in higher vocational colleges only to acquire the status of a student and the right to social transfers extended by the status, the new law of 2013 limited the option of full-time study for candidates who had had the status for two years. Public schools receive a consensus by the minister of education before they announce the call for applications. In the case of private higher vocational colleges, the maximum number of vacancies allowed is specified by the decision on the entry in the register of higher vocational colleges at the Ministry of education, science and sport. Every vacancy has to guarantee practical training to students and this has to be specified in the contract between the college and the employers registered at the competent chamber.
Candidates apply to a vocational college by sending an application to the common short-cycle higher education registration service. In the application, students list higher vocational colleges or study programmes in order of preference. They may apply for three study programmes at most. Study programmes listed in the second and third place are considered if a decision to limit the enrolment in the candidate's first selection programme is adopted.
If the number of applications surpasses the vacancies, the respective schools may either increase this number or limit enrolment. Public schools have to acquire the consensus by the minister of education under the decision on the expansion or limitation of applications. Should the number of applications be limited, schools respect the selection criteria specified by the study programme. Taken into consideration are outcomes of matura and outcomes of the last two upper-secondary years. The grades acquired from individual high school subjects or examinations may also be considered. Candidates who completed upper secondary school by taking examinations alone have their examination results and proof of their working experience taken into consideration.
As specified by law, the publicly recognized qualification is obtained by means of short-cycle higher vocational education study programmes adopted through the prescribed processes. All short-cycle higher education institutions, both public and private, have to be accredited and entered in the Register of providers of officially recognised short-cycle higher vocational education study programmes (sl) with the Ministry of education, science and sport. The professional boards of higher vocational colleges and the Association of Higher Vocational Colleges play an important role in their development. A proposal of the programme is developed and submitted to the accreditation process, namely in collaboration with the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Trainin (CPI) and their social service partners.
The programmes of higher vocational colleges are defined by the Council of Experts for Vocational and Technical Education (sl) and approved by the minister of education. The programmes of private schools may be developed and approved by the institution itself. Such schools must also be accredited in the procedure as specified by the Organisation and financing of education Act, namely by the relevant council of experts. The council of experts verifies if the programmes provide equal standard as defined by the Basic premise of short-cycle higher vocational education programmes (sl). However, many of the private higher vocational colleges in Slovenia carry out public programmes, which are, ultimately, accepted by the minister of education (only two private colleges adopted own study programmes and got the consents of the relevant council of experts.
The content of the programmes is dictated by the vocational standards, which are developed and completed by employers and accepted by the Minister of Labour. All higher vocational study programmes has to have premise in one or several must vocational standards. A programme that provides qualification for several occupations has a modular structure. In each module the student may get vocational qualifications, and the study programme as such provides qualification for all occupations specified by the vocational standards, premise of the study programme.
Short-cycle higher vocational education study programmes have general and specific divisions.
- name of the programme
- programme basic goals or definition of general and vocational competences
- duration of the studies
- admission requirements and selection criteria in cases of limited enrolment
- compulsory methods of knowledge assessment
- method and forms of study provision
- requirements to progress through the programme and complete studies
- programme components that require student presence (practical classes, seminars etc.)
- requirements to transfer among programmes
- requirements for completing individual sections of the programme, if relevant
- information about international comparability of programmes
- information about links to programmes of other schools in the common European higher vocational education, as well as
- title of professional qualification awarded after completing one's studies and its abbreviated form.
- subject curriculum and study obligations in ECTS, of compulsory general and technical subjects, practical components as well as a selection of options
- catalogue of knowledge by subject, and
- knowledge required for the education staff by subject.
Teachers in higher vocational colleges plan, in their professional bodies, modernisation of programmes and supplementary contents, as well as extra-curricular activities. They also shape the rules of how to adapt the study provision for the special needs students.
The school year consists of min. 34 weeks of education, including 24 weeks of lectures, seminars and laboratory training in school and 10 weeks of practical education with an employer or in intercompany education centres. Students can take min. 20 lessons and practical training and max. 40 lessons per week. More detailed layouts of education, off days and student holidays are defined by the head of the higher vocational college.
Additional higher vocational programmes
Higher vocational colleges may provide joint higher vocational education study programmes. They are developed in collaboration with other domestic or non-domestic colleges and according basic premise of short-cycle higher vocational education programmes (sl) and common European principles of short programmes in short-cycle higher vocational education.
The higher vocational colleges provide also non-degree advanced study programmes of 10 to 30 credits. Such programmes are intended to improve, advance, update and deepen the knowledge of higher vocational college graduates.
Adjusting programmes according to student requirements
As specified by law, higher vocational colleges accommodate part-time students in the organization and span of their education. Part-time students must be able to complete all of their study obligations necessary to receive credits as would full-time students. Higher vocational colleges abide by the Guidelines for flexible part-time study in short-cycle higher vocational education in when organizing flexible study options accepted by the Council for Vocational and Professional Education of the Republic of Slovenia (sl). The guidelines recommend that the executed programmes be three years in duration at most. This depends on the ascertained foreknowledge and experience of part-time students and the layout of organized and individual study.
Higher vocational colleges may organize studies such as fieldwork or project work, collective or individual consultations, workshops, arrange examination preparation courses, tutoring, the defence of seminar papers, mentoring, guided e-classes, e-class group meetings or long distance studies and so on. Part-time students and colleges can also agree upon individual education plans. Students with special needs have the organization of their studies and evaluation adjusted according to the regulations accepted by the head of the college assembly.
Language of study
The language of study in short-cycle higher education institutions is Slovenian. The law allows for schools to carry out lessons in foreign languages as:
- part of the study programme if there is sufficient student interest and if guest lecturers give lessons;
- full study programme if it is also carried out in Slovenian.
Foreigners and Slovenes without Slovenian citizenship are given the opportunity to attend Slovenian language classes.
The legal provision specifying that all short-cycle higher vocational study programmes have to have premise in vocational standards is key for guaranteeing employability. Knowledge catalogues in study programme have to be founded on vocational standards that define vocational profiles. The development of the vocational standards is the responsibility of chambers and regional boards of employers, both whom provide the initiative for the development of occupational standards to the CPI. CPI develops proposals and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities accepts them. Vocational associations, trade unions, various ministries and the relevant council participate in the process. This arrangement ensures the strongest possible link between study programmes and employability of graduates.
Important element of employability is the extent of practical lessons within the study programme. Students complete the practical side of their studies at a workplace with an employer, 400 hours per year. The colleges sign appropriate contracts with employers even before the call for enrolment. Employers are directly involved in the practical training. The study obligations of the students (seminar papers, projects, fieldwork training and thesis papers) are normally tightly linked to the interests of employers. The employer appoints a mentor to student. The mentor then works together with the lecturer of practical lessons. The diploma work is usually done during practical training with the employer in the second years of studies.
The employers exercise their influence through their representatives in the councils of public schools, strategic councils, administration boards of private schools (commercial companies), quality assurance bodies, the Accreditation commission for higher vocational study programme (sl), and in the relevant council.
Teachers in higher vocational colleges are independent in their choice of teaching methods and learning material. The presumption is that their choice of appropriate methods is well founded. Their methodological and didactic qualifications are the responsibility of the Faculty of Arts Pedagogical Education Centre of the University of Ljubljana.
The programme of pedagogical-andragogical training for lecturers in higher vocational colleges (1999) has been run since 2000/2001. In 2013, the relevant authority approved the new programme for continuous training of higher vocational college lecturers of 30 ECTS. The training is mandatory for lecturers in higher vocational colleges. There are also summer and winter courses in the didactics of higher education available. The new law of 2013 specifies that lecturers who are not in employment relationship in education but participate in the study process under an agreement do not have to hold a pedagogical-andragogical qualification. They have to prove in the process of accreditation that their pedagogical practice is successful at higher vocational college or in education of adults.
Teachers in higher vocational colleges may also take courses on how to apply various forms of e-teaching, use e-classrooms and modern teaching methods which make use of electronic media (creating e-material, encouraging active learning in the e-classrooms, the use of videoconferences in e-classrooms) to be able to ensure successful communication during lectures, training, seminars and assessment short-cycle higher vocational education and higher education.
Teachers in higher vocational colleges choose learning material for students at their own discretion. Generally, the learning material is developed by professionals in the field or subject matter, among them often being many higher vocational teachers. The authors evaluate the learning material in peer groups. If the development of learning material is state co-funded, the authors consult the relevant council of experts. The council of experts has issued a non-binding recommendation on the desired quality of learning material in short-cycle higher vocational education.
By and large students buy the learning material or they borrow it from the school library.
Progression of students
The law dictates the primary regulations for the progression of students. Students may continue into the second year if they have fulfilled all of their study obligations, determined by the study programme, by the end of the school year. Part-time students may have their study obligations organised differently.
Those students who have successfully completed at least a third of their study obligations or have acquired 20 credits are allowed to repeat the school year once. Only students who were not able to fulfill their obligations due to illness, parenthood, or exceptional social and family circumstances have the right to repeat a year more than once.
Students who do not fulfill the requirements for progression to the next year of study lose their full time student status. In this case, the next three years of study may be finalized by means of completing payable examinations according to the study programme in question. Should a student continue to fail in their efforts and the programme changes during this time, the student must then successfully complete bridging exams, decided upon by the school.
Students may progress and complete their studies sooner as defined by the study programme. This is taken by the school study committee.
If the study programme is of a modular design, students may choose to complete only one of them. This allows them to gain the vocational qualification through the process as specified by the National vocational qualifications Act. With this qualification they may compete on the labour market.
The rules (sl) dictate that student knowledge be assessed in individual subjects and other components of the study programme by means of examinations, laboratory and practical work and seminar papers. Students may also be assessed on their graphical and technical works, project work, presentations, and certain services and so on.
Assessment can be either written or oral. Students are immediately informed of the grade in oral exam, while grades of written examinations are posted within 10 days of the said exam. Students also have the right to receive insight into assessed written assignment. The final exam for each subject may be taken up to three times during the school year. Any complaints or objections to a particular grade must be taken up with the principal of the school. The principal nominates a commission to reassess the student's knowledge. The lecturer who originally assessed the student cannot be a part of the commission.
More detailed methods and procedures on assessing knowledge, examination regulations, the storage of records and documentation and the form and content of official documents are prescribed by the education minister. The assessment of knowledge verifies the completion of the student's study obligations. The final grade indicates the student's mastery of their vocational and general competences. Examination units recorded in a student's index include:
- laboratory and seminar training
- practical education.
Before the end of one's studies, an obligatory diploma examination, consisting of the composition of a diploma work and its official defence. The diploma work must be the result of the individual professional endeavour by the student. The student proves that he or she knows how to apply the theoretical knowledge to a practical example. The theme of the diploma work must cover all fields of the student's study programme. As a rule, the student develops and completed the diploma work during practical training in the second year of studies and links the work to that training.
The knowledge demonstrated at final examinations, diploma examinations, tutorials, seminar work and during practical lessons is graded numerically: (10) excellent, (9 and 8) very good, (7) good, (6) satisfactory and (1–5) unsatisfactory. The grades 1–5 are negative and they are not entered in the grade index and certificate of passed examination; other grades are positive. The students' knowledge is assessed by lecturers, each for their own respective subject. The instructors that lead the tutorials are responsible for the tutorial evaluation process.
The assessment of practical education is carried out by the lecturer organizing practical education. Students also receive written comments from their mentor who is responsible for their training with their employer. Also consulted, is the lecturer of the modules to which the practical education is connected.
The knowledge of students who do not successfully complete a particular examination in their third attempt is then assessed by an examination committee, appointed by the head teacher which consists of at least two lecturers.
The completion of tutorials and seminar papers or various products of student work can be selected as a requirement to successfully complete a final examination. The grades achieved during partial examinations, individual work and seminar papers are taken into consideration with the calculation of the final overall grade. If each portion is assessed positively, the final grade is calculated from the marks achieved in each subject to provide a student's final grade average.
The final grade awarded at the completion of the diploma examination is calculated from the positive marks received for each individual portion of the diploma examination. The diploma paper and diploma defence are given precedence as far as assessment is concerned. The criteria for the determination of the final grade is in the competence of the professional body of the college. The diploma examinations are public. The examination committee, selected by the head teacher and consisting of three internal lecturers, assesses the knowledge exhibited by the student during the diploma examination.
The school recognizes the students’ grade achieved at other schools or in non-formal learning. Also recognized are their credits, which are prescribed for the examination unit. With the recognition of informally acquired knowledge, the college takes into consideration certificates, documents, and products of the students’ work, publications, and so forth. Schools themselves determine the detailed criteria for recognition on the basis of guidelines and recommendations of the Accreditation commission for short-cycle higher vocational education study programmes. The procedure is directed by the school's study commission. They assess supporting documents, conduct interviews, and execute practical tests or demonstrations as well as oral or written examinations.
Higher vocational colleges award diplomas in accordance with the higher vocational education law (sl) and the professional and academic titles law (sl). The minister of education specifies the content and the design of the diploma. It includes the name of the higher technical educational qualification drawn from the name of the higher vocational study programme. If, for example, the programme is officially titled “economy”, the diploma specifies the title of higher vocational educational qualification, in this case “economist” (economist) or its abbreviated form “ekon”.
In the technical, biotechnical and technological education, the title drawn from the study programme included the word “inženir” or “inž.” (Engineer) and “tehnolog” or “technl.” (Technologist).
In addition to the diploma, students also receive a diploma supplement. It contains information about:
- graduate’s higher vocational educational qualification
- type and level of education
- studies and the graduate’s success
- opportunities of continuing the study and employment, and
- other information deemed pertinent by the college.
The higher vocational education has established e-education, as well. It has developed from its “predecessor”, the long distance education. Higher vocational colleges use it mostly in individual elements to supplement the organized study or to combine education in lecture halls and by means of e-mail. They use ICT as a means of communication and as the medium for learning material.
There is an increase in the number of higher vocational colleges, especially private institutions, which provide programmes in the form of e-education. In these programmes, ICT is integral to the overall learning process and supported by open interactive learning material.
The new law on higher vocational education as of 2013 specifies that the starting points for the development of short-cycle higher vocational education study programmes shall include the minimum requirements the colleges have to meet in order to be able to provide distant education. The colleges have to set up proper supervision protocols for knowledge examinations.