UNWE CLOSES ITS ECONOMIC COLLEGE
There are 41 state-owned and 14 private universities as well as nine independent colleges in Bulgaria. About 34,000 - 35,000 students get admission there every year. Their number will not change in the 2005/2006 academic year. Still, there will be serious displacement among the subjects. The number of first-year students of natural and computer subjects will grow by 10 to 20 per cent. On the other hand, the number of students accepted in pedagogical and economic subjects will fall by 4 per cent. The changes correspond to the needs of the labour market, experts from the Ministry of Education and Science comment. They are also in harmony with the recommendations of the European Union for building an economy based on knowledge. However, the students have not been precisely assigned to subjects and universities yet. By February 18, the universities submitted applications for their planned admission for the new academic year. The final structure will be known no sooner than end-May.Most probably a great number of the existing colleges will be closed or restructured in 2005 as it was recommended by experts from the World Bank. College graduates are given a specialist's degree which has no equivalent in Europe. Bachelor's and master's degrees are the only ones acknowledged abroad. The three-year college program may be transformed into four-year bachelor's course. But this can only be done by a resolution of the Council of Ministers.The University of National and World Economy (UNWE) is going to close its economic college. However, it will ask for raising the number of students admitted to the bachelor's degree courses instead. The university branches in Vratsa and Haskovo will not accept students, either, and will gradually transform into distant learning centres.There will be no longer correspondence courses in the UNWE. Moreover, students admitted in 2005 will study in an entirely changed scheme. Major economic subjects will be studied in the first two years and then the students will be allowed to choose their courses. Only in the fourth year will the education become specialized. The final specialisation will be during the fifth year of the master's course.The colleges to the Technical University in Sofia, Plovdiv, Dupnitsa, and Sliven will probably be closed, too. The University of Rousse and the Chemical and Technological University are considering the same move. Whether or not there will be a radical change in the system of university education has not been decided yet. Last December, the National Council at the National Movement Simeon II decided that corrections would be needed in order to harmonize the education with the European practice. Part of the bachelors will study three instead of four, five, or six years as they used so far. The length of the master's course may be extended from one to two years. The three-year system may be applied for humanitarian sciences and the arts only, but not for the engineering, law and medicine courses. The reform will hardly be implemented next year, though, because there is no time to amend the Public Education Act.It is certain that there will be changes in the medicine program in order to make it meet the EU requirements. Students in this course will sit for an additional exam in the form of a master's thesis during their fifth year of education.