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Bulgarian universities become more visible on the higher education market

Photo: softuni.bg

Studying at the most prestigious higher education establishments in different countries of the EU simultaneously is something which is already fact. It is made possible thanks to the European Universities Initiative, co-developed by higher education institutions, student organisations, member states and the European Commission.

Five Bulgarian higher education institutions, approved in 2020, were recently included in the European University Networks. They are: Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, the University for National and World Economy, New Bulgarian University, Technical University, Sofia and University of Agribusiness and Rural Development, Plovdiv.

“Bulgarian higher education establishments were active, especially during the second stage of applying for the initiative which is financed under the Erasmus programme,” comments Minister of Education Krasimir Valchev. 

The programme’s budget is 120 million euro. With the approval of 24 new alliances of European universities, their number has now reached 41.

“We live in a world which is growing more and more open to travel, an increasingly globalised world,” says Minister Valchev. “We are all consuming more and more of the leading world brands. It is the same thing with university education – it is a globalising market. The majority of the students want to study at the biggest higher education institutions with the best reputation, but 90% of the higher education establishments in the world are small.”

This is the reason why, at a meeting in Gothenburg at the end of 2017, the European leaders took the decision to create a single European education area, part of which is the European University Networks initiative. The financial support for the initiative, provided by the EU, amounts to 287 million euro. Besides the funding under the Erasmus+ programme, at the initiative of Bulgaria’s European commissioner Mariya Gabriel additional financing was provided under the Horizon Programme for research and innovation.

“The universities of Europe aren’t going to be universities consisting of higher education institutions inside one campus, like American universities, for example,” Krasimir Valchev explains and adds: “They will be universities with a network approach, with the same programmes, the same diplomas, but located in different countries. A Bulgarian student will be able to study, simultaneously, in the Netherlands, and in Bulgaria, Poland, Spain, for several months in each. This is actually happening now, under the Erasmus programme, but the European University Networks are a higher form of integration.”

In the words of the education minister this will give all European students better opportunities in education.

“For Bulgarian higher education establishments this initiative is a chance to become visible on the market, to be integrated into a common European education area, to attract more students from Europe, and also from neighbouring, non-EU countries. The differences between small and big universities will deepen, and international exchange will grow.”

In Minister Valchev’s words, in this regard there is a positive tendency in Bulgaria – in the past 25 years the number of foreign university students has doubled.

Interview by Nina Tsaneva, Hristo Botev channel, BNR

Editing by Darina Grigorova

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