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Bulgarian students celebrate, but also call for changes in organisation of educational process

According to ESU members, online learning has proven its effectiveness but should be combined with in-presence education

Photo: Ani Petrova

Nearly 200,000 people study in 52 universities in Bulgaria in hundreds of different majors. As tradition dictates, December 8 is a day of celebration for all of them.

Brief history of the holiday

The idea to have a special holiday in Bulgaria, dedicated to university students, belongs to Bulgarian Minister of Education Prof. Ivan Shishmanov and dates back to the distant 1897. The Academic Council of the oldest university in this country - Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", decided that the holiday should coincide with the day of the saint - November 25. After Bulgaria switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1916, the students’ holiday was moved to the date it is associated with today - December 8.

Students during times of pandemic

In the past two years higher education in Bulgaria had to undergo a significant transformation. In the beginning of the pandemic some of the universities in this country were not fully prepared to conduct lectures remotely, but these days online learning has been going on according to plan. However, there are calls for the normalization of the learning process. Restoration of in-person learning is also a major goal for the new leadership of the European Students' Union (ESU). One of its members is Bulgarian Stanimir Boyadzhiev.

"I was the only candidate nominated by the National Assembly of Students’ Councils of Bulgaria, which has been a full member of the ESU for over 12 years. I was entrusted leading work in two of the main areas - the Erasmus+ program and students’ mobility and academic integrity. This is a new topic for the students’ community. It refers to issues related to intellectual property, plagiarism and the possibility for students to be part of various commissions in educational institutions, including in ministries and other structures at national level," Stanimir Boyadzhiev has told Radio Bulgaria.

"Returning to in-presence learning must take place after ensuring the necessary safety," Boyadzhiev says. However, the forms of training should undergo some changes.

"We are to work for the introduction of the so-called blended mobility, which is a combination of in-presence and online learning.” Stanimir Boyadzhiev says.

He and the other members of the European Students’ Council work mainly online and are not tied to a standard working day schedule. In addition to the ESU General Assemblies, which take place in the spring and autumn, its members from 45 national students’ unions across Europe hold a series of internal seminars and trainings on various topics. Most often they are related to student life and practices in higher education that are applied in different countries.

"It is good that the European community of students is united in this organization and that the ESU can help in solving regional issues," Stanimir Boyadzhiev says, giving examples of good practices from Western Europe, where some countries have provided assistance to students in the form of various grants. “Such a thing did not happen in Eastern Europe. We are also witnessing the different living conditions that students face in different countries. The ESU has mechanisms to put these issues on the agenda of European or national institutions."

On the occasion of today's holiday, Stanimir's wish to all former, current and future students is to stand up for their goals and follow their dreams, no matter the obstacles.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: Ani Petrova, Facebook/ Stanimir Boyadzhiev, BGNES

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