Slovenian higher education consists of short-cycle higher vocational education (2-year programmes) and higher education (3 or 4 years of bachelor – first cycle, 1 or 2 years of master – second cycle and 3 years of doctoral programme – third cycle, PhD). Higher education studies are organised by both public (University of Ljubljana, University of Maribor, University of Primorska) and private universities (University of Nova Gorica), and other higher education institutions, namely at faculties, art academies, and higher vocational colleges. Universities, faculties, and art academies provide study programmes of all cycles: bachelor, master and doctoral (PhD) level. Higher vocational colleges provide, as a rule, the first cycle programmes (undergraduate/bachelor). The main functions of the universities are education and scientific research and development.
Slovenia is a country in southern Central Europe bordering Italy to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north. Because Slovenia lies at the crossroads of the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain and the Dinaric Mountain Range, through the centuries, the individual Slovenian regions have developed various forms of economic activity, ways of life and cultural creativity. Slovenia has a population of 2 million people and the official language is Slovene. The capital of the country is Ljubljana, it is the largest city as well as the political, administrative, economic, educational and cultural centre of Slovenia.
Over the last fifteen years higher education in Slovenia has undergone several legislative and structural changes, rapid institutional development and a significant increase in student numbers.
The higher education reform in 2004 introduced a three-cycle structure according to the Bologna process guidelines. The first cycle has a binary system of academic and professional study programmes leading to the first cycle degree (180-240 ECTS, 3-4 years). The second-cycle offers masters courses (60-120 ECTS, 1-2 years). The third-cycle comprises doctoral studies (180 ECTS, 3 years).
Higher education institutions are universities, faculties, at academies and professional colleges. There are fifteen higher education institutions which cover all fields of study: three public universities (incorporating forty-one faculties, three art academies and four professional colleges) and twelve private higher education institutions (one university, five faculties and six professional colleges). Under certain conditions, private higher education institutions can also offer state recognised and co-financed courses.
The academic year begins in October and lasts until the end of September in the following year. It is divided into two semesters: the winter semester usually runs from October to January and the summer semester from February to the middle of July.