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Bulgarian Minister Proclaims 'Sweeping' Reforms in Education, Science

Society » EDUCATION | September 20, 2010, Monday // 21:00| Views: 1968 | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Bulgarian Minister Proclaims 'Sweeping' Reforms in Education, Science (L-R) Education Minister Ignatov, US Ambassador Warlick, and EU Commissioner Georgieva at the opening of the academic year at UNWE. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Minister of Education and Science Sergey Ignatov has announced his intention for a new-type reform of the sectors that he is in charge of.

Speaking at the start of the academic year at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Ignatov surprised many by announcing there will be no new Higher Education Act, and that a much more far-reaching and in-depth reform was forthcoming.

"I believe that we all don't want to see Bulgaria as a place where the only employment is making pizzas and changing the sheets on the beds of the tourists. And even here the problem is that the sheets are not changed properly. We must finally create science and research and development parks together with the universities so that we can generate profit," Ignatov told the university students.

The minister made clear his intention to reform Bulgarian education simultaneously with Bulgarian science in order to provide for close cooperation between universities and scientific institutes.

"It is crucial that we should achieve the concentration of the financial and intellectual resources of the nation because they are being squandered at present," Ignatov said.

He explained that instead of a brand-new law for the higher education, his team will only propose amendments to the existing law in order to be able to concentrate on the wide-ranging reform he announced.

The new amendments will focus on improving the management, finances, and accreditation of the Bulgarian universities.

In October, the Ministry of Education intends to publish a ranking of the majors in Bulgarian universities, and the majors that enjoy higher interest and success rates, will get 10% more funding than the others.

The Ministry is analyzing the scientific capacities of the existing universities in the country, and plans to use this criteria upon the allocation of funding for each individual year.

"With our small but modern measures we hope to be able to unclog the system because I believe that regardless of the negativism with respect to the reforms, science and education will go hand in hand in Bulgaria some day, and there will be no such strong distinction between these two fields," Ignatov said.

In his words, one of the most important new measures will be to merge some of the existing universities in order to consolidate their resources. The Sofia Technical University and the Chemical and Metallurgy in Sofia have already expressed their desire to merge.

US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick, was also present at the UNWE ceremony, and thanked the students there for taking the decision to get their higher education in their home country. He did say that the fact the most competitive Bulgarian students pursue college careers abroad meant that the level of Bulgarian universities must go up.

"There is no reason the educational system in Bulgaria shouldn't be as competitive as are the systems in the USA and in other European states," Warlick said while congratulating Minister Ignatov for taking steps to improve the situation.

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Tags: Sergey Ignatov, Education Minister, research and development, science, Bulgarian Universities, Higher Education Act, higher education reform, higher education, James Warlick, US Ambassador
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