About Slovenian Student Union (SSU)
WHAT IS SSU?
Slovene Student Union (SSU) is a dedicated organisation encompassing all Slovenian students and aiming to meet the interests of more than 100.000 students of Slovenian faculties, academies, professional and vocational colleges as well as foreign institutions of higher education. Its history began with the 1994 Students Association Act, but it was only after the passing of the new Student Constitution in November 2002 that the idea to launch a uniform representation of students’ interests at the national level became a fully functional reality.
In accordance with the new Student Constitution, the SSU acts as an umbrella organisation comprising student organisations of universities, independent institutions of higher education and vocational colleges, local student organisations and interest-based student associations. Current members of the SSU are the following: Student Organisation of the University of Ljubljana, Student Organisation of the University of Maribor, Student clubs association of Slovenia and Student Organisation of the University of Primorska.
All SSU member organisations appoint their representatives to SSU bodies to ensure hands-on involvement and contribute to the development of the umbrella organisation while doing their best to meet the interests of students at the university or local level, whichever is applicable.
Being an umbrella organisation, the SSU focuses primarily on ensuring favourable studying conditions, streamlining accessibility to higher education, improving students’ social standing and developing a framework of non- and informal education. We accomplish the defined objectives particularly by being actively involved in the formulation of our national policy and programmes related to higher education, scholarships, student housing and employment. Another focal point of our activities is addressing both student health care issues and problems concerning employment of new graduates.
Resolving student-related issues is generally done in close cooperation with the Government’s Council for Student Issues and working parties under its authority. However, certain issues require us to join forces with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs.
University student organisations and student clubs within the SSU framework are responsible for ensuring that resolutions adopted within SSU are effectively, successfully and promptly transferred to and implemented at university and local levels respectively. At the same time we are teaming up with university student councils and other relevant student bodies and associations.
What We Do
The year 2004 has brought many sweeping changes to Slovenian higher education. We have witnessed the implementation of guidelines and provisions of the so-called Bologna Process, which will not only drastically change the existing approaches to defining study programmes, quality assurance and assessment, and recognition of foreign qualifications and diplomas, but also enable students to have a decisive say in managing higher education. The objectives are clear – to have a more thorough and practical knowledge, to offer a wider variety of exciting study programmes and to allow students to define their educational preferences more freely.
Students have been active also in the process of creating and implementing of Bologna reforms. As one of stakeholders in the higher education, the SSU helped prepare the updated higher education legislation in 2004 and later put a lot of effort into informing high school and university students as well as general public of the forthcoming changes. In order to the meet the defined aims in full, it is vital that after the establishment of the legal basis energy be channelled into monitoring and ensuring proper implementation of the reform, which is another task where students will play one of the major roles.
Halls of Residence
The number of students in Slovenia rises year by year but sadly the number of student beds available lags behind the requirements. Out of 104,000 students in Slovenia in the 2003-2004 academic year only less than 14.500 managed to get beds in the existing halls of residence. So the majority of students living away from home still had to pay sky-high rents for private accommodation, which is definitely a major setback in the course of study.
The planned refurbishment and construction project, aiming at providing students with 3,760 new beds by 2009, is expected to do away with the severe inadequacy of student accommodation capacity. So in order to ensure timely and effective completion of the project, students are going to provide funding support for the implementation of the project amounting to more than 6 Billion Tolars, which constitutes nearly half of the required funds. We shall be regularly monitoring the progress of the project through our project council.
Scholarships and Student Employment
The issue of scholarships is without doubt one of the areas that the national policy had unjustifiably neglected in the recent past. Both the number of granted scholarships and their values failed to be adapted to the rise in the number of students and ever growing study expenses, which eventually led to a drop in students’ social standing. In addition, unregulated scholarships policy was continually forcing students to take on more work from student employment services, which has evolved into one of the main sources of student funding.
Seasonal and temporary work have become valuable assets in everyday student life because they form a cradle of first-hand work experience, which cannot be gained during the course of study. To this end, the SSU will continue to make every endeavour to preserve the existing student employment system and the treatment of students in regard to income tax, and to pursue more rigorous monitoring of students’ work within the framework of student employment services. We shall be directly involved in the preparation of the reform of the scholarships system to be carried out in 2004-2005 academic year, which will undoubtedly resolve the pending scholarship issues.
Student Health and Health Care
The SSU became increasingly aware of student health and health care issues as the national health care reform was being implemented last year. We have been doing our best ever since to ensure higher quality of student health care services, to bring payment of health insurance contributions in line with student employment, to strengthen cooperation with institutions in this field, and to provide guidance to student disease prevention projects.
Our goal is to have a say in the deliberations on the health reform and its implementation so as to be able to try and create better students’ accessibility to health care services at all levels.
Employment of New Graduates
Our dedication to students does not end upon their completion of studies. We make every effort to create better job opportunities for graduates and facilitate their laying of foundations for the future. The SSU will continue to promote active youth employment policy measures and to place heavy stress on the importance of the correlation between formal education and extracurricular activities. The importance should not go unnoticed as the strong link between the two provides sound theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for a successful entry to the labour market.
The array and quality of educational, sporting, cultural and other activities available to students throughout their study have reached and maintained a high degree of efficiency, which can also be attributed to the profound dedication of various student organisations. Today’s broad range of non- and informal activities offers plenty of opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge, skills and experience not included in the context of formal education. It is ever so important to obtain formal recognition of acquired skills and knowledge, which is why SSU in 2004 adopted the non-formal record book project called Nefiks.
Another significant contribution to the area of extracurricular activities is the youth information and communication system of Slovenia, which is going to be deployed as part of a Web portal in mid-2005.
In the light of increased international integration and globalisation, the SSU is becoming increasingly responsive to the current situation and recognizes the importance of international cooperation. We are, among others, full members of The National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB), comprising 44 national unions of students from 33 countries, and members of the regional grouping of National Unions of Students from South Eastern Europe (SEI). Within this framework we have the opportunity to actively participate in resolving student issues at the European level, and what is more, linkage to the two organisations enables us to bring part of activities and experience back to Slovenia. In April 2004 we held an international conference in Ljubljana on the topic of higher education financing, which we organised together with the Student Union of Serbia and Swedish National Union of Students. Furthermore, in October 2004 we are hosting a joint working seminar of ESIB Expert Committees for the Commercialisation of Education and the Bologna Process.
Where to Find Us
Slovenian Student Union
Tel: +386 1 28 06 800
Fax: + 386 1 28 06 807