Bulgarian universities are struggling to fill their places just as local students head abroad in search of a better education in the UK or the Netherlands, according to reports.
Observers believe that Bulgarian youngsters are seeking more prestige, flexibility and business links on courses abroad.
At Sofia University, there are still more than 850 places available in humanities, law, applied and natural sciences courses, according to BalkanInsight. The Technical University of Sofia and the University of Plovdiv still have places available as well.
Last year, 17 per cent of roughly 30,000 Bulgarians students studied abroad, the website reported, part of the country’s long-standing brain drain to the rest of Europe.
There has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of applications to study in the Netherlands, according to Nikolay Hristanov, an education specialist at the World Education Forum, an organisation that aims to create an educational level playing field between countries.
There have also been about 2,000 Bulgarian applicants to UK universities in the past two years as young people try to “catch the last train” before Brexit, he said – although this figure is down on 2016.
“Top high school students are seeking prestige and are attracted by the good material base of the institutions and especially by the flexibility of the programs and their business partnerships” – which are largely absent in Bulgaria, the outlet quoted Mr Hristanov as saying.
Ivan Gospodinov – from Education without Backpacks, a group seeking to modernise Bulgarian education – told BalkanInsight that it was “essential not to try and compete with foreign universities, but to turn back to the needs of Bulgarian society”.