Cuts to degree places

June 9, 2000

Bulgarian prime minister Ivan Kostov has called for substantial cuts in university admissions to bring graduation rates in line with job prospects.

The call was reminiscent of the admissions policy of the communist era, when the number of university places available each year in each subject was strictly calculated on the basis of the predicted demand for graduates in that field.

Bulgaria has 263,800 students in higher education, a figure that the prime minister argues is too high for a country of some 8.4 million inhabitants.

Last year, the overall intake for Bulgarian universities was fixed at 47,000 but only about 39,000 enrolled. For next September, the intake quota has been set at 37,648. Almost half of the country's 82,000 school-leavers will enter higher education.

These admission figures, however, refer only to students financed by the state. A number of universities have, contrary to the law, established subsidiaries with fee-paying undergraduate and graduate courses.

Mr Kostov was addressing a meeting of rectors and deputy rectors from more than 50 universities and higher education institutes.

They seem resigned to the cuts - particularly as they have been assured that the overall budgetary allocation for higher education will not be reduced.

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