The Slovak conference of rectors has accused the new minister of education and science, Eva Slavkoska, of infringing university autonomy.
She has delayed the submission of a list of 16 new professors to the Slovak president for his formal approval.
According to the law, universities have the right to nominate their own candidates for professorship, which in Slovakia, as in central Europe generally, is an academic rank, not an appointment to a post. To be nominated, a candidate must gain the support of at least 60 per cent of members of an academic council in a secret ballot. Names are then submitted for final review to the accreditation commission, which, twice a year, forwards its decisions to the ministry.
According to the law, the minister of education is bound to endorse the commissions' decision. But the law excludes holders of administrative posts in the universities - rectors, pro-rectors, deans and sub-deans - from the commission. Ms Slavkoska says its current membership includes several such officials and therefore is in breach of the law.