It’s that time again. The accreditation process comes around every five years in Slovakia. This time, along with accreditation comes news that the government is wanting to do some house cleaning to improve the quality of the university system and decrease the number of schools. Some of these threats have already materialized and will be affecting our seminary next September.
As far as I can tell, under communism in Slovakia we didn’t really have universities. There was a College of Medicine in one town and an Institute of Technology in another or a College of Education in another. But other than maybe in the capital there was no real university that offered programs in “every” field of knowledge. When communism fell, all or at least some of these focused schools had dreams of becoming a true university.
Universities started popping up like mushrooms. Universities need students and teachers. To get enough students for all these universities, admission requirements go down. Tuition is no problem–it’s practically free to attend university. To get enough teachers, research requirements go down.
And so the university system in Slovakia is watered down.
So for example, in the QS World University Rankings for 2013 76 countries have at least one university in the list. Slovakia has none. Of our neighboring countries only Hungary does not have a school in the top 500. But Austria (4), Poland (2), the Czech Republic (1), and Ukraine (1) all have at least one.
Actually, Slovakia does not figure anywhere in the list of more than 700 schools. And we weren’t left out of the study.
Threats from Every Side
Our seminary is a department (Katedra) in the College of Education (Pedagogická fakulta) at the University of Matej Bel (UMB) in Banská Bystrica. It’s one of those schools that wanted to be a “true” university. In fact, that’s one reason they agreed to take our seminary under their wing in 1993.
In recent years, enrollment at our school has been going down and the quality of research has never achieved a competitive level even in Slovakia. I’m afraid to say the same is true of our Department of Evangelical Theology and Christian Education.
These factors make ol’ UMB a target for potential reforms that will reduce the number of universities in the country. Will those reforms pass?
But there’s more. Besides being too many universities in Slovakia, there are also too many Colleges of Education (where we are a department). So even if UMB makes the cut, the College of Education may not.
But there’s more. We don’t know for sure what reforms will actually get passed. But we do know that starting next fall our university must decrease the faculty by as much as 25%. We have 8 full time teachers at our faculty and we have the highest number of teachers per student.
By the numbers it makes sense that we must lose two of our faculty. But seminaries are not usually departments, they’re usually more like colleges with a department of New Testament, Old Testament, Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, Practical Theology, Missions and Christian Education. We offer seminary degrees (BS, MS, PhD) that cover all of those areas.