Rigorous processes for the planning of education
The University of Ljubljana (UL) employs a robust process of curriculum development and periodic reviews to ensure that the educational provision aligns with the university’s strategy and national frameworks. The academic planning is guided by national and international quality assurance standards to guarantee that the UL’s programmes meet standards at different qualification levels. There are multiple levels of involvement in the process, and various groups such as students, administrative and teaching staff as well as external stakeholders are engaged. For example, there are monthly meetings between the vice rector for study and student affairs and vice deans of education. According to the audit visit, 20% of the members of the University Senate are students. The student council is regularly invited to discuss matters with the rectorate.
Each new programme undergoes internal scrutiny and must receive approval from the university’s senate. Furthermore, study programmes are accredited by the national quality assurance agency. These processes offer ample opportunities to ensure that suitable teaching methods and assessment techniques are used in courses, enhancing the students’ ability to achieve their learning objectives.
All programmes follow the Slovenian qualifications framework. According to the self-assessment report, intended learning outcomes are identified in a participatory approach and they follow Bloom’s taxonomy. The constructive alignment of studies is ensured through accreditation processes, student feedback and self-assessments. Intended learning outcomes are mainly derived from strategic objectives on the faculty level but would benefit from further integration with the broader institutional strategy on a university level.
According to the self-assessment, the student workload is assessed through student feedback, student interviews and discussions. The staff also assess the workload of students. The actual workload is assessed through student surveys and expressed in ECTS credits. Although the university has a credit transfer system (ECTS), which allows students to transfer credits from one institution to another, the recognition of studies undertaken in other faculties or universities depends on the faculty.
The University of Ljubljana is internationally oriented
The university wants to establish itself as an institution with extensive international cooperation. Students have excellent opportunities to pursue parts of their studies abroad through partnerships with other universities. The internationalisation abroad is at a good level and many academic staff and students mentioned the encouragement and good opportunities in place for international mobility and cooperation. The key challenge recognised by management, academic staff, students, and external stakeholders was the internationalisation of the university at home. This relates both to the educational provision in English and attracting international degree students and staff.
The university has challenges attracting international degree students and teachers, although in some faculties around 20% of doctoral students are from outside Slovenia. The instruction at the UL is primarily conducted in Slovene, even at advanced levels, such as master’s and PhD programmes. Knowledge of Slovenian is required to actively participate in the university. During the audit visit students mentioned that international students tend to avoid lectures and other instructor-led sessions, opting to tackle courses independently. Several interviewees recognised that more programmes in English are needed to attract international students. Currently, national laws require that the university curriculum in English is also provided in Slovene, requiring additional resources. According to the audit visit, the law is motivated by the need to protect the Slovenian language and the need to keep academics in Slovenia. Several interviewees considered that the current legal framework does not support internationalisation. Based on the visit, there is also reason to review the information provided to incoming international students and staff. Incoming international students and staff require assistance navigating administrative issues.
Education is research based
The UL has introduced measures to encourage academic staff to strengthen the linkage between education and research or artistic pursuits. According to the audit visit, teachers engage students in their own research, but there is variation between the faculties. During the audit visit, teachers were concerned about how to get more students to be involved in research. The students also wished that they could be more involved in research projects.
Research-integrated teaching is a fundamental component of the University of Ljubljana’s educational provision, particularly at master’s and PhD levels. However, it may be worth considering how research integration can be further strengthened, even at the bachelor’s level. Such integration could hold the potential to mitigate dropout rates, as the students would be likely to feel a stronger connection to their educational and research context.
The university fosters new initiatives and a commitment to being at the forefront
The UL has a strong tradition of collaboration with the surrounding community and labour market in terms of shaping the educational provision and ensuring that the UL maintains a relevant and up-to-date curriculum. Partners are included in the planning of education. According to the audit visit, the study programmes are not only geared towards today’s labour market, but also towards the jobs of the future and what the world may be like in 20 to 30 years’ time. Some teaching staff stressed that it is also important to teach students generic skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and good research skills.
An example of this are micro-credentials, which are educational modules developed in partnership with other societal actors and intended to be implemented at the UL as soon as possible. Initially, these modules will be offered to those already in the labour market seeking to enhance their professional skills. A successful pilot programme will potentially lead to the next step, where micro-credentials become a part of the regular educational provision. The micro-credentials represent a promising agile new form of education which can swiftly answer to the needs of external stakeholders. The university’s focus on societal engagement is also evident through the numerous student placements it offers. According to the audit visit, many study programmes include practical training or seminars.
Discussions are currently underway on how the UL can progress to provide a greater number of transdisciplinary courses and study programmes with sustainability and social impact serving as guiding principles. Based on the audit visit, it is evident that trans- and interdisciplinary approaches are already integrated into doctoral studies. Sustainable development is an area that could receive more emphasis in the university’s developmental efforts to signal a stronger commitment to climate change and equality, diversity and inclusion issues.