The Rector of UNWE Prof. Dr. Dimitar Dimitrov Delivered a Report on the Financing of Higher Education at the Solemn Meeting of the Council of Rectors

Friday, 17 November 2023 20:40

The Rector of UNWE and Secretary General of the Council of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions of the Republic of Bulgaria Prof. Dr. Dimitar Dimitrov delivered a report on the Financing of Higher Education - Current Models and Prospects for Change at the solemn meeting of the Council of Rectors which marked 30 years since its establishment. The event was attended by the Vice-President Iliana Iotova, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Education and Science Krasimir Valchev, 44 Rectors of higher education institutions, former members of the Council and guests.

Acad. Corr. Member Prof. D.Sc./Tech./ Hristo Beloev, Rector of Angel Kanchev University of Ruse and Deputy Chairman of the Council of Rectors took also part in the elaboration of the report. The document contains an analysis of funding models for higher education, government policy, the advantages and disadvantages of existing funding models and the challenges in the field of higher education policy.

The Council of Rectors agrees to place all its management potential at the disposal of the Minister of Education and Science, the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science and all state structures and institutions related to the legislative process in order to support the implementation of the changes described. The appeal of the Council of Rectors will be formalized in an official letter to the institutions. It includes the establishment of a working group with the active participation of the Council of Rectors in Bulgaria to update the model of formation of the state subsidy; reconsideration of the introduced in 2020 legal text that introduces the idea of a minimum wage in the sector and to return the "contracting authority - contractor" relations in their pure form before 2020; the definition of the positions of academic staff, whose maintenance is covered by the state; the provision of a percentage of permanent earmarked expenses for the maintenance of the facilities made available for the use of higher education institutions; the protection not only of specialties, but also of knowledge in general.

Picture: Bulgarian News Agency

The Vice President Iliana Iotova was a guest of the Council of Rectors: “Don't let anyone put you in a uniform! Despite all difficulties, remain free and independent. Do not succumb to the influence of the political conjuncture, because you are longer-lived than it and the history will remember you for what you do for the future of Bulgaria". These were the words the Vice President these addressed to the attendees at the solemn meeting.

Picture: Bulgarian News Agency

"For 30 years of existence the Council of Rectors' Council has gained its authority as an institution that creates and defends positions and sets the direction for the development of higher education in Bulgaria - such an important area for society and the state. The Council of Rectors has become an important partner in shaping national policy but also a constructive critic of state institutions. The Rectors' Council is the institution that proposes reforms but also resists any ill-considered changes because it is well aware of the consequences", emphasized in her speech the Vice President.

"The Council of Rectors embodies the idea of university autonomy to the highest degree. For me, your greatest task is to maintain solidarity among you. The task of the Council is to rise above the inevitable group interests and look at the whole, above all to express the common interest of the entire higher education system which is also the interest of our children, the young people who will build the Bulgaria of tomorrow", said the Vice-President. She emphasized that the common interest is for Bulgarian universities to be competitive in the European and global educational space and not to try to compete with each other, to create new, innovative forms and conditions to attract and retain the Bulgarian and foreign students and to encourage the young scientists to study and develop in Bulgaria.

Picture: Bulgarian News Agency

The solemn session was chaired by Acad. Lachezar Traykov - Chairman of the Council of Rectors and Rector of the Medical University of Sofia. "Despite all the difficulties and problems, the Council of Rectors has proven that the effectiveness of the relations between us is the foundation on which we build the reforms. When we have acted in consensus and agreement, we have always achieved good results. Where such partnership has been lacking, tensions have arisen. We have a deep understanding of the issues and are willing to work with policy makers and implementers in the field of higher education and academia. We should be seen as a predictable and loyal partner but also as a corrective for certain decisions", said the Rector of the Medical University of Sofia Acad. Lachezar Traykov in his ceremonial speech in Hall 6 of the National Palace of Culture.

The solemn General assembly was held emphasizing on the increasingly inadequate funding from the state, which the Rectors described as "humiliating" At the end of their meeting, they declared that they would write an open letter to the President and the Prime Minister to highlight the low budget allocated to higher education for the 2024, which does not provide for any upgrading of any policy initiated. "Just because we are academic people and have good manners does not mean that we will step back from the existential minimum, because now it is a matter of survival", said Acad. Traikov.

According to him the higher education system in our country is in an unprecedented situation - an expected demographic crisis and a depleted domestic market, and the only alternative to not close the universities is to open them to foreign students. Akad. Traikov said that a new model of financing universities is necessary, as the current one, in which the state provides universities with additional funds every year to guarantee minimum salaries for assistants, is harmful and creates egalitarianism.

In 2021 the minimum salary for the lowest academic position of Assistant was set at BGN 1,300 for the first time. This amount was gradually increased and was supposed to reach BGN 1810 after the last increase this year. Since then, however, the state has provided additional funds each year to cover the increase in the minimum wage in question, most recently BGN 16 million. According to the Rectors, this puts the universities in the humiliating position of having to rely on the will of the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, they dispute the validity of the idea of setting minimum wages, especially since these concern the salaries of both associate professors and professors for whom the state does not provide additional funds.

Picture: Bulgarian News Agency

During the solemn meeting Prof. Dr. Dimitar Dimitrov awarded to Acad. Lachezar Traykov a Greeting address from the University of National and World Economy and a Commemorative coin issued on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the UNWE.

The Council of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions in the Republic of Bulgaria unites the Managing Bodies of all Bulgarian universities with different fields of study and scientific activities, with different sizes and rankings in the world list of universities, is said in the website of the Council of Rectors. With respect for tradition, experience and results, the Council of Rectors in Bulgaria has always defended its public mission. As a co-founder of the Association of European Universities, the Council of Rectors has also found its rightful place in the European university family.


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