The Voice of Universities

On October 6, 2020 the Slovak Rectors' Conference (SRC) met in Banská Bystrica. At the premises of Matej Bel University, 26 rectors of Slovak universities met, including all rectors of public and state universities. They unanimously approved a statement expressing their disagreement with the constraints of academic self-governance as proposed in the National Integrated Reform Plan published by the Minister of Finance on October 5, 2020.

The SRC became acquainted with the "National Integrated Reform Plan" and considers it to be a solid basis for public discussion in the Higher Education Section. Many ideas in this document are perceived positively by rectors. They identify with the need to innovate and make the system of higher education governance more flexible by strengthening managerial elements and sensibly balancing the competencies of academic self-government bodies.

In no case, however, can the SRC identify with the proposed constraints of academic self-governance. In the proposed version, it perceives it as de facto end of the autonomy of universites in the Slovak Republic. The SRC expresses a categorical disagreement with the proposed model, in which the election of academic officials is transferred from the hands of academic senates to newly to be created boards of directors. The SRC considers academic freedom embodied in the system of academic self-governance to be a fundamental achievement of "November 1989" and a continuation of academic privileges of medieval universities, to which Slovak universities and schools of higher education proudly subscribe.

Universities are the bearers of the principles of humanism, altruism, freedom and human dignity. Let us maintain these principles in the future in solving the difficult tasks that await our society. We believe that universities will play as irreplaceable a role in this process as in the past.

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Photograph: UMB

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