Present state and concept of the Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University
in Košice for the period 2001 – 2005
The Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University, second centre of natural science in Slovakia, was founded in 1963 and since then it has educated almost 4000 graduates of single and joint degree study branches of natural science. Within latest evaluation of faculties at universities in Slovakia, the Faculty of Science was ranked an „a“ (excellent faculties). Both its quality of educational and research activities, and gradual integration into programmes of European collaboration in the field of science and higher education represent a real chance for the Faculty to find its respected place in the community of leading European institutions of higher education. The Institutional Development Programme of the Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University leans to the full on main recommendations and guiding principles in the field of higher education stated in Bologna declaration of European Ministers of Education on European Space for Higher Education, in World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century and on Concept for further development of higher education in Slovakia.
The Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University considers the following priorities to be main:
to educate and prepare highly qualified specialists in disciplines of natural science with substantial support for quality research, international cooperation, foreign and domestic mobility of students and teaching staff with adequate stress upon Magister and PhD study,
to extend level of scientific knowledge and relevant use of interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity in line with the priorities of European Union in the field of scientific research, especially in collaboration with domestic and foreign scientific institutions,
to provide services towards public aimed at extend of knowledge in disciplines of natural science by lifelong education, to take part at solving problems of social and industry sector all in line with their requirements.
Regarding high level and character of provided education based on quality and research activity recognized by international community, the mission of the Faculty of Science was defined as „Research Faculty“ by the Scientific Board of the Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University on March 1, 2000 and Academic Senate on March 29, 2000, respectively.
In accordance with European documents on higher education the Faculty stepped forward radical reform of educational system by implementing credit-based system in line with European credit transfer system (ECTS) in academic year 1998/99. The Faculty initiated and coordinated Tempus project No: UM_JEP-13050-98 entitled: „Credit-based system at Faculties of Science in Slovakia“. The most significant output was implementation of ECTS in all study branches that enabled joining European educational programme SOCRATES/ERASMUS and therefore promoted possibilities for students to undertake a fully recognized period of a study in EU countries. This range is also widen by other forms of collaboration in the field of higher education such as mobility of teachers, intensive programmes, curricula development and membership in European educational networks, e.g. Eurobio and Eupen. Since academic year 1999/00 the Faculty has gradually joined most of the mentioned European educational activities within the programme. For incoming Erasmus students who undertake part of their studies at our Faculty as well as others interested from abroad, as an information supply the updated „ECTS Information Package“ is fully to their disposal, also reachable through the Internet as at first Faculty among Slovak Faculties of natural science and similar specialisation.
In the frame of generally accepted model 3+2+3 the Faculty provides Bachelor’s and Magister‘s degree study in the following single study branches: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Ecology, Informatics, Mathematics and Physics; and in all joint degree programmes in combinations of study branches: Biology, Geography, Chemistry, Informatics, Mathematics and Physics. In connection with creation of the detached place of work of the Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University in nearby town Rožňava, new combinations Physics-Catechetics and Mathematics-Catechetics were opened. Each subject is quaranteed by a professor except for Catechetics where the request for aprobation is under preparation. By opening and accrediting of recently absent branches of natural science such as Environmental Ecology and Geography, the range of disciplines of natural science became almost complete and number of students at the Faculty went up by 40 % in the last three years. The free combination for aprobate subjects in study branch Teaching of general educational subject is supposed to be implemented by academic year 2001/2002 in hand with gradual build up of educational cycle in study branch Environmental Ecology. Futhermore plans also cover single study branch of Geography to be opened by academic year 2003/2004. One of the Faculty priorities is gradual build up of the study branch Informatics.
More than 10 % of graduates follow further education in form of doctoral study at the Faculty of Science in one of fourteen accreditied fields of science. The number of these fields of science is supposed to be seventeen by the year 2005.
Part of transformation process of educational complex is also process of implementing new forms of lifelong education that are designed not only for the Faculty graduates but also for public. The RNDr (Rerum Naturalium Doctor) examinations, qualification examinations, various courses and trainning projects are to be mentioned. Most of these activities are supported by EU project grants such as TEMPUS and SOCRATES/COMENIUS. The legislative frame for centre of lifelong education at the University is supposed to be created by 2005. The Faculty of Science will extend its services for public to professional counselling, consultancy services and so called aimed or oriented research on regional level.
Higher education at the Faculty of Science is provided in synergy with quality scientific research realized by close interaction with domestic and foreign scientific and educational institutes. Within this cooperation 60 % of scientific output of the Faculty employees is created. Careful attention is being paid to scientific research with the vision for first ten years of new millenium. It is proved by accepting the concept of research at the Faculty of Science in line with European trends and priorities of EU Fifth Framework programme that was negotiated by Scientific Council of the Faculty of Science, P. J. Šafárik University in the period May 18 – 19, 2000. The concept draws from existing results, from success of domestic and foreign grant preferencies (66 projects VEGA, KEGA, VTS and international scientific projects were coordinated at the Faculty of Science), publicated studies (approximately 10 % of total annual production of publicated studies in current journals at universities in Slovakia), tradition of scientific research at the Faculty and potential of individuals. The research in the field of Biology, Ecology and Geography will be oriented on biodiversity of plants and animals, biotechnology of healing plants, carconogenesis, prevention and cancer therapy; in the field of Chemistry on new bioactive compounds and new materials; in the field of Informatics on fuzzy techniques, neural networks and logical programming; in the field of Physics on development of new magnetic materials, theoretical and experimental research of lowdimensional magnetism and quantum liquids at ultra-low temperatures and photodynamic effect study; in the field of Mathematics on graph theory, algebraic structures, differential equations and topology.
Multibranch character of the Faculty of Science provides possibilities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach and connection of research activities.
Fulfilling mission of the Faculty of Science in the society puts higher claims for the management quality. The re-organizational process at the Faculty was directed at a creation of homogenous units according to individual branches with the perspective of University sphere of action as a part of intentions in Concept for further development of higher education in Slovakia. Since 2001 the performance in educational and scientific activity is the key element when allocating financial means (predominantly salaries) to individual study branches. The quality of decision-making policy and management process apparently colerates with regular information flow. Since 1997 the Faculty significantly progressed in implementing Academic Information System, especially in the educational field by implementation of the subsytem „Student“ and continues in other spheres of management activities. Similarly these activities are essentialy funded by institution building Tempus project grants.
Regarding obtained results and in line with European trends the Faculty priorities for the near future could be summarized as following:
to build up study branches system for undergraduate and postgraduate study and to follow implementing European dimension into higher education by further extend of activities within programmes of European Union in the field,
to realize defined priorities of research in line with trends of the development of science and society needs, to participate at building of scientific centres on faculty, university and national level,
to improve management system by creation of new Faculty structure and gradual implementation of Academic Information System into main spheres of action,
to work out final solution for the reconstruction problem and centralized location of the Faculty premises and workplaces.
The Faculty will grant support on university level for the following activities determined for further development of the University:
foundation of new Faculty specialized in humanities,
credit-based system and university centralized ECTS,
Academic Information System in the main university spheres of action,
professionalized university management,
creation of effective and functional university structure,
work out model for allocating budget in accordance to the performance in educational and scientific activities.
Košice, 03/01/2001 Management of the Faculty of Science