Bulgarian University Ranking System (BURS) 2021 edition registers an increase in the number of both Bulgarian and foreign students, an increase in the share of graduates who hold labor market positions requiring higher education, as well as a continuing trend for increasing the number of internationally recognized research publications of Bulgarian universities. Against the background of the health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19, the 11th annual edition of the university rankings in Bulgaria released by the Ministry of Education and Science on Thursday, December 2, 2021, found a significant increase in the income of graduates in the fields of health and education, but also the highest unemployment rate among young graduates since 2015, most strongly felt by those with degrees in tourism.
The number of students in Bulgarian HEIs in 2021 has increased by more than 4,000 compared to the previous year and has reached a total of 202,605. The largest increase in the number of current students is observed in the professional fields of Pedagogy of … (1510 students, representing an increase of 24%), Pedagogy (1329, equal to an increase of 9%) and Medicine (752, equivalent to 6%). The largest decline was observed in the fields of Economics – a decrease of 1,594 students or 5%, followed by the fields of Tourism (a decrease of 421 students, equivalent to a 10% drop) and Public Health (a decrease of 327 students, equivalent to a drop of 11%).
The professional fields with the highest number of students in 2021 are Economics with 29,321 current students, Pedagogy (16,719) and Medicine (13,186). For the first time since the BURS was launched 11 years ago, the Administration and Management field with 13,137 students is not among the top three fields with the highest number of students in Bulgaria and ranks 4th after Medicine.
In 2021, most students study at “St. Kliment Ohridski” Sofia University – 22,250 followed by “Paisii Hilendarski” Plovdiv University with 16,580 current students and the University of National and World Economy with about 14,600 current students. 13% of the students in the country study in private universities, with the largest share of students in private universities in the fields of Theater and Film Art – over 69% and Theory of Arts – 63%.
The share of foreign students in Bulgaria has increased from about 4% in 2013 to more than 8% of the current students in 2021. The professional fields with the largest share of foreign students are Medicine (58%), Dental medicine (43%) and Veterinary Medicine (31%). Foreign students exceed 10% also in Pharmacy (12%), Transport, Navigation and Aviation (12%) and Music and Dance Arts (12%).
As the Bulgarian labor market continues to feel the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the share of registered unemployed among graduates of Bulgarian universities, who completed their education in the last 5 years, rose to 3.5% in 2021 (from 2.8% last year) – the highest unemployment rate since 2015. The other indicators for the labor market performance of graduates however continue to improve. The share of graduates who do not contribute to the social security system has dropped to nearly 18% in 2021 from over 25% in 2014. At the same time, the share of graduates who hold labor market positions requiring higher education has increased to nearly 53% in 2021 from less than 46% in 2014. The average insurable income of graduates has increased to BGN 1520 in 2021 from BGN 1373 last year and from BGN 867 in 2014.
The lowest unemployment (1% or less) and the highest level of application of the acquired higher education degree (over 90%) are observed among the graduates of the professional fields Medicine, Pharmacy, Dental medicine and Military Science. Over 90% employment in a position requiring higher education is observed among the graduates in Theory and Management of Education as well. Tourism graduates have the lowest application of the acquired higher education degree (21%) and the highest unemployment rate (5.9%) in 2021.
The professional fields with the highest average income among the graduates are Informatics and Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Minerals Prospecting, Extraction and Processing, Metallurgy, Communication and Computer Equipment, Medicine, Public Health, Military Science, and Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Automation.
Compared to the previous year, the largest increase in the average insurance income is observed among the healthcare and education graduates. The average insurance income of the graduates in Medicine rose by 35%, in Health Care – by 30%, and in pedagogical and educational professional fields the increase is between 17% and 20%.
First-year students with highest average Secondary education diploma GPA are those admitted in the fields of Medicine (5.59), Pharmacy (5.54) and Dental Medicine (5.45). The freshmen in Metallurgy have the lowest Secondary education diploma GPA (4.21). The average Secondary education diploma GPA of the first-year students admitted in the Bulgarian HEIs in 2021 is 5.00.
The data in the Bulgarian Ranking System show a continuing increase in the number of research publications of Bulgarian universities in international bibliographic databases. The number of research publications of Bulgarian universities in Web of Science in the last five years (2016-2020) exceeds 19 000 against 17,600 in the period 2015-2019. The number of research publications in Scopus in the last five years (2016-2020) exceeds 18,400 against 15,950 in the period 2015-2019.
In the BURS 2021 predefined rankings the “St. Kliment Ohridski” Sofia University ranks first in 23 professional fields out of a total of 30, in which it offers training. The Technical University – Sofia ranks first in 6 professional fields out of a total of 11, in which it prepares students. The Medical University – Sofia is the best in 4 PFs. The University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy has 3 first places. The American University in Blagoevgrad, the Agricultural University in Plovdiv and the Trakia University in Stara Zagora have two first places each. Another 12 universities top one ranking each. In 8 professional fields the rankings are headed by universities outside the capital Sofia, and in 3 professional fields – by private universities.
BURS compares the performance of 52 higher education institutions within 52 professional fields on the basis of dozens of indicators measuring various aspects of the teaching and learning process, research, learning environment, social and administrative services offered, the reputation and regional importance of higher education institutions, as well as the realization of graduates on the labor market. Information from various sources was used to form the indicators in the 2021 rankings, including information from: the higher education institutions, the National Agency for Assessment and Accreditation, the National Center for Information and Documentation, the National Social Security Institute, the international bibliographic databases Scopus and Web of Science, as well as from surveys conducted in 2020 among students, professors, managers and administrative staff in HEIs, as well as among employers.
The purpose of BURS is to assist prospective students in their efforts to make informed choices and to navigate the variety of opportunities offered by higher education institutions in Bulgaria. Through the interactive web page of the Bulgarian University Ranking System (https://rsvu.mon.bg) users can see field based “Predefined Rankings” of Bulgarian universities, as well as to make their own “Custom Rankings” in view of their individual interests and preferences, using the indicators and functionalities available in the system. The ranking system also contains information about the most common professions among graduates of different professional fields in different universities in Bulgaria, a list of majors in which individual universities provide training, as well as a list of joint programs of Bulgarian universities with partners from abroad.
The Bulgarian University Ranking System is available in Bulgarian and in English at: https://rsvu.mon.bg
The 2021 BURS edition has been prepared by the OSI-S consortium, composed of Open Society Institute – Sofia and Sirma Solutions under contract with the Ministry of Education and Science