The 2022 edition of the Bulgarian University Ranking System (BURS) registers a record low unemployment rate among new university graduates as well as an improvement in the results for all other indicators measuring the relevance of the university education to the labor market. The updated ranking system also shows a continuous rise in the share of international students in Bulgaria and an increase in the number and influence of the research publications of the Bulgarian universities.
The 2022 edition of the Bulgarian University Ranking System was prepared by a consortium composed of Open Society Institute – Sofia and Sirma Solutions under a contract with the Ministry of Education and Science and its results were announced at a press conference on November 14, 2022, with the participation of the Minister of Education Prof. Sasho Penov and the Executive director of the Open Society Institute – Sofia, Georgi Stoytchev.
Regardless of the negative economic effects related to the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the share of the registered unemployed among Bulgarian citizens who have graduated from universities in Bulgaria in the last 5 years dropped to 2%, whereas the rate for last year was 3.5%. This has been the lowest unemployment rate registered among graduates ever since there were data about this indicator in the Ranking System which was published for the first time in 2011. The other indicators of graduates’ career relevance to the labor market continue to improve. The share of the graduates who do not contribute to the Bulgarian social security system fell below 17% in 2022 from over 25% in 2014. The share of the employed graduates who have been occupying a position that requires college or university degree increased to over 54% in 2022 from below 46% in 2014. The average insurance income of graduates is also growing, reaching up to BGN 1647 in 2022 in contrast to BGN 1520 for the last year and only BGN 867 for 2014.
Despite these positive trends, the new edition of the national ranking system continues to show that there are considerable differences in the average rates of income, unemployment and relevance of the acquired university education depending on the professional field as well as on the university chosen even within the same professional field.
The lowest unemployment rate (below and about 1%) is to be found among graduates in the professional fields Medicine, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, Military Science and Mathematics, and the highest – among those who graduated in Social Work (3.7%). The highest degree of relevance of the acquired higher education (over 90%) is observed among graduates in Medicine, Military Science and Theory and Management of Education, and the lowest – among graduates in Tourism (21%). The professional fields with the biggest share (over 90%) of graduates insured in Bulgaria are Theory and Management of Education, Military Science and Pharmacy, and that with the smallest share is Transport, Shipping, Navigation and Aviation (67%).
The highest average taxable income is received by graduates in Informatics and Computer Sciences (BGN 3456), followed by those who graduated in Mathematics (BGN 2771), Communication and Computer Equipment (BNG 2731), Medicine (BGN 2711), Public Health (BGN 2703), Research, Extraction and Development of Ores and Minerals (BGN 2634) and Metallurgy (BGN 2510). At the university level the highest taxable income is received by graduates in Informatics and Computer Sciences from Sofia University (BGN 5592), followed by graduates in Administration and Management from the American University (BGN 4568) and in Informatics and Computer Sciences from New Bulgarian University (BGN 4333).
The first year students with the highest average secondary education diploma GPA are in the professional fields Medicine (5.58), Pharmacy (5.56), Dental Medicine (5.53) and Veterinary Medicine (5.40). Those with the lowest average secondary education diploma GPA are the first-year students in the professional field Metallurgy (4.29). The average secondary education diploma GPA of the newly-admitted university students in the whole country is 5.01. By individual university, the first-year students with the highest secondary education diploma GPA are those admitted in the professional field Administration and Management in the American University (5.78), followed by those studying Law at Sofia University (5.74) and Medicine at Sofia Medical University (5.69).
The three most popular professional fields in 2022 are Economics with 28 223 current students, Pedagogy (17 083 current students) and Medicine (13 271 current students). In comparison with the previous year, the biggest increase in the number of the current students is to be found in the professional fields Pedagogy of Teaching in … (709 more current students in 2022) and Pedagogy (366 more current students in 2022 ), and the most significant decrease is in the professional fields Economics (1098 less currents students in 2022) and Administration and Management (471 less currents students in 2022).
The higher education Institution (HEI) with the greatest number of current students is Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski – 19 999, followed by Paisii Hilendarski Plovdiv University with 16 9334 and the University of National and World Economy – Sofia with 14 610 students. In the country there are 13 universities with less than 1000 students, including three universities with less than 100 students. Half of the students in the country attend the nine biggest universities. The other half attends the remaining 43 universities. Sofia University has more students that the 22 universities with the smallest number of students in the country together.
Approximately 13% of the students in the country study in private universities, including over 69% of the students in the Theatre and Cinema Arts, 54% of the students in Arts Theory, nearly 43% in Fine Arts and approximately 42% in Administration and Management.
Within the last decade the share of the international students in Bulgaria has doubled – from about 4% in 2013 to over 8% of the students in 2022. The biggest share of the international students is to be found in the professional fields Medicine (59% of the current students), Dental Medicine (46%) and Veterinary Medicine (31%). The international students exceed 10% of the students in yet other four professional fields. These are Theory and Management of Education (16%), Pharmacy (13%), Transport, Shipping, Navigation and Aviation (12%) and Music and Dance Arts (11%).
The data collected for the purposes of the Ranking System show a continuous increase in the number and influence of the research publications of Bulgarian universities. The number of the research publications of Bulgarian universities in the bibliographic database Web of Science for the five-year period from 2017 to 2021 is over 20 500 and exceeds by about 1500 the number of the publications for the previous five-year period (2016-2020) when they were approximately 19 000. The number of the publications in Scopus for the period 2017-2021 is slightly over 21 000 and exceeds by about 2600 the number of the publications for the previous five-year period (2016-2020) when they were approximately 18 400. The H-index of the Bulgarian universities as a whole has been increasing too: from 82 to 94 in Web of Science and from 83 to 98 in Scopus. The H-index measures both the productivity and impact of the publications of a certain scholar, scientific organization or group of organizations.
In the predefined rankings of the Ranking System for 2022, Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski takes the first place in 21 professional fields of 28 ranked in the university. The Technical University of Sofia is ranked first in 6 professional fields out of 9 it participates with. Sofia Medical University is first in 4 professional fields of 5 ranked. The University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy – Sofia and the American University of Blagoevgrad occupy 3 first places. The Agricultural University, the Medical University – Plovdiv and Trakia University hold each two first places. Other 13 universities take the lead in one ranking each. In 11 professional fields the first places are taken by universities outside the capital, and in 4 professional fields – by private universities.
The Bulgarian University Ranking System compares the performance of 52 universities within 52 professional fields based on dozens of indicators measuring various aspects of the teaching and learning process, science and research, teaching and learning environment, welfare and administrative services, the prestige and the regional importance of the universities as well as graduates’ career relevance to the labour market. To develop the indicators of the predefined rankings of the 2022 Ranking System information from various sources was used, including the universities, the National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency, the National Centre for Information and Documentation, the National Social Security Institute, the international bibliographic databases Scopus and Web of Science, as well surveys carried out in 2020 among students, teachers, the management and administrative staff of the universities, and employers.
The BURS’ aim is to assist university applicants in their efforts to make an informed choice and find their way in the variety of study opportunities offered by the universities in Bulgaria. The interactive website of the Ranking System (https://rsvu.mon.bg) provides users with predefined rankings of the universities by professional fields as well as with the opportunity to make their own custom rankings with a view to their individual interests and preferences by using the indicators and functionalities available in the system. The Ranking System also contains information about the most common professions among graduates in the various professional fields from different universities in Bulgaria, as well as a list of the majors provided by the individual universities.
The Ranking System is available in Bulgarian and English at: https://rsvu.mon.bg