Last Chance to Save the Student Town?
Bratislava, 27 June 2023: The Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Slovak Republic was probably the last chance to save the dormitories in Mlynská dolina, which serve the whole of Slovakia. Dormitories that have been underfunded for a long time need an intervention that exceeds the financial possibilities of Comenius University Bratislava. The inaction of the state authorities can ruin the hope for the reconstruction of the largest student city.
By: CU External Relations Office
The Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Slovak Republic included 203.9 million euros to increase the performance of Slovak universities. By the end of the second quarter of 2026, the plan set a key goal to renovate at least 262,647 m2 of the area of universities and dormitories. However, Slovak universities and colleges are still waiting for the call. The call for comprehensive modernization of university buildings and dormitories was supposed to be issued in December 2022, but the deadline was repeatedly postponed. The chance of meeting the originally set deadline of the second quarter of 2026 decreases every day.
Comenius University prepared for the call. The university developed a project for a complex, in-depth reconstruction of a twelve-story dormitory in "Mlynská dolina" with an accommodation capacity of 1,345 people with a projected 63% primary energy savings. The project worth 34.5 million euros has a valid building permit, and the government included it in the development program of public works priorities for the years 2023-2025. However, the university can take further steps only after receiving financial support from the state.
"There was no investment in dormitories for decades. We are pushing a huge investment debt in front of us. Today, the amount of subsidy from the state is not even enough to cover the costs of our main activity, which is student education and scientific activity. We need 34.5 million euros for the reconstruction of Štúrak, while the amount allocated for capital expenditures is around 7 million euros per year - for all Slovak universities and colleges," explained Jana Duračinská, the Vice-Rector of CU for Property and Investments.
"Today we commemorate the 104th anniversary of the establishment of the largest Slovak university. However, we do not celebrate. Instead, we are thinking about what consequences the closure of the largest Slovak dormitory would lead to. A decrease in non-Bratislavan and foreign students would lower the ranking of the only Slovak university, which is regularly placed in the top 1000 of most international rankings. With the high cost of living in Bratislava, university education will become unaffordable for many students," said Marek Števček, the Rector of Comenius University. "If we don't offer affordable accommodations, even more students will head to countries that actively support the development of university infrastructure. This is the last chance: maintaining the largest student city is in the interest of all of Slovakia."
At today's press conference, representatives of Comenius University called for the state to act as soon as possible and announce the call for comprehensive modernization of university buildings and dormitories. This call must consider legislative and bureaucratic conditions in Slovakia. The University calls on the Government to immediately inform the public on whether it is willing to support the modernization of accommodation facilities directly from the state budget to what extent and within what time frame. CU also reminds the government that Bratislava universities and colleges were excluded from the possibility of applying for support from European structural funds in previous program periods.