Young researchers want to return to Slovenia but face obstacles

Ljubljana, 6 July - Many early stage researchers who work abroad would like to return to Slovenia but this is not easy even though there are several instruments in place to help them relocate, heard the 5th conference of young Slovenian researchers and students from Slovenia and abroad organised by the Slovenian World Congress.

Speakers from Slovenia and around the world discussed on Wednesday the importance of giving young people the opportunity to improve their knowledge abroad, the challenges of studying and working abroad, and how to create better conditions and opportunities at home.

Klementina Fon Tacer, chairwoman of the Global Alumni and Associates Network of the University of Ljubljana, said that many early stage researchers who decide to stay abroad want to continue working with Slovenia.

The network was established in 2014 with the aim of bringing together scientists, professors, R&D experts and other distinguished individuals who have links with Slovenia. It also aims to improve the quality of study opportunities and strengthen international cooperation and the university's reputation, Tacer added.

The government must create mechanisms to support young people returning home and create the right conditions for them to continue their work, said Darja GroĊĦelj, assistant professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The Slovenian Research and Innovation Agency offers various grants and programmes to support young researchers in their studies and career.

However, its programme to help researchers find career opportunities in Slovenia and form research groups remains under-utilised. They have sufficient funds to assist twelve researchers but received just three applications last year.

Mateja Zalar, one of the three applicants, said that the programme was a good career opportunity, but that the requirements of the programme put applicants off, as there is very little time to do everything. "Just sorting out all the bureaucracy needed to return from abroad can take a lot of time," said Zalar.