The University was established as a subsidiary of the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" with a order of the Council of Ministers No 223 from 09.08.1975. With a Decree No 2296 from the 4th of August 1983 of the Council of Ministers it is separated as an independent Higher Pedagogical Institute, and with a decision of the National Assembly published in the Official State Gazette issue 68 from the 1st of August 1995 it promulgated as an independent State University with its own accreditation.
The Southwestern University is a center of a rich educational and scientific activity, one of the most authoritative spiritual fireplaces outside the capital. There are 10 500 Bulgarian and foreign students at the University, which study in more than 40 majors. A special authority have the functioning International University Seminar for Balkan Research and Specialization, the Center for Foreign Languages and Literature, Center for International cooperation and integration, Center for Distance Education, the University Publishing House and other centers and units within the framework of the University.
Rich library, wonderful sport facilities, dormitories, perfectly equipped labs, curricula according to the requirements of the 21sl century all this makes SWU "Neofit Rilski" an attractive center for the young people not only from Bulgaria but also from other countries.
The main University campus is located on Ivan Mihailov St. 66.
The Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" is located in the city of Blagoevgrad which is only 90 km to the South from the Bulgarian capital Sofia, and 15 km from the border with the Republic of Macedonia and 80 km from the border with the Republic of Greece.
The strategic geopolitical place of the region makes it a center for economic, cultural, educational relations which are facilitated by the vicinity of two borders and the modern transport and communication infrastructure network. In the city there are radio and TV centers, opera, drama theater, movie theaters, 15 high schools, and 6 technical vocational schools. All this defines the objective necessity of, as well as the higher requirements for, an adequate educational system for the preparation of high quality specialists with higher education.
The main objective of the University is to prepare topnotch specialists with higher education in the field of culture, education, science, law, and the economical life of the country and abroad.
In doing so the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" performs its specific mission to be the largest and most authoritative scientific-educational and social-cultural institution in Southwestern Bulgaria, the neighboring region of the Balkans, and Southeast Europe as a whole.
The structure of the University includes the following faculties:
Faculty of Pedagogy
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Faculty of Law and History
Faculty of Fine Arts
Within the University there is also Center for International Cooperation and Integration; Center for Foreign Languages and Literature; International University Seminar for Balkan Research and Specialization; and University Publishing House.
With its structure the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" is in absolute accordance with the requirements of the Bulgarian law for Higher Education because it educates students in all fields of science humanitarian, natural, social, and technical. Now there are 12 579 students studying in 43 majors at the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski".
In regard to the academic mobility of the students we have taken into account the requirements of the European Union and other countries including mandatory educational modules language training, computer literacy, and European standards in the pursuing of science in order to reconcile the academic preparation at the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" with the modern world requirements.
The Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" has built one of the most modern centers for distance education. It is included in the European network for distance education consisting of 40 centers and 11 national contact points. It also participates in the European network EDEN. There is on-line education through the Internet and students also have the opportunity to earn an on-line European Master's degree. The University has student exchange programs with leading Western universities.
A complete system for the continuous enhancement of the quality of teaching and learning at the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski". It reflects the basic views, trends and standards discussed at the national and international seminars on the issue and published in the printed and on-line media. The respective standards, structures, and procedures as well as the indicators for effectiveness have been adapted to the peculiarities at the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski". A fundamental element is of the system for evaluation and support of the quality are the worked out surveys for the student opinion on different aspects of the academic life and education. The system proceeds with a research on the attitude and opinion of employers of specialists from the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski".
In the internal quality system at the University we accept the concept for an "endless improvement to perfection". We think that this concept is some kind of a more general and pliable concept which I adopted by the majority of the Universities at home and abroad. What we constantly improve is the service offered by the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski "and above all the academic activity and scientific research.
The increase in the quality includes improvement of the activities as a result of the corrective action but also ways such as professional development of the personnel, the creation of conditions for the introduction of the students in the process of study, renewal of teaching methods, acquiring of knowledge and evaluation, work out of the curriculum in such a way so that it can reflect the changes in the modern information technologies and the surrounding world as well as the application of better means to obtain more exact and useful data for observation etc.
The Academic Council of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" includes 470 professors allocated in 8 units 7 faculties and 1 college. In this way it covers the requirements of the Law for Higher Education.
There is a trend for the enrichment of the spectrum of specialties/majors on which with growing tempos there is inter-scientific and teaching exchange.
The trend is indicated by the dynamics of the released specializations as a part of the academic mobility of the personnel of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski". In 1998 they are in Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, and Israel, in 1999: in Belgium, Germany, and Greece, and in 2000 in Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, Hungary, France, Sweden, and Canada.
According to the data for the last five years 143 professors have released internal academic mobility and 54 have represented the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" in foreign universities and research centers.
Another established form for a dynamic and useful exchange of academic experience is the established membership of the professors in different scientific professional organizations and the participation in the activity of the scientific professional institutions. As a whole the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" has over the last five years 222 professors as members of research and scientific professional organizations and structures, and 46 of the full time professors are accepted in such units abroad. Relatively substantial is the number of the professors from the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" in the ruling bodies of Bulgaria.
An arguable factor establishing the importance and influence of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" is the membership of 66 outstanding scholars and professors in the specialized scientific councils. 60 more representatives of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" are member of expert groups and councils, having direct influence on the processes of improvement of the whole educational system in Bulgaria in the direction to the European and world standards, evidence for this assertion is the fact that the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" is an attractive place for guest lecturing of: General Secretary of the Council of Europe, the Chairman of the State Council of France, the Chief Director of the Direction 22 of the European Union, the Chairman of the European Court for the Human Rights, the Deputy Chairman of the Hague Court, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Poland and ambassadors from eleven countries.
We cannot skip the rich creative art activity: 45 exhibitions of professors and students some of which abroad, 219 concerts and records in the Bulgarian National Radio and Television, over 40 stage plays of the university experimental student theatre, and the international festival of student films.
All this motivates the social appreciation for our academic production: we are proud that graduates of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" specialize in prestigious leading universities in Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, France, USA etc. A number of our graduates are teaching in other universities in Bulgaria and abroad. There is a categorical conclusion that our graduates determine the level of the education in Bulgaria. Other evidence for the high quality of the education is the inflow of foreign applicants. In 1996/1997 there were 171 foreign students. Now, in 2001/2002 their number is 420 plus 15 foreign Ph.D. Students.
The Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" Blagoevgrad includes among its priorities the conducting of various scientific-research and creative art activity.
The major directions of the improvement of the scientific-research and creative art activity of the professors and students, including the establishment of a University scientific research center /with sectors and labs in humanitarian, social, natural, and technical sciences/ and a University center for creative art activity.
The strategy for development of the scientific research at the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" has a clear cut vision. It takes into account the generally accepted objective of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" the establishment of the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" as a scientific, educational, and cultural center in Bulgaria, the Balkans, and the world as a whole; to be a dynamic and effective factor for a social economic stability and development in order to solve current issues in the forming of the civil society; to provide answering the European standards preparation and qualification of basic specialists in order to increase the culture of life and develop warm neighboring relations. To achieve these goals the Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" has set up the following priority directions for scientific research:
Humanitarian-social research directed to the give meaning, make forecasts, based regulation and assistance to the solution of the sharpened by the situation of transition to democratic society historical, legal, ethnic, cultural, psychological, and pedagogical problems in their socio-cultural regional, national, and Balkan context and heritage, and in the contemporary dimensions of the stress transformation of social and production structures, of traditions and values; of professional qualification; of the increase of the complexity and controversy of the social life of the human being the key factor of every change and the prospective capital of every country.
Research in the field of natural, economical, and technical sciences in the direction of the regional and trans-border ecological problems; study of natural conditions and work out of systems to incorporate waste-efficient technologies and environmental management; innovations in the sphere of computer science, computer and multimedia complexes and technologies, scientific research of the issues of business administration, financial efficiency, technological renewal and modernization of small and medium sized enterprises and joint ventures, of tourism and services.
The stated formulas are simultaneously a conclusion of the worked out strategies in the fundamental scientific fields of the faculties and ruling bodies for definition of the exact programs for scientific research and creative art activity in the respective relevant fields and majors.
The University finances and plans editorial activity of the professors as well as the creative art forums and performances /symposia/ conferences, exhibitions, concerts, etc./ from a general university and faculty perspective.
The Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" has State Institutional Accreditation by the National Agency for Accreditation and Evaluation.