Learning from Bulgaria: 55 international students get hands on development experience

June 3, 2013

  • During the visit, the students from the University of Manchester met with broad range of national stakeholders and engaged with World Bank Staff about Bulgaria’s challenges and opportunities.
  • Bulgaria is being analyzed as a case study by the students to learn how the country is approaching its development challenges.

Every year, a group of students from the Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) at Manchester University in the United Kingdom travels abroad to examine specific development challenges in a country and explore different ways in which that particular country is addressing those challenges. In the past, the group visited places like China, India, Uganda, Jamaica, and Singapore.

This year, 55 students from the Masters programs at IDPM traveled to Bulgaria to meet representatives from the government, the World Bank, the private sector, and other stakeholder throughout the country in an effort to better understand the challenges facing the country and to learn about steps being taken to address them.

“We look for places that represent an interesting development case study and Bulgaria is such a case,” says Ralitza Dimova, Senior Lecturer of Development Economics at IDPM and leader of this field trip.

Having met with a broad range of national stakeholders from the government, private sector and non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the students engaged with experts at the World Bank in Bulgaria to discuss development challenges and opportunities.

The discussion went beyond traditional presentations and focused more on challenges-opportunities passionate development talk on what could be learnt from Bulgaria. The students probed into different areas of development, inquiring about opportunities for growth in the country in these difficult times for the EU, asking about how inclusion works in Bulgaria, and wondering who the most vulnerable groups in the country are and what is being done to help them out of poverty.

" Bulgaria has come a long way in stabilizing its economy since 1990 and achieving EU membership in 2007. Looking forward – the main development challenges for Bulgaria are reinvigorating growth and creating jobs in a difficult external environment "
Stella Ilieva

Stella Ilieva

World Bank Country Economist

“Bulgaria has come a long way in stabilizing its economy since 1990 and achieving EU membership in 2007,” World Bank Country Economist Stella Ilieva told the group during the meeting at the World Bank in April. “Looking forward – the main development challenges for Bulgaria are reinvigorating growth and creating jobs in a difficult external environment.”

When speaking about opportunities, Ilieva went on to say that “investing in education, research and development, increasing labor force participation, taking care of vulnerable groups, and continuing to upgrade the country’s infrastructure are just a few of the government’s priorities being supported by the World Bank Group through knowledge and technical advice.” (Learn more about World Bank partnership model with Bulgaria here)

“The World Bank is in a strong position to leverage knowledge from around the world to strengthen individual countries,” observed Geoff Park, a student from the Development Finance department, after the discussion, “I was very encouraged to hear that this is a direction the World Bank is taking.”

“Obviously the World Bank is an important actor globally,” noted Shiniqua Gonzales-Lindo, a student from the Globalization and Development program, “ and the World Bank seems to be quite aware of what the challenges are here in Bulgaria. It doesn’t seem to be removed.”


The University of Manchester’s Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM) was established in 1958, and, since then, it has trained over 7,000 individuals from across the globe. IDPM's objective is to promote social and economic development, particularly within lower-income countries and for disadvantaged groups, by enhancing the capabilities of individuals and organizations through education, training, consultancy, research, and policy analysis. In recent years, it has been increasingly recognized that the quality of policy and institutional design represents a key constraint to development.