New Rights for Czech Students Coming with Amendment to the Higher Education Act
The system of higher education in the Czech Republic has been waiting for this essential reform for more than 10 years. On March 2016 all expectations met the reality and the act was passed through the Senate and signed by the president. However, some controversies occurred during its approving – linked to the issue of appointing professors. Although, the president has refused to name several professors in the past, and therefore broke the law, he will keep this duty. The Czech Republic is one of few countries where “professor” is not a function but an academic title that one holds for the rest of one’s life.
The most remarkable changes in the Higher Education Act are the following:
- Social grant for students in need increases from prior fixed amount 1 620 Czech Crowns/month (60€) to a quarter of the minimum wage – that is, at the moment, 2,480 Czech Crowns/month (92€). Even this small change is appreciated by The Student Chamber.
- A new accreditation institution is established – The National Accreditation Authority, which will approve a wide field of education instead of a particular study discipline.
- For the first time, there will be one student representative in the National Accreditation Authority so the student voice will be heard during the accreditation process. The Student chamber of higher education institutions (SK RVŠ) is responsible for choosing this representative.
- Other novelties are the inclusion of the position of adjunct professor, who may be an expert from abroad or a prominent expert with 20 years of experience and the right for the rector to take away an unlawfully gained title.
- There is a new regulation of foreign universities and their departments in the Czech Republic which should make sure that the quality of education is comparable with Czech institutions.
Studying at public universities in the Czech Republic is free for all those who study in Czech. Only those who study more than four years at bachelor’s level or more than three years in master’s level must pay. If a student drops out, the time of all studies will sum up. According to the old law, the failed study time counted twice (in bachelor’s and master’s level) and students had to pay twice. Now, once students successfully finish their bachelor’s studies, they have a clean shield and can enjoy free master’s studies for up to three years.
SK RVŠ hopes that the Amendment brings positive changes to the Czech system of higher education and that it will contribute to its further development with stronger student contribution.