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Czech Higher Education Still at the Crossroads

[journal article]

Simonova, Natalie; Mateju, Petr

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Abstract The paper addresses the development of higher education in the Czech Republic after 1989, with special emphasis on the relevant legislation, institutional settings, financing, & enrollment. Czech higher education has changed profoundly since 1989. Universities were granted almost full autonomy as early as in 1990. They have reformed their curricula, expanded programs in the humanities & social sciences, & eliminated political criteria from admissions policies, both for faculty & students. However, the structural changes were not as quick & profound as obtaining & mastering the freedom was. The most significant structural changes in the Czech tertiary educational system addressed in the paper are decentralization & diversification. With regard to financing, the authors argue that universities have remained dependent on the state to a high degree. Several attempts to expand multi-source financing by introducing cost-sharing features (tuition fees, loans, student allowances) failed. The reliance on the public budget led to a severe financial crisis in public universities. As far as enrollment is concerned, the authors demonstrate that, although the number of students rose by almost 60% between 1989 & 2001, the offer of educational opportunities was too low to meet the steeply rising demand for tertiary education. The chance of being admitted hovered around 50%. Owing to the combined effect of a drop in the size of the relevant age cohort & the growing proportion of students admitted to bachelor programs, the chance of enrollment started to increase in 2001. In spite of this recent change, the transition from secondary to tertiary education still remains the most critical moment in an educational career.
Classification Training, Teaching and Studying, Professional Organizations of Education and Pedagogics; University Education
Free Keywords Higher Education; Czech Republic; Academic Freedom; Financial Support; Decentralization; Educational Reform; Enrollment; Postcommunist Societies
Document language English
Publication Year 2003
Page/Pages p. 393-410
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 39 (2003) 3
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications