Czechast with Jaroslav Miller, Deputy Minister of Education, about higher education in Czechia

Jaroslav Miller

"We provide a lot of music for little money," says Jaroslav Miller, a prominent Czech historian, academic and now deputy minister of education. He is not your typical politician; his extensive background in academia sets him apart. For seven years, Jaroslav served as the rector, or president, of Palacký University in Olomouc, one of the Czech Republic's leading universities. His impressive academic journey includes postgraduate studies at Oxford University, being honored twice as a fellow of the prestigious German scientific Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and he's also a former Fulbright Fellow at Georgia College and State University in the United States. As a visiting professor at the University of Western Australia in Darwin, he has a special affinity for this part of the world.

Czechia used to have three universities, several technical colleges and teacher training colleges three decades ago. After the fall of communism, dozens of state and private universities and colleges were founded. Jaroslav Miller sees this kind of boom of higher education institutions as a natural and positive development, because the proportion of college-educated people in the population still remains relatively low:

Jaroslav Miller | Photo: Blanka Mazalová,  Czech Radio

"Czechia remains under the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Devvelopment) average. The communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s emphasized the importance of the labor force and manual workers in factories. Only a tiny proportion of the population could study at universities."

This was an absolutely the wrong way to go, as today's reality shows. In order to be competitive on the labor market, people need skills and more and more often also higher education. For that, you need regional smaller universities and other institutions providing higher education.

Measuring the performances and results of universities and colleges is a very complex task. There are several organizations that provide global university rankings: QS University Ranking, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, ARWU/Shanghai Ranking, to name just some of the most often quoted. Jaroslav Miller points out, that even though the top universities are in the US and Britain, about 10 universities other higher education institutions in Czechia manage to get among the top 2 percent globally. The fact, that you do not have to pay tuition fees if you study in Czech and relatively low cost of studying in English makes them very competitive.

"Some universities in Czechia are flooded with American students. The costs of living and tuition are incomparably lower than if you study in America or Britain," says Jaroslav Miller adding, that the quality of education you get is comparable and getting better.

Author: Vít Pohanka
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  • Czechast

    Czechast is a regular RPI podcast about Czech and Moravian culture, history, and economy.