Does university study cost too much?

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Applications for study in the Czech Republic must reach universities by the end of February. If accepted, applicants can expect four or five carefree years of life as a student, which - on the other hand - is expensive, despite the fact that Czech students do not pay fees at state-run universities. Alena Skodova has this report:

Regardless that university studies are still free of charge - at state-owned schools, that is - each student has to spend a sum during their studies equivalent to buying a fancy new car. Text books, teaching aids, meals, transport and accommodation cost between 30,000 and 50,000 Czech Crowns a year. Artistic schools are the most expensive, as students require costly teaching aids - such as musical instruments or painting utensils, but future doctors also have to pay more than other students. Would-be lawyers and economists need expensive text books, but unlike young doctors, they will get this money back soon, as they can count on much higher salaries once they start full-time employment.

Parents have to start paying out large sums even before their offspring enroll in university: they have to pay for their child's study application, and this usually costs between four to six hundred Czech Crowns. Being accepted by a university brings further expenses: accommodation in a student campus or a private flat, catering, transport within the city or commuting between the university and their parents' home. Some students say that costs spent on studying at university should also include lost income - or money that they would have earned if they had started working immediately after passing their school-leaving exams at secondary school. And this adds up to fair amount of money - the average salary of a secondary-school graduate is around 10,000 Czech Crowns a month, or 120,000 Czech Crowns - some 3,500 dollars - a year. Not everyone can afford to go to a private school - tuition fees total up to 65,000 Czech Crowns a year. These costs can be compensated for, to a certain extent, by various kinds of grants, child allowances paid to student's parents, or various discounts for students for cultural venues and public transport, but all these benefits are valid up to the age of 26. Older students - and there's quite a lot of them at artistic schools - are simply out of luck.

What is more, they have to pay health and social insurance out of their own pocket, while the state takes care of these payment for younger students. Experts say that it costs millions to study at Oxford, Harvard or Yale. But - while the average graduate from Harvard's Law Faculty earns the equivalent of more than 200,000 Czech Crowns a month in their first job - their counterparts in the Czech Republic are much worse off, as they get around 16,000 Czech Crowns a month.