Expert: Shorter degree courses could attract more Czechs to universities
Czechia has the third lowest share of university graduates in the European Union, after Italy and Romania, according to a recent study published by the OECD. Only 26.67 percent of Czech residents between the ages of 25 to 64 have a university education, compared to the EU average of 37.67 percent. I discussed the situation with education expert Bob Kartous:
“This is the consequence of history, because in Czech Republic and in Czechoslovakia it was common trend to end the education process at the level of high school.
“Over the past 30 years, it has been changing, but the process is slow and the level of university and college graduates is still under the European Union average.
“This presents a problem both for the Czech society and the Czech labour market, because it suffers by the lack of people with qualification and skills from universities and colleges.”
So what do you think the government should do to attract more students to universities?
“I think that one way to raise the number of people studying colleges and universities is a plan presented by the current minister of education, Mikuláš Bek. He wants to encourage universities to open more practically oriented programs which should be shorter, three or four years long, and which should reflect more the requirements of the labour market and businesses.”
The OECD data also suggests that most tertiary educated adults in Czechia hold a master's degree. So could this also be one of the factors behind the low number of university educated people?
“Yes. I think this is exactly what the new education minister wants to address. A lot of programs have been running without a change for years. This may be the reason why a lot more people are going through the masters rather than bachelor programs, which are usually sufficient for those who want to be employed in the middle management or in the practically oriented jobs in health care and social care. In these cases, it is not necessary to study for five years or even longer.”
And finally, would you say that in order to attract more students to universities, the government needs to increase the level of spending?
“I am not sure if this is a question of spending, because we are talking about structural change. And I think that paradoxically, this structural change could save some of money in the budget.
“If we introduce short study programs and more people enrol in these programs, we could save money in the education sector that could actually be used for other purposes in the future.”