4) Get a technical education with hands on experience: The life of CVUT students

Renowned for its technology focussed programs, CVUT gives students with a technical mindset the chance to learn from some of the best professors in the field, while gaining hands-on work experience in practical internships.

Photo: Pavel Cyprich,  Czech Radio

Walking through the campus of CVUT in Prague 6, one might forget that they’re just outside of the bustling city centre. Tucked in the north western end of Prague, CVUT offers the campus feel of a student city, with a 15 minute public transport trip to the heart of downtown, giving students the best of both worlds.

Ernesto, a Masters student from Mexico City, says he fell in love with CVUT and the campus life a few years back during an exchange program.

“I came here four years ago for a few months on a winter exchange program. I was able to meet one of the professors at the school, he gave me a tour and I absolutely fell in love with how beautiful the campus is and how smart the students are. From then on, I decided to make it my life mission to come back to Prague to study my Masters program.”

The technical mindset of other students at CVUT is something that Ernesto loves, and says would be difficult to find anywhere else.

Ernesto Iván Ochoa Hidalgo | Photo: Archive of Ernesto Iván Ochoa Hidalgo

“I think what really makes the school unique is that you’re able to meet students with technical mindsets. So many of them have awesome projects going on- for example, my girlfriend works with rockets, I have friends who have started their own companies and they already have products deployed on the market. I have classes with all these people, and there’s so many of us that are striving to complete all these amazing projects, and that makes the school standout from other universities.”

The many projects and opportunities for students to roll up their sleeves and get hands-on experience is a pillar of CVUT, something that Erika Lahka, Internationalisation Project Manager at the university says is a priority.

“I would say we attract students mainly because of the quality of our education. There are many factors why CVUT is great. First of all, we are the second or third best university in the country according to the QS World University Ranking, this attracts students a lot. Secondly, the science and research and the student involvement in research projects and teams. Plus, Prague is an amazing city to live and study in, and that’s why we like to promote the school as the perfect place for student life, not only because of the quality of our education, but also the opportunities after graduation.”

Photo: Magdalena Hrozínková,  Radio Prague International

The many opportunities students get to participate in projects during their studies leads many international students to stay on in Prague after graduation, as Erika explains.

Erika Lahka | Photo: Archive of Erika Lahka

“About half or one third of the students already work while they study. They do part time work which is legal on their visa. This goes hand in hand and allows them to use their knowledge from school in their jobs. Students who study IT programs are often involved in IT companies where they can develop their skills. We put a lot of emphasis on the career opportunities after graduation, we have a career centre that helps students to pass smoothly into the labour market, and most students are staying here. They see the opportunities available to them, and that the European Union labour market is open to them.”

On top of unique working opportunities, CVUT also allows students to connect with other higher education institutions across the EU, as they are part of the European Alliance. This gives students the chance to take courses and work on projects from different universities across the continent.

Photo: Jiří Ryszawy,  ČVUT

“CVUT is a part of the European University Alliance, and this allows students to participate in work at 6 other European technical universities. Students can now get involved in projects amongst the universities, they can take virtual courses where they can get credits too. It’s an advantage for the students which allows them to dip their toes in the waters of different schools and apply the knowledge inside of CVUT as well. So you can do courses, or participate in projects. Usually these projects are presented on a European level, so the students will travel to Brussels to present in front of the European commission.”

Farhaan Hussain, a recent graduate from the university, originally from India, is one of those students who is staying on in Czechia after completing his education. He says the skills he’s learned at CVUT have translated into finding his dream job after graduation.

Farhaan Hussain | Photo: Archive of Farhaan Hussain

“I have a good job, and I love it and I’ve been dreaming of working at this company. I’m not boasting, but I work for companies like Hyundai, Porsche, and Volkswagen, so something I design and make is being implemented in vehicles from these car companies, and they run on roads where I can see them. I feel very proud that I’ve made something that is being used by people and they are loving it. It’s the best thing I could ask for, and I will stay in Prague until my mind or heart wants to. As long as I’m enjoying and learning it’s great here.”

The rich culture of international students is also something both Farhaan and Ernesto enjoy. When it comes to getting a snapshot of daily life as an international student at CVUT, Ernesto puts it this way.

Photo: Jiří Ryszawy,  ČVUT

“If you allow yourself to go and meet some international students, your usual day starts by waking up and meeting someone from Turkey or Korea, grabbing lunch and then heading to classes. Then you might meet someone from India, some Czech and Slovak people, and then have a lesson. Afterwards, we go for dinner, and when you sit down there is someone from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Estonia, Japan and Sweden. We’re all able to sit down together and joke around, sharing one another's cultures. We’re able to meet people who have a completely different culture, who grew up in totally different environments and who have a mindset than you. The fact that we’re able to share these things and learn from each other is amazing.”

This diversity translates to a comfortable and open study culture, as Farhaan describes is something he loves about studying in Prague.

Photo: Jiří Ryszawy,  ČVUT

“I would say I love the community, the group of friends I have, and of course the public transit! There are many things I love, I can’t just pick one. But I would say the community side is the best part. There are few people who are narrow minded, and most people are very open with their thoughts, it feels very comfortable.”

Ensuring the smooth transition for students coming to Prague is a top priority for CVUT, and their student run buddy program helps with this, as Ernesto explains.

“The buddy program is run by volunteers, and you can sign up to either adopt or be adopted by a local student. The majority of the volunteers are Czech, but there are also some Slovak volunteers. Ideally, the buddy will pick you up from the airport, bring you to your accommodation, teach you how to use the transport system, show you the campus and share with you the important contacts. But most importantly, their job is to welcome you into the new country. Most people come alone, and it’s scary when you don’t speak the language. So having a friendly face waiting for you when you get to the airport is an absolute help for students.”

Farhaan has also enjoyed sharing his culture from his homeland of India with his friends and colleagues here in Czechia.

“Coming from India, I contribute with the spices and food, of course! But also some different cultures, we have very diverse religions in our society, and so many traditions: clothing, food and languages. So I bring a lot of diversity in just one person. From Czech culture, I don’t like the food, but I love their bakeries!”

CVUT is the ideal place for any students looking to push the boundaries of traditional post-secondary education and get hands-on experience, while enjoying the family-like feel of a tight-knit community of welcoming and diverse international students.

Photo: Jiří Ryszawy,  ČVUT