More than 18% of university students on Czech campuses are internationals

New data from the Czech Statistics Office show that one fifth of students on Czech campuses are internationals, and nearly half of those foreigners wish to stay on in Czechia after completing their studies. To understand these numbers and the appeal of Czechia as a place for students to establish themselves, I spoke with Michal Uhl, the director of the international-focused House of Foreign Cooperation organization in Prague.

One-fifth of students studying here in Czechia are internationals, and then half of those students end up wanting to stay in the country after they graduate. Why do you think Czechia has become such an appealing place for internationals to start their lives and careers?

Michal Uhl | Photo: Ondřej Tomšů,  Radio Prague International

“We believe Czechia is a smart choice for students that offers high quality education and an affordable cost of living. Moreover, the country is in a great location right in the centre of Europe, and it’s also one of the top ten safest countries in the world. The quality of education ranks quite high, and we have many universities here in Prague that are in the top 500 QS World University Ranking. We have a lot of data on how students think about Czech institutions, and 97% of international alumni recommended studying in Czechia.”

I’m curious if there have been specific changes made amongst academic institutions or amongst employers in order to make Czechia a more attractive place for internationals?

“It’s a complex question, and it will depend on the institution. We have 26 public institutions across the country, and there has been an increased emphasis on the well-being of students, and the services that universities offer, and we hope this continues to rise in the future. According to our research, over 70% of international students are satisfied with our services, buddy programs, and so on. The reputation of our institutions abroad is getting stronger and stronger.”

Naturally, if one-fifth of the students on Czech university campuses are internationals, it inherently means that Czech society is getting more diverse. What are the benefits of this?

Photo: Masaryk University in Brno

“We can start with the numbers – in the year 2001, we know that only two or three percent of students on campuses were internationals, and this year, we have more than 18 percent. This means that over the course of 20 years, the number of international students has increased every year. This has a significant impact on Czech higher education institutions, and a strong impact on Czech society.

"It’s important that people who are studying at our universities are exposed to international environments and different cultures. This gives them a more complex education, because the key role of university education is to understand the world, and you cannot understand the world without being exposed to international students.”

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