New Charles University rector wants to address equal opportunities in academia

Milena Králíčková

Charles University vice-rector and respected researcher Milena Králíčková was recently elected the university’s new rector. She will officially take up her post in February next year, becoming the very first woman to head the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic.

Milena Králíčková, who is 49, graduated in general medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Pilsen, where she has headed the Department of Histology and Embryology since 2011.

Since 2014 she has worked as a Vice-Rector for Student Affairs at Charles University and since 2019, she has also been one of the leaders of the European University Alliance 4EU+, coordinated by the Sorbonne in Paris, and a Fulbright Ambassador.

In an interview for Czech Radio, she said one of her goals as rector will be to achieve equal representation of women in the academic sphere:

Charles University | Photo: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International

“We have places in the academic world where equal opportunities have already been secured, but unfortunately, we also have places where this is not the case. And these are the ones I want to address in the future.”

Speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, which closed the university for most of the last academic year, Mrs Králíčková said she didn’t share the views of the outgoing rector Tomáš Zima, who questioned the importance of vaccinating young people and described the coronavirus as ‘media pandemic’.

“As far as the university is concerned, we have always fully respected all the regulations in place. We have dormitories where vaccination rates are up to 94 percent. And I am very happy that our students are responsible, they get inoculated and they take the problem seriously.”

With a fourth wave of Covid currently sweeping the Czech Republic Mrs. Králíčková says temporary closures of lecture halls and remote learning may happen again this academic year. At the same time, she says will do everything in her power to maintain full-time instruction in practical skills and laboratory exercises.

Photo illustrative: Filip Jandourek,  Czech Radio

Charles University is currently in the 218th spot in the Best Global Universities comparative ranking. In order for Czech universities to score better, Mrs. Králíčková believes funding needs to be improved. She also says raising the quality of education and science are high up on her list of priorities:

“It’s about the rigorous work at each individual faculty. It’s about making our research competitive. The more our teams succeed in international projects and grants, the more foreign academics we get here, the closer we will get to top university standards.”

“What is also important is the third role of the university, which is about how it reaches out to the society, from patents and licensing to collaboration with the public and government.”