Prague's University of Economics

Before 1989, Prague's University of Economics was the only institution of its kind in Czechoslovakia and many of the current generation of politicians and economists went there - Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the head of the Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, among them.

The University of Economics was founded in 1919 by a decree from the Czechoslovak National Assembly - a year after Czechoslovakia itself was founded. In those days the university was part of the Technical University. The Communists came to power in 1948 and a year later it became the University of Political and Economic Science before getting its current title in 1953.

The University of Economics now has two campuses - the more well known one is in Zizkov, behind Prague's main train station. The other campus is way out in the concrete jungle of Jizni Mesto - on the southern outskirts of the city. The latter is mostly attended by first and second year students. I recently visited the university's Zizkov campus. There was a sign on the door - no smoking, no bikes, no dogs, no guns and no cameras. Microphones were not forbidden luckily and I spoke to a final-year student called Marek Vozar, who is from Kosice in eastern Slovakia. I began by asking him how many students attended the University of Economics.

"When I started it was 11,000 - now it's 15,000 because they take more and more students every year."

Does it mean that the lectures are too crowded?

"Not really because most of students are lazy and they don't go to the lectures when they don't have to."

Is it true that it's difficult to get the courses you want when you start here, because there are so many people?

"Yes. Most of the courses are full, so it's difficult for the first semesters to get in. Also there is a credit system so you need a certain number of credits to get to the courses."

Do many people drop out?

"I don't know the exact rate. I'd say 10, 15 maybe 20 percent. I don't know exactly."

And are many people you knew in first or second year not here now?

"Of course."

Why did they drop out?

"Mostly they were lazy, or maybe they had work, so it was easier for them."

And you yourself work?

"Yes, I work as a translator in an ITS company. I translate software from IBM to Czech."

Would you be able to live as a student without your job?

"Yes, because I live with my parents, so it's easy for me."

So basically you have a lot of money?

"No (laughs). Just enough for the pub, concerts, some good food - normal student life."