Study finds 9 in 10 foreigners in Czech universities recommend studying here

Auslandsstudenten in Prag (Foto: Illustrationsfoto: Jiří Matoušek, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The vast majority of foreigners studying at Czech universities are happy with their programmes, their professors and the quality of life here, according to a new report based on a survey of over 10,000 students. Happiest of all are Slovaks, along with students enrolled in Czech-language programmes, it finds, while those studying in English tend to be somewhat less satisfied with the quality of instruction.

The new report, entitled “Studying and living in the Czech Republic from the perspective of foreign students”, is the based on the largest survey of its kind ever conducted in this country. The aim was to identify issues of particular concern to international students – and ultimately to help universities and policymakers better address them.

Earlier, I spoke to Jakub Tesař, head of the higher education department at the National Agency for International Education, which compiled the report in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and 55 Czech universities, both public and private.

“The main finding is that the students are basically quite satisfied with studying in the Czech Republic in general. The highlight is that 9 out of 10 would recommend studying here to their peers, which I think is great.

Illustrative photo: Griszka Niewiadomski / freeimages

“But if we go deeper, or course we see some problems or challenges that schools or the country must deal with. One of the findings is that there is a bit less satisfaction among students enrolled in the English-languages programmes.

“So, for example, we recommend that Czech universities really work on supporting those students, their teachers and the development of English-language programmes, so the quality will improve – and the satisfaction level be even higher.”

One in six students (16 percent) enrolled in Czech universities come from abroad. Of those, nearly half (45 percent) come from neighbouring Slovakia, few of whom study in English, since Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible.

“Slovak students are overwhelmingly satisfied studying here and, of course, they naturally feel integrated fully. The same with students who study in Czech – and that’s a large group, since one-fourth of foreign students come Slavic countries and can easily learn and study in Czech.

“So, students from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia, for example, Kazakhstan, feel much more integrated and also have no problem finding jobs. That’s an attractive feature of Czech education – they can work while they study, as long as they fulfil their duties in school.”

Less satisfied with the overall quality of instruction and level of support that their institutions provide, among other things, are international students earning their degrees in English-language programmes, the study shows.

Meanwhile, Jakub Tesař says, apart from addressing international students’ concerns, more could be done to make it easier for them to study here, in terms of clearing bureaucratic hurdles.

“The visa system is quite complicated for foreign students to come to the Czech Republic. Compared to those of some neighbouring countries, like Hungary and Poland, their process is much faster.”

The report’s conclusions will also be used to evaluate and plan further promotional activities under the Study in the Czech Republic initiative (https://www.studyin.cz) managed by the National Agency for International Education.

Highlights from the report ‘Studying and living in the Czech Republic from the perspective of foreign students':

  • The Czech Republic was the first choice as a study destination for 77% of respondents studying in Czech and for 54% of students studying in English.
  • Almost 88 percent of foreign students study at public institutions, with the remaining 12 percent at private colleges and universities.
  • In total, over 27% of international students come from the countries of the former Soviet Union, with the percent of students from Ukraine rising fastest in recent years.
  • The most popular fields of study among foreign students at Czech universities medicine, are economics, and technology (including ICT).
  • Especially students from Slovakia, Western Europe, Asia and Africa come to the Czech Republic to study medicine.
  • The social sciences are most popular with students from Russia, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, Africa, and North and Latin America.
  • For about two-thirds of foreign students, the Czech Republic was their first choice: this is most often the case for students from Slovakia, Russia and Eastern and South-eastern Europe.
  • Western Europe is predominantly represented by students from Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Most students from South and Southeast Asia are from India, and most from Central Asia are from Kazakhstan.
  • Countries with over 200 students in Czech institutions include India, Germany, China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, the United States, Israel, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Serbia and Norway.
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