Study: University student subsistence support in Czechia below EU average

The Czech Republic’s university study support system is outdated and needs to change, according to a newly released study conducted by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis. While in Czechia 1.5 percent of tertiary education expenses are spent on supporting student subsistence, the EU average is roughly twelve times higher.

The study, whose authors include the executive director of the academic think-tank IDEA at CERGE-EI, Daniel Münich, claims that financial support for university students is currently being distributed without any consideration for the individual’s own financial circumstances or their intellectual giftedness.

Public expenditure on student subsistence in the Czech Republic is among the lowest in the European Union, the study claims, highlighting that while in Czechia just 1.5 percent of tertiary education expenditure is allocated for this purpose, the EU average is 17.6 percent.

The average level of financial support for students up to the age of 26 currently ranges between CZK 2,700 to 5,300. Meanwhile, for those beyond that age it lies at around CZK 500.

High-school student and IDEA think-tank collaborator  Otakar Kořínek, who is one of the co-authors of the study, said that the Czech system is outdated in this concept and needs significant modernisation that would react to the changing structure and form of university education, as well as to the needs of students and the changes in modern society.

One of the aspects that Kořínek highlights as outdated is placing subsistence support under an age cap of 26-years-old or younger. The authors of the study believe that the age limit should be increased and recommend that, instead of the current tax relief system for parents of university students, a stipend or a significant boost to housing and social expenses support should be introduced.

The study also highlights the lack of any calls for a reform of the current student support system in the manifestos of parties running in this year’s elections into the Chamber of Deputies. Nor have they identified any intentions for such a reform within the plans of the Education Ministry and among Czech universities.

Since January 2021, a new strategy for university education, signed last year by Education Minister Robert Plaga, has been in effect. It places six priorities to focus on in the university education sector: preparing students for the job market of 21st century society, the strengthening of long-distance and life-long education, reform in the doctoral study system, support for outstanding research, the strengthening of university administration and the creation of a more efficient bureaucracy.