The number of foreign students at Czech universities has experienced a remarkable surge since the turn of the millennium. These students predominantly cite their appreciation for the quality of education and the abundant opportunities for a vibrant student life in the country. However, they also express certain reservations about the high cost of living, the relatively limited income prospects, and the linguistic challenges associated with mastering the Czech language.
Olivia Dimitrisina, an exemplar of this trend, made a conscious choice to pursue her master’s studies in Brno. She humorously admits, “I had never been to the Czech Republic. It was only later that I looked at a map to see where Brno actually is.” Nonetheless, she stands by her decision with no regrets. Following careful deliberation, she opted for the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University, primarily due to its strong focus on the technical aspects of her chosen field. In her own words, “The school exuded an aura of professionalism that I found immensely appealing. It not only allowed ample room for creativity but also imparted knowledge and skills that were conspicuously absent during my bachelor’s degree. I particularly relished the freedom to select my subjects and concentrate on areas that truly piqued my interest.”
Dimitrisina is just one among the 50,000-plus foreign students who have made the Czech Republic their academic home. This figure represents a substantial increase from the less than 9,000 foreign students at the turn of the millennium.
In 2022, the number of non-Czech students enrolled in Czech universities reached an all-time pinnacle. These students hailed from a diverse array of 166 countries and constituted an impressive 18% of the total university student body. Michal Uhl, the director of the House of Foreign Cooperation (DZS), views this as an unequivocal boon. He emphasizes that internationalization augments the overall quality of education, fosters cultural diversity, and, importantly, equips Czech graduates with a global perspective that is indispensable in today’s interconnected world. In his words, “Internationalization is one of the important indicators of a school’s quality, which is measured by prestigious international rankings such as the QS University Ranking.”
Several universities in the Czech Republic actively court international students through contemporary teaching methodologies, a secure environment, extensive partnerships with foreign institutions, and a thriving social milieu. Antonín Janák, spokesperson for the University of Economics, explains, “Applicants are attracted in particular by modern teaching supported by foreign accreditations, a safe location, an extensive network of partner schools, and a rich social life.”
Among international students, the most favored fields of study encompass business, administration, law, health and social care, and information and communication technology.
While the number of foreign students temporarily dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has since experienced a resurgence and is once again on an upward trajectory.
Avraham Yamin, originally hailing from Israel, ultimately chose to study public finance and economics in the Czech Republic. He initially considered universities in Spain and Germany but was deterred by their relatively higher costs. To his surprise, he found the cost of living in the Czech Republic to be higher than anticipated. Nevertheless, he remains appreciative of the international ambiance. As he puts it, “It’s manageable. It’s worth it to live in an interesting city with great transport and an international environment.”
In terms of destination, Prague continues to reign supreme as the top choice for international students, followed by Brno, Olomouc, and Ostrava.
Despite the linguistic challenges and the persistent issue of higher living costs, many international students express a strong desire to remain in the Czech Republic after completing their studies. They cherish the country’s rich culture, unique lifestyle, and the educational opportunities it offers, even though financial concerns continue to be a point of contention.