In the Czech Republic, 26.67% of individuals aged 25 to 64 hold a university degree. This percentage falls below the European Union (EU) average of 37.67% for university graduates, with only Italy and Romania reporting lower rates. When compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, which have an average of 40.44% of individuals with tertiary education, the Czech Republic also lags behind. These statistics are based on the most recent OECD data for 2022.
Canada boasts the highest proportion of university graduates among OECD countries, with 63% of individuals aged 25 and over holding degrees. Japan, Ireland, and Korea follow closely behind. In particular, Ireland leads among EU countries, with 54% of its population having attained higher education. In the Czech Republic, approximately 27% are university graduates, according to researchers. Neighboring Germany reports a 33% university graduate rate, while Poland stands at 34%, Austria at 36%, and Slovakia at 29%. Italy and Romania have the lowest percentages of university graduates among EU countries, with just 20%.
Despite a decade-long decline in applications to higher education institutions in the Czech Republic, there is now a resurgence of interest. This year has seen an increase in applications to universities such as Charles University, the Czech Technical University, and the University of Chemical Technology in Prague, and this trend is expected to continue due to a rising demographic curve, especially from the academic year 2027/2028.
Higher education institutions, including the Czech Rectors’ Conference (CRC) and the Council of Higher Education Institutions (CHI), have highlighted the growing number of prospective students and the need for adequate preparation to accommodate them. They are advocating for an increase in funding from the state budget for higher education, as there is already a budget shortfall of approximately CZK 11 billion for universities.
Universities are requesting greater investment in university education and scientific research, citing that current spending on universities in the Czech Republic falls below the EU average. Without meeting these demands, universities may struggle to maintain educational quality and competitiveness. According to Milan Pospíšil, chairman of the Council of Universities, the Czech Republic allocates 0.86% of its GDP to tertiary education, compared to the EU average of 1.27%.
The Ministry of Finance has allocated CZK 253.4 billion for schools in the following year, a decrease of CZK 11.6 billion compared to the current year. However, Education Minister Mikuláš Bek (STAN) has stated that this proposal does not align with coalition agreements, and schools should not experience budget cuts. He asserts that universities should receive the same funding as in the current year, with CZK 30.9 billion earmarked for education at public universities, including an additional CZK 2.3 billion compared to the previous year. Approximately CZK 20 billion has been allocated for research and development in education this year, including funds from the EU.