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For the fun of it: More Americans study in ČR

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The number of American students in ČR is rising. The Czech Republic is 15th in a ranking the students’ favourite destinations. In the past six years, the number of overseas students has risen by 150%. They are lured by Prague, Václav Havel and Czech athletes. It’s not education they are interested in, but rather entertainment.

The most attractive destination for young Americans to study abroad is Great Britain, followed by Italy, Spain and France. The Czech Republic ranked 15th, with 3,145 Americans studying in the country last year.

“The language barrier plays a big role. Americans prefer English-speaking countries. When they visit a country like the Czech Republic, they are afraid they will not be able to make themselves understood. They are quite conservative in this and fearful,” said Hana Rambousková from the Fullbright Association, which mediates student exchange programmes between the US and the Czech Republic.

Americans come to study at the branches of American schools like New York University in Prague or the Anglo-American College. Besides these, American institutes in the Czech Republic hold their own education programmes and rent spaces from local schools. The Czech side, moreover, meets them halfway – some organisations like Collegium Hieronymi Pragensis prepare courses specifically designed for American students.

“All these programmes are distinctively cultural-educational and they should enhance students’ knowledge of foreign cultures. Often Americans look for entertainment abroad. Of course, this is different depending on each course, but some of them are actually more like a tourists,” said Jakub Tesař, a student advisor.

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Why don’t Americans study at Czech schools? “Our universities don’t do much marketing. Americans are lured by Prague, Český Krumlov, Václav Havel or Czech music, but they don’t know anything about the school system or its traditions. Moreover, the level of courses that are taught in English is lower than in western European countries,” said Hana Rambousková.

Czech schools of medicine that open paid programmes in English, however, are an exception. Foreigners can acquire the desired academic degree of MUDr faster, and the level of education at these schools is very good.

“The main reason why the schools are popular is, however, the financial accessibility of Czech medical programs, everything else is not that important,” Jakub Tesař said.

Charles University, Masaryk University, Prague’s University of Economics and the Czech Technical University (ČVUT) also offer a good level of education to foreign students.

American schools are starting to require that each student spends some time abroad. Through this step they want to face reality, as a large number of Americans have never left the United States and have very restricted knowledge of other states and cultures.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.

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