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LN: Czech university wants habilitation in foreign language

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Prague, May 10 (CTK) – Masaryk University in Brno wants habilitation theses, for which the docent academic degree is granted, only to be written, defended and assessed in English or in another world language as of 2021 as the first Czech public higher education facility, Lidove noviny (LN) writes yesterday.

The Masaryk University Academic Senate decided on this change recently to meet international standards.

“We have agreed that the local (academic) community is so small and interlinked by personal bonds to such a high extent in the Czech Republic that we must open the assessment to an international community,” Masaryk University Rector Mikulas Bek told LN.

Technical University (CVUT) in Prague is considering this step, too. Its management supports an international character of habilitation commissions with foreign members, Zbynek Skvor, its deputy rector for research, said.

“A habilitation thesis about Byzantine literature written by a Czech woman in German was defended at the Faculty of Arts today. The opponents came from Vienna and Cyprus,” Bek tweeted.

Besides, Masaryk University plans to introduce the duty to write doctoral theses in a foreign language, too, he indicated.

LN writes that a number of Czech faculties push for their graduate and post-graduate students to write their MA and doctoral theses in English, which is quite common in biology and chemistry already, however this is no rule.

Charles University (UK) in Prague, the largest and oldest university in the country founded in 1348, which has 17 faculties, does not plan anything like that so far, its spokesman Vaclav Hajek told LN.

However, dissertations and sometimes even MA works have been written in foreign languages at UK’s Faculty of Science for several years, LN adds.

Palacky University in Olomouc, north Moravia, the second oldest university in the Czech Republic, founded in 1573, accepts habilitation theses in English, but this is not obligatory, and the school does not plan laying down any rule in this respect either, its Deputy Rector Petr Bilik said.

LN writes that there are apparent advantages of university theses in a foreign language since science and research are supranational activities and their results should be globally comprehensible and assessable. It is also easier to publish a thesis written in a foreign language abroad.

However, not all agree with the introduction of the habilitation process in a foreign language at Masaryk University. Its critics have expressed fears of difficulties during the translation of some specific Czech terminology as well of of the a decline in the Czech expert language if foreign languages were preferred, LN writes.

Bek admits that the first argument is relevant in some special fields, such as law.

The university will be able to make an exception, for instance, for docents in Czech literature. However, its academic council must always approve this, LN says.

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