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Universities say 700-million-crown budget rise insufficient

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Prague, Aug 25 (CTK) – The draft 2018 state budget Finance Minister Ivan Pilny (ANO) has to submit to the cabinet by the end of August projects a 700-million-crown increase in the sum to go to universities, which consider it absolutely insufficient, Charles University spokesman Vaclav Hajek told CTK today.

He said the increase, compared with this year’s budget of universities, was mentioned by Pilny at his Monday meeting with Charles University Rector Tomas Zima, who heads the Czech Rectors’ Conference (CKR).

He said the CKR will inform the media about their further steps on Monday.

Since 2012, the annual budget of universities has been around 21 billion crowns.

Former education minister Katerina Valachova (Social Democrats, CSSD, in office until June 2017) wanted the budget to be raised to 27 billion crowns next year, but the Finance Ministry proposed a mere 100-million increase in May.

Valachova’s successor in the post, Stanislav Stech (for the CSSD), promised to push for a higher increase.

Universities demand an increase by 4.5 billion crowns to raise the pay of academicians, support postgraduate students and cover necessary investments.

Hajek said the 700-million-crown increase proposed by Pilny would enable to raise university teachers’ wages by a few percent only.

“As a result, two categories might come to being in the Czech Republic. One group would see their wages rise by 15 percent, which they definitely deserve, and the other by a few percent only,” Hajek said, alluding to a plan to raise the pay of elementary and secondary school teachers, now under discussion.

Universities previously said they are ready to negotiate about their budget increase, which, however, should reach two billion crowns at least.

If they failed to achieve the sum, they would launch actions of pressure in September and October, they said.

Pilny has said he would like to increase the budget for universities, but he has no money to do so, since he is bound by the 2018 draft budget deficit of 50 billion crowns as approved by the cabinet in June.

He admitted that the cabinet might discuss a change to the budget gap at its meeting on September 4. He said he would not propose any change himself and he would abstain from the vote if a change were voted on.

($1=22.106 crowns)

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