Prague, Sept 29 (CTK) – Czech universities should more cooperate with academic bodies outside the European Union, especially with universities in North America, South America and Asia, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said at the official opening of the academic year on Thursday.

“We need to support talented students who are capable of studying at foreign universities and create conditions for them. We cannot afford to lose talents,” he said.

Education Minister Katerina Valachova (CSSD) said her ministry will create a plan for support for foreign stays of Czech students by the end of the year.

She said foreign universities and foreign countries had strategies for supporting study at American and Asian universities.

Most student exchange programmes in the Czech Republic focus on other EU countries.

“We believe that our students can offer a lot and that our universities might be an interesting destination for students from these countries,” Valachova said.

She said more foreign experts should teach at Czech universities.

Czech Rectors’ Conference head Tomas Zima said the public universities can hardly be more open with their present budgets.

In 2017, the universities will get approximately 21.4 billion crowns from the state budget.

Valachova said she will try to find more money for the universities in 2018. She would like 18 percent of the Education Ministry’s budget to go to universities, she added.

As the ministry’s budget for next year is 147.8 billion crowns, universities would receive 26.6 billion if they were to get 18 percent of the sum.

Valachova said she considers unacceptable that assistant professors at teaching faculties earned 25,000 crowns a month in 2011-2015, while the average monthly pay at Czech universities was 41,800 crowns in this period of time.

Zima and other academics said it was sad universities were the only public sector whose budget would not increase in 2017.