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The trouble with universities – Part II

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Table of Contents

7)The trouble with accreditation:

The accreditation process turned into bureaucratic frenzy, many accreditations are based on “flying professors”. Accreditation committee, however, plays a positive role as a watchdog of university education quality.

Above all, it is necessary to amend unsatisfactory ministerial regulation and increase authority of the accreditation committee so that it could grant accreditation to high-quality institutions for an indefinite period of time and also to a wider range of subjects. It would be the best, though, to keep the same strict type of accreditations for the new or lower-quality institutions.

8) Incompetence and cumbersomeness of university senates:

Universities govern these elected, self-governing bodies and this system enabled to gain and preserve academic freedom and universities’ independence of political and financial interest groups.

Limited operation range of the self-governing bodies represents a general problem of democracy, which, however, does not warrant for the advantages of the democratic system to be overlooked let alone cancel the system. There are recipes for improvement but that would require a separate article.

9) Low mobility of academic staff, self-impregnation, mutual support of the average and below-average, hostility towards those coming from outside:

Number of subjects is rising. Some subjects serve as disposals for average pedagogues.

Foreign teachers and people from Czech companies will only come to our stale academic waters when offered a respectable salary. Grants aimed at visiting professors and pressure to use them would be of help.

It is also necessary to make acquisition of docent and professor titles easier for those coming from abroad or from a field practice.

10) Low mobility of students:

Caused by tradition, indolence, and failure to accept grades from foreign exchange programme: situation worsened after introduction of structured programmes. This can only be helped by the politics that will try to motivate more students and schools. This measure requires more finances too.

11) Discrimination of older students:

Lift the age limitation for student advantages. Requires more money.

12) Lower interest in doctoral programmes:

It is necessary to immediately valorise state scholarship (currently a laughable CZK 6,000 per month) at least to the Slovak level (EUR 500 per month).

PhD students are the basis of the expert development of universities. They will run away to our richer or more foresighted neighbours if current financial conditions do not change.

State scholarship should at least cover for a bare existence at the dorm. Students do need to get extra income for above-standard living. It would be best if they did it by work connected to their studies.

13) Laws and regulations do not reflect upon special character of university teachers’ job:

Solution: renew the possibility of continual work contracts for a specified period of time, define clear rules for a tenure, cancel the obligation to note down working time.

On the other hand, there is no reason for a university teacher to be entitled to eight weeks of holidays every year. An average university teacher will really spend those eight weeks at a cottage house since Czech universities are completely empty in the summer months.

This is something unheard of in the developed countries. A typical western European university is teeming with research and various courses.

Holidays offer the perfect time for a visit of a befriended institution. University teacher should have a right to creative holiday but some scientific or artistic piece of work should be created during this time.

The author is a professor at Prague’s Czech Technical University. He was a representative at the council of post-secondary schools during discussion on the ministerial proposal of law on tertiary education.

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