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13. 5. 2008 14:58

May 19, 2008: Future of University Education Lies in Greater Support of Gifted Students

Experts have today commenced discussions on the future of Czech university education as part of the Innovation Forum. The overall strategy and development for the coming years are described in the so-called White Paper on Tertiary Education, which has just been presented by Czech Premier Mirek Topolánek and Education Minister Ondřej Liška.

“Success in the world today depends on quality education. If we want to succeed in global competition, we have to open our universities to more students and give them a greater degree of autonomy and responsibility. We need universities that will get among the world top and - on the other hand - we need more students at the lower, bachelor-type level,“ says Premier Mirek Topolánek.

In the Premier´s view, the system of financing education must be changed to motivate gifted students, while investing into schools with good results and helping universities to cooperate better with private companies in research and innovation. The Government wants to take a greater part of the reform steps contained in the White Paper still before the end of its term of office. “We really have no time for further hesitation if we want to join the world’s first league in competitiveness. Small countries, such as Finland or Estonia, have succeeded in doing that, and I believe we can manage as well,“ Premier Topolánek added.

Work on the White Paper stemmed from the discussions on the general draft of the reform of Czech tertiary education at the Government meeting held at Koloděje on March 7, 2007. After elaborating the principal points from June 2007, the first draft of the document, incorporating comments and suggestions from a number of institutions and personalities, is now being tabled for public debate.

“If we narrowed the launched public debate on the future of university education down to a discussion of an eventual introduction of school fees, I would take this as disparaging the work done by the whole team participating in the preparation of the White Paper. In actual fact, school fees play no key part in the wording of the White Paper, and this Government - in keeping with its policy statement - will not introduce school fees either,“ says Education Minister Ondřej Liška.

Work undertaken by the White Paper team links up to the status report on the Czech university education prepared by OECD experts (Tertiary Education Review) in 2006. Experience from advanced countries makes it abundantly clear that a high-quality and strong tertiary education sector is a driving force of economic and social development. The strategy of tertiary education proceeds from the provision that if Czech university education is to play this particular role, its reform must be taken concurrently in a number of areas, only then will it be efficient and will it bring anticipated effects.

Jana Bartošová, spokesperson of the Government of the Czech Republic

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