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Czech Republic Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in Czech Republic
Admissions to Higher Education in Czech Republic
Types of Higher Education Institutions in Czech Republic
Cycles of Higher Education in Czech Republic
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions


Higher education is realised at higher education institutions (vysoké školy) which form the highest level of the Czech education system. Higher education consists of three cycles:

• Bachelor’s degree programme (ISCED 5A), lasting 3–4 years,

• Master’s degree programme (ISCED 5A), lasting 1–3 years, or 4–6 years in case of programmes not following bachelor’s programmes (non-structured study programme),

• Doctoral degree programme (ISCED 6) lasting,3–4 years.

Higher education institutions are public, state and private. Under the Higher Education Act, they are classified as university type (24 public, 2 state and 3 private) which offer study programmes at all three levels of higher education and non-university type (2 public and 43 private) which offer mainly Bachelor’s programmes but may also provide Master’s programmes.

Completed secondary education with a school-leaving examination is the basic prerequisite for entry into Bachelor’s and non-structured Master’s programmes. Detailed admission requirements are set by a relevant higher education institution and usually include an entrance examination. Higher education can take forms of full-time courses, distance-learning courses or a combination of both. Students have to follow a study plan within an accredited degree programme; accreditation is awarded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on the basis of a recommendation of the Accreditation commission (akreditační komise). Study programmes at higher education institutions cover almost all areas of science and arts. They are usually subdivided into study fields which are, depending upon their content, included in the so-called basic study fields (see also the part Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure).

Studies are duly completed if students obtain their qualification through:

• a Bachelor’s degree programme which ends with the final state examination, part of which is usually the defence of a thesis, graduates are awarded the academic title Bachelor (Bc.), in the field of art, Bachelor of Arts (BcA),

• a Master’s degree programme which ends with the final state examination or Advanced Master’s Procedure (rigorózní zkouška), part of which is the defence of a thesis, graduates mostly obtain the academic title Master (Mgr.) or Engineer (Ing.),

• a Doctoral degree programme which ends with the state doctoral examination, graduates mostly obtain the academic title Doctor (Ph.D.).


First Cycle Programmes


Bachelor

Admission Requirements

Secondary education completed with a school-leaving examination (maturitní zkouška) confirmed by a school-leaving examination certificate (vysvědčení o maturitní zkoušce) is the fundamental requirement for entering a Bachelor’s degree programme. For fine arts degrees, applicants who have gained their graduate diploma (diplom absolventa konzevatoře) from a conservatoire may be admitted as well, in special cases also students without having completed secondary education with a school-leaving examination may be admitted.

A higher education institution (vysoká škola) or a faculty can set other conditions of the admission requirements concerning certain knowledge, competencies or talents or the achievement in the previous required education.

By the amendment to the 2004 Higher Education Act, a higher education institution or a faculty may set different conditions for admission not only of applicants who have completed a study programme or its part at a higher education institution - domestic or foreign, but also of applicants who have completed an accredited educational programme or its part in a tertiary professional school or who are studying an accredited educational programme in a tertiary professional school in the Czech Republic or a corresponding institution abroad. This amendment was intended to improve transition in the tertiary education sector, especially in transition whether from a tertiary professional school, higher education institution or a faculty/field.

Recognition of achievments of previous formal, non-formal and informal education is not set down in a systematic way, no standards and requirements for procedures in recognition of previous education achievments in relation to the quality of study were determined.

In general, admission to studies at higher educational institutions is limited primarily by the capacity of each institution. The number of students at public higher education institutions which will be funded in the academic year is limited at the central level by the amount of money allocated to the school through formula funding (for more details, see the chapter on Funding in Education, the section on Higher Education Funding).

A particular higher education institution decides on the number of students in individual fields and forms of study (see also chapters: Organisation and Governance and Higher Education Funding).

People may apply for admission to several degree programmes (or to several study fields in one study programme) at one faculty or a higher education institution or at several faculties or higher education institutions at the same time.

An entrance examination can be part of admission proceedings at higher education institutions; it helps to select the most able applicants and to establish a list determining the order in which they are to be admitted depending on conditions set in advance. The content and the form of the examination are entirely upon responsibility of the relevant higher education institution. It normally consists of written examinations (tests) that aim to assess the applicant’s knowledge. Tests of study skills (student’s abilities – e.g. verbal thinking, analytical thinking, and spatial visualisation ability) may also be included; exceptionally, tests of study prerequisites are the only criterion for admission. Some higher education institutions organise admission interviews with applicants. Some higher education institutions use average results of the previous study as a criterion for admission. However, due to the decreasing number of students in upper secondary schools, some higher education institutions are beginning to feel student shortage in certain fields of study (e.g. in some technically oriented fields), thus passing the upper secondary school leaving examination is sufficient for admission.

Tests of artistic talent are used by higher education institutions, usually for admission to performing and fine arts programmes and for primary school teacher training. They help to determine the applicant’s artistic talent. Talent examinations usually precede examinations in theory.

A report on the result of the admission proceedings is made public within 15 days of the final day of the proceedings. If an admission examination is included, basic statistics related to all its parts are released. Decisions on admission or non-admission must be given in writing and delivered to the applicant within 30 days.

If a course is offered by a faculty, the dean decides on admission. If it is taught at a university, the decision is upon the rector. A decision on non-admission may be appealed against within a set time limit. If a dean refuses the appeal, the rector may change a decision that was issued in conflict with the law, with an internal regulation of the institution or with conditions set by the university or the faculty itself. At private higher education institutions, admission is decided on by a body which is established and based on internal regulations.

When applicants are accepted for a degree programme, they have the right to be enrolled in the institution. On the day of enrollment, the applicant becomes a student.

Students need not go on to higher education immediately on completing their secondary schooling. There is no legal age limit for commencing higher education studies. The Higher Education Act makes it possible to study on more than one programme at more than one higher education institution either in parallel or successively. Under specific conditions (see the chapter Higher Education Funding), studies can be fee-based.

An applicant is free to choose any higher education institution; the application for the study may be submitted simultaneously to several institutions. Admission to a specific programme is dependent on the student’s achievement in the admission proceedings and is limited by local conditions and the number of places in some fields. Since 2010, the changes in financing of higher education institutions have been in progress with the aim to limit number of enrolled students step by step as due to the demographic decrease, the number of enrolled students would increase considerably in comparison to the population cohort.

Curriculum

Deciding about the content of studies and the design of degree programmes is one of the academic freedoms of higher education institutions (vysoké školy) in the Czech Republic. There are only general provisions concerning study programmes contained in Articles 44-27 of the Higher Education Act. However, all study programmes are subject to accreditation which is granted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on the basis of a decision by the Accreditation Commission (see the chapter Organisation and Governance). For the accreditation of a study programme, a higher education institution is obliged to complete and submit a written and by law specified application. General minimum requirements for processing an application for accreditation are described in the chapter Quality Assurance.

Conditions to be met by students during their studies and upon the regular completion of them are determined in the curriculum, according to the study and examination regulations, and further by the content and scope of the final state examinations.

Curriculum is part of the application for accreditation. The basis of individual subjects is formed by a list of compulsory references. For compulsory subjects and those which are compulsorily optional, a short summary is required to define objectives of the courses, their specialisation - that is, in the terminology of the Bologna process, learning outcomes. Rules for inclusion of study subjects or their parts into the curriculum are required in terms of their content and chronological succession or methods and conditions of study control according to the curriculum. For the Bachelor’s degree programme implemented to a higher education institution of a non-university type (in other types of courses as needed), the content and the scope of professional practice in full-time study must be determined.

Study in a foreign language

All study programmes include study of one or more foreign languages (in case of structured study mostly in the framework of the Bachelor’s study programme). If the conditions are favourable (e.g. a foreign teacher is available), the instruction of some subjects may be conducted in a foreign language.

At several faculties (e.g. medicine, but not only there), foreign students may, for a certain fee, undergo entire studies in a foreign language. The Centre for Equivalence of Documents about Education operating within the Centre for Higher Education Studies created the database on study programmes at Czech higher education institutions on its website, which enables to find study programmes in English language. The National Agency for European Educational Programmes, which is the part of the Centre for International Services of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, prepares numerous activities presented on web pages under the general title "Study in the Czech Republic". These include www.studyin.cz website that provides basic information about the Czech Republic, its higher education system, about study and life in the country and useful news, as well as preparation and distribution of information materials, cooperation with Czech embassies and Czech Centres abroad and information services for universities. Individual higher education institutions make their offer of accredited programmes in a foreign language public on their websites. One-year courses of Czech are offered to foreign students who express their interest in studying in Czech language before commencement of their studies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching is realised through the form of lectures, seminars, exercises, laboratory work and practice (e.g. clinical practice of medical students, teaching observation of student-teachers in schools etc.).

Attendance at lectures and other forms of teaching is determined by the higher education institution (vysoká škola) itself. Participation in seminars is usually obligatory.

The fact that most higher education institutions (including halls of residence) are equipped with computer technology makes it possible for students to opt for self-study, working independently with information, study materials, laboratories and computer technology.

Due to autonomy of higher education institutions, they have free choice of teaching aids and equipment in accordance with their budget capacity. Higher education institutions present space, information and equipment assurance of the degree programme and the basic study literature and aids of individual subjects in the application for accreditation.

Progression of Students

Students may be enrolled in a higher year of a higher education institution (vysoká škola) after passing the prescribed examinations, possibly other types of study assessment (hereafter only examinations) or after achieving the prescribed number of credits, see below the section Student Assessment.

In case of failure, the study and examination regulations of a higher education institution allow for exams to be retaken as well as whole years can be repeated. However, this means that the student usually loses time, which has financial consequences (if the standard length of studies is exceeded by more than one year, the student becomes liable for fees – see the chapter Higher Education Funding). In some cases, the student also loses certain social advantages such as a scholarship or the right for accommodation in a hall of residence, or social allowances for students older than 26.

Students can choose to interrupt their studies on terms set by study and examination regulations which define the longest possible period for interruption of the study.

Generally, higher education institutions set so-called "maximum length of study in a degree programme" (e.g. at Charles University, it is the standard length of study programme plus 3 years).

If students discover that the choice of a study programme or a study field does not suit them, they may transfer to another study programme or study field at the same faculty or higher education institution or at another faculty or higher education institution. If a part of the study programme he /she has already completed is sufficiently compatible with the newly chosen study field, the results achieved are counted either in the original programme or in the new field or programme. If this is not the case, it is recommended that they bridge the gap by taking special examinations for transferring among courses. Transfers from one study programme or study field to another or from one institution to another are also possible if the student later finds out that he / she does not have sufficient knowledge or abilities to master the programme or the field of study originally chosen. Recognition of the previous study depends on the accepting institution. The previous study length is counted in the standard study length of the new study programme or the study field. This is important especially for calculation of fees when a student exceeds the standard length by more than one year (see the chapter Higher Education Funding).

A change of a programme or a field of study during the course of studies is possible. However, there is an effort to prevent this by ensuring that students choose an appropriate programme or a field of study. Different types of guidance and counselling services are set to prevent the student turnover from one programme or field to the another programme or field (see the chapter Educational Support and Guidance). Preparatory courses also help to avoid students changing their study programme or field.

Student Assessment

Study outcomes at higher education institutions are assessed mainly by a system of credits. All public higher education institutions (vysoké školy) and most private higher education institutions have implemented the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) or a system compatible with ECTS. Higher education institutions received 5 ECTS Label certificates. (They are even more successful with DS Label certificates. They were granted to 20 of 26 public higher education institutions and three private higher education institutions.)

Results of the assessment are recorded in a report on studies and can also be provided by the electronic information system of the higher education institution or faculty.

Monitoring the study of a subject, continuous assessment of study, equivalency test, comprehensive examination, state examination or its part (see below the section Certification) are the usual forms of assessing study results.

Successful completion of the courses is usually monitored in the form of a colloquium, credit, final examination project, examination and a combination of all of these.

The frequency and methods of assessing students’ achievements differ among higher education institutions and faculties. In some cases, a system of partial examinations taken after each semester has been introduced, in other cases there is one comprehensive examination after each completed part of the studies – most often at the end of a certain module. Higher education institutions offering arts programmes use students’ exhibitions, musical performances etc. as a basis for assessment. In both cases, however, considerable emphasis is also placed on continuous assessment of the students’ work, mostly in the form of tests of knowledge or independent work (on computers, graphic work, laboratory work or seminar work) or independent artistic work.

Organisation of examinations is legally embedded in study and examination regulations, which are part of internal regulations of a higher education institution and are approved by the academic senate.

In general, examinations are taken during an examination period at the end of each semester. Examiners are the teachers of individual subjects. The relevant examiners set dates of individual examinations and the dates of all examinations are announced by the management of the institution (faculty). In some cases, it is possible to take an examination before the agreed official date. A failed exam may be retaken several times. Final examinations are taken in front of boards of examiners. In order to increase the level of objectivity, external examiners from other higher education institutions or scientific establishments are invited to sit on the boards and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports can also appoint other significant specialists in the given field to the examination boards. Special care is taken to authorise only the most qualified academic staff.

The Bachelor’s thesis, if prescribed, is part of the final state examination.

Certification

A Bachelor’s degree programme generally finishes with a final state examination (státní závěrečná zkouška), which usually includes defence of a thesis.

Studies are considered to be completed on the day when the last part of a state examination is taken.

A higher education diploma (vysokoškolský diplom) and a supplement to the diploma (dodatek k diplomu) are documents confirming completion of studies and the right to use the appropriate academic title.

Higher education institutions have the right to award a higher education qualification (diploma) only in accredited degree programmes (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral). Accreditation to a particular higher education institution is granted by the state (the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports).

Successful completion of the Bachelor’s degree programme is a prerequisite for admission to a Master’s degree programme (see the chapter Second Cycle Programmes).

Regional Authorities are competent bodies in assessing a qualification that enables access to higher education. The Convention on Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (see the chapter Mobility and Internalisation) is the guiding document on recognition of higher education degrees.

Public higher education institutions carrying out, as for the content of the study, similar study programmes are competent bodies for recognition of higher education or its part. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports can issue a decision on recognition of the study or its part if this is authorised by a contract between the Czech Republic and the country where the foreign higher education institution is established and recognised. In other cases, it is the public higher education institution that provides a similar study programme in respect of its content which issues the decision. When in doubt, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports decides about the appropriate public higher education institution or makes the decision itself (see also the chapter Mobility and Internalisation).

Important services, particularly in terms of information and guidance, are provided to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and to higher education institutions by the Centre for Equivalence of Documents on Education, which is part of the European networks of information centres ENIC and centres NARIC, which operate within the EU. The Centre for Equivalence of Documents on Education operates within the Centre for Higher Education Studies in Prague (see chapters: Organisation and Governance and Mobility and Internationalisation).


Second Cycle Programmes


Branches of Study

are intended to promote the acquisition of theoretical knowledge based on current scientific and scholarly knowledge, research and development and to lead students to apply this knowledge and develop their creative facilities. In the area of fine arts, they are designed to provide demanding artistic training and encourage the development of students’ talents.

Master’s degree programmes follow on from Bachelor’s degree programmes; the standard length of such a programme is no less than one and no more than three years. One standard academic year corresponds to 60 ETCS credits. Most Master’s degree programmes last two years (120 ECTS).

Most higher education institutions (vysoké školy) have already implemented the three-cycle study structure, thus Master’s degree programmes are accredited as a follow up to Bachelor’s degree programmes with the exception of a traditional non-structured Master‘s programme. In such a case, the standard length of study is no less than four and no more than six years (usually five years). This is particularly the case of medicine, law, primary teacher training, etc. These non-structured ”long“ Master’s degree programmes are included in the chapter Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master structure.

Formulation and provision of degree programmes belong to recognised academic rights and freedoms of higher education institutions (see the chapter Administration and Governance at Local /or Institutional Level). A degree programme can be divided into study fields. Their characteristics and their combination, as well as definition of the graduate’s profile, are part of the relevant degree programme accredited by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (for more information on the accreditation, see the chapter Quality Assurance, section Quality Assurance in Higher Education).

Degree programmes can take forms of full-time courses, distance-learning courses or a combination of both. The combined form is common; the distance-learning form is accredited only at two higher education institutions in three fields (for more, see the chapter First cycle programmes, the section Bachelor).

Admission Requirements

Successful completion of a Bachelor‘s degree programme is the condition for admission to a Master‘s degree programme following on from a Bachelor’s degree programme. In some cases, though, a higher education institution (vysoká škola) may also set further conditions relating to particular study fields or a number of credits gained in certain subjects, e.g. a higher education institution can lay down a duty on students to pass some basic subjects that they had not passed in their previous study in the Bachelor’s programme.

The Standards of the Accreditation Commission point out that admission to a Master’s degree programme following on from a Bachelor’s degree programme should be open to all graduates of Bachelor’s programmes of the same or a related field. Admission may be subject only to the applicants’ meeting of the predefined requirements.

Restrictions in the number of students and the admission process are similar to the Bachelor’s programme. The general principles are the same. (See the chapter on Admission Requirements to Bachelor’s Study Programmes.)

An entrance examination can be part of an admission proceeding to a Master’s degree programme. The content and the form of the examination are entirely upon the responsibility of the relevant higher education institution.

In 2009, more than 80% of Bachelors follow on the Master’s degree programme, that is why the vast majority of Czech graduates leave higher education institutions with a Master’s degree. Nowadays, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports decreases this proportion with the help of financial mechanisms. It is supposed that no more than 50% of Bachelors will continue in a Master’s degree programme in the future. For more information on tuition fees and other payments, see the chapter Higher Education Funding.

Curriculum

General principles are the same as for Bachelor’s degree programmes (see the chapter Bachelor, section Curriculum).

In the minimum general requirements of the Accreditation Commission, it is explicitly stated for the content of education in Master’s degree programmes:

1. The content of a Master’s degree programme and its potential field (hereinafter the Master’s programme) must be based on the contemporary state of scientific knowledge, research and development, artistic or other creative activities in the field, and must correspond to the objectives of study and enable the achievement of a specified graduate’s profile.

2. A graduate must have the quality of a Master’s programme graduate of a higher education institution (vysoká škola) – the ability of independent professional activity, the ability to analyse the latest trends in the field, the ability to prepare and participate in research activities.

Teaching Methods

General principles are the same as for Bachelor’s degree programmes (see the chapter First Cycle Programmes, the section Teaching Methods).

Progression of Students

General principles are the same as for a Bachelor’s degree programme (see the chapter First Cycle Programmes, the part on Progression of Students). Further conditions are included in Study and Examination Regulations of higher education institutions (vysoké školy) or faculties. A maximum period of study is embedded in internal regulations of higher education institutions (at Charles University, it is the standard length plus 3 years). Student Assessment

General principles are the same as for a Bachelor’s degree programmes (see the chapter First Cycle Programmes, the part on Student Assessment). Further conditions are included in Study and Examination Regulations of higher education institutions (vysoké školy) or faculties. The diploma thesis is part of the final state examination (státní závěrečná zkouška).

Certification

A Master’s degree programme finishes with a final state examination (státní závěrečná zkouška); the defence of a thesis is its part.

Studies are considered to be completed on the day when the corresponding state examination or its last part was taken.

A higher education diploma (vysokoškolský diplom) and a supplement to the diploma (dodatek k diplomu) are documents confirming completion of studies and the right to use the appropriate academic title.

Higher education institutions (vysoké školy) have the right to award a higher education qualification (diploma) only in accredited study programmes. Accreditation to a particular higher education institution is granted by the state (the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports). Successful completion of the Master's degree programme is a prerequisite for admission to a doctoral programme; their graduates obtain the title Ph.D., eventually Th.D. (for more, see the chapter Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes).

Apart from this, after being awarded the title magistr, graduates of a Master's degree programme can sit for an advanced study examination (státní rigorózní zkouška) in the same field. This includes the defence of an advanced study thesis. Doctor in the respective field, so-called “small doctorate” (rigorózum) (Advanced Master Degree) is the title awarded. Accreditation for advanced master proceeding is awarded by the Ministry of Education after the recommendation of the Accreditation Commission. The condition for positive opinion of the Accreditation Commission is that the a higher education institution has already accredited a content-related doctoral study programme. In terms of qualification level, Advanced Master Degree is a Master level qualification. Conditions of an advanced master proceeding are regulated by the regulation for this proceeding.


Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure


Master's non-structured study programmes

Higher Education Act No. 111/1998 has introduced the structure of higher education (Bachelor’s study programmes, Master’s study programmes, Doctoral study programmes). The 2001 Amendment to this Act accelerated its implementation and since 1 January 2004 students of the first years could not be admitted to the “long” Master’s degree programmes; only the period of their accreditation has expired step by step. Non-structured Master’s degree programmes have gradually been replaced by Bachelor’s and follow-up Master’s study programmes. Where required by the nature of the study programme, a Master’s degree programme does not have to follow on from a Bachelor’s degree programme. Thus, the standard length of study is 4-6 years. Usually are there 5 year programmes (300 ECTS), in the case of medicine, veterinary medicine and arts, there are 6-year programmes (360 ECTS). About 10% of all students of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes study in those programmes. General medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, law and jurisprudence, some theological fields, some artistic fields, logopaedics and primary teacher training are the fields.

The same rules as for Bachelor’s degree programmes apply to admission of students. In case of art and primary teacher training, the talent examination can be part of the admission proceedings (for teachers, see the chapter Teachers and Education Staff).

Transit throughout the studies, completion of study, teaching methods, etc. for non-structured Master’s degree programmes are the same as for studies and completion of studies in Master’s degree programmes following on Bachelor’s ones.

An overview of higher education degrees in Master’s non-structured study programmes and of conditions under which they may be awarded according to the Higher Education Act. Academic titles and procedures are the same as for „follow-up“ Master’s degree programmes; included in the table there are also Master’s (non-structured) degree programmes in medicine, veterinary medicine and hygiene, which cannot be studied in a structured study programme. Graduates of “long” Master’s degree programmes as well as graduates of other Master’s degree programmes can be admitted to a doctoral programme (their graduates obtain the title Ph.D., eventually Th.D.).

Apart from this, after being awarded the title Magistr, graduates of a Master’s degree programme (similarly as graduates of structured programmes) can sit for an advanced study examination and be awarded the title, the so-called “small doctorate” (rigorózum) (Advanced Master Degree). For more information, see part Second Cycle Programme, the section on Certification.

Tertiary professional schools

Branches of Study


Tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) are included in tertiary education. They provide education at 5B ISCED level, but are regulated by the Education Act.

Tertiary professional education (vyšší odborné vzdělávání) (ISCED 5B) takes place mostly at tertiary professional schools and to a lesser extent in the two highest grades of conservatoires (for more information, see the part on Art Education).

Tertiary professional schools were established to provide professionally-oriented non-university tertiary education, nevertheless since the very beginning they have been struggling with unclear function, status and relations within the education system and subsequently with characteristics (e.g. duration of study) that place them into a specific situation within the European context. "Educational programmes of tertiary professional education do not meet the characteristics of a short cycle, so they can not be assigned to this category. Under the current legislation, completion of the programme of tertiary vocational education does not authorise the admission to study programmes of the second higher education cycle and thus, they can not be in the position of the first cycle programmes (source: Nantl, J., Černíkovský, P. a kol.: Národní kvalifikační rámec terciárního vzdělávání České republiky. An attempt to define the role and the status of different streams in tertiary professional education better within the reform of higher education has not ended successfully and the sector – despite benefits for students and graduates – waits for clearing up its potential for the next development.

Study fields

The structure of study fields at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is set by a governmental decree after negotiation with the relevant central trade union bodies, employer’s associations acting in the territory of the whole country and within the regions. A 2004 governmental decree introduced a new structure of study fields in basic and secondary education and education at tertiary professional schools and linked these to vocational and study fields according to previous legislation. Study fields provided by tertiary professional schools have to be registered in the School Register. Education is organised on the basis of study programmes which are subject to accreditation of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (based on the view of the Accreditation Commission for Tertiary Professional Education).

The length of full-time tertiary professional education is three years including work practice; for medical disciplines, it is up to three and half years.

Admission Requirements

A basic pre-condition for admission to education at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is upper secondary education with a school-leaving examination (maturitní zkouška), ISCED 3A, confirmed by a school-leaving certificate. Students are admitted on the basis of results of the admission procedure. The school head must publish the deadline for submission of an application form, the documents which are its component parts, dates when the admission procedure takes place and criteria for its evaluation, at least two months in advance. The school head may decide whether the admission procedure will include an entrance examination and sets its content and form in accordance with the teaching and study documents for secondary education completed with a school-leaving examination.

The entrance examination usually includes a written part and an interview. At some schools (pedagogical and art), talent examinations are included as well. The school head notifies applicants of their admission or rejection in writing within seven days after the examination date or of the decision issuance date if the examination does not take place. If an applicant is not admitted to a course, she/he can file an appeal within 15 days of the day when the school head’s decision is delivered to them.

Under the Education Act, the school head can accept students directly into higher years if their documents on previous education certify so, or if the applicant proves sufficient level of knowledge subsequently. Recognition of previous education in not set down in a systematic way and articulation of the Act deals mainly with formal, in limited cases with non-formal education.

The school head decides on the number of students admitted in accordance with the capacity set for the school on its registration in the School Register and in accordance with the long-term objectives of individual regions. The law states that age cannot be a barrier to admission to studies.

Information on tuition fees are included in the chapter Funding in Education.

Curriculum

Tertiary professional education in each educational area at individual tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is organised in accordance with an accredited educational programme (for information on accreditation, see the chapter Quality Assurance, section Quality Assurance in Higher Education). The educational programme specifies, in particular, the concrete objectives of education, the length, the form, and the content of education and its organisation, the profile of graduates of the educational programme concerned, the language of instruction, conditions of the course of education, and the manner in which education is completed, as well as conditions for the education of students with special educational needs, and professional conditions for teaching, conditions for work safety and health, and health protection conditions for persons applying for education.

Instruction of at least some modules/subjects in a foreign language is very rare; it is mainly due to the very poor involvement of tertiary professional schools in international mobility at the European level. This mobility is limited by a very restricted access to corresponding sources, e.g. of Erasmus programme. The 2009 analysis showed that the potential of tertiary professional schools for international cooperation is limited by their size, consequently by their capacity for involvement in this cooperation.

Teaching Methods

Tertiary professional education inconporates theoretical and practical preparation. Theoretical preparation is provided in the forms of lectures and seminars, consultations, excercises, and field trips in accordance with the accredited educational programme. Seminars and excercises take place at schools. Practical preparation is organized either in the form of practical education at schools or as work practice at workplaces (see also the chapter Educational Support and Guidance).

The number of students in a study group is between 10 and 40 at the beginning of their studies in the first year (in arts fields, the minimum number of students is 6). In accordance with the accredited educational programme, it is possible to divide study groups into sub-groups or to join study groups and sub-groups for lessons in certain subjects.

The range of teaching aids and equipment is the responsibility of the tertiary professional school (vyšší odborné školy).

The work practice at a workplace is a considerable feature which supports employability and success in the labour market of graduates of tertiary professional education. Often is it designed as continuous, lasting several months or at least several weeks. Health schools distribute the disponsible hours for gaining practical experience (set by international standards in many health fields) in a continuous block or in regular week practices.

Progression of Students

A student who has successfully met conditions specified by the accredited educational programme for a relevant level proceeds to a higher level. Despite many discussions and declarations, it can be seen that most tertiary professional schools have not started to introduce a credit system, which often does not have a practical use due to the limited number of students. Legislative limits or their understanding plays also a part in it.

Examinations may be repeated twice. In the case of a second resit, an examination is organised in front of the examining board and it is also used if there are any doubts about the correctness of the student’s assessment. This form of examination can also be employed in the case of comparative tests and in cases defined by the accredited educational programme. An examination in front of an examining board takes place on the date determined by the school head, who also nominates the examining board.

Students can transfer to another tertiary professional school during the course of their studies, change their field of education, interrupt their studies, or repeat a year, and are entitled to recognition of their previous education upon a written request.

The school head may interrupt schooling of a student for a period of not more than two years. For this period, the student ceases to be a student of the relevant tertiary professional school. After the specified time elapses, students continue to study in the same year in which they interrupted their studies. With the prior consent of the school head, the student may continue in his/her studies in an upper year if he/she demonstrates corresponding knowledge and practical skills and the manner in which these have been achieved.

Education at tertiary professional schools may take various study forms, all of which are equal (for more information, see the section on Organisational Variation).

The 2004 Amendment to the Higher Education Act made the transition from the tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) to higher education institutions (vysoké školy) easier. Higher education institutions are free to specify different admission conditions for applicants who have completed a degree programme or a part of the programme at a tertiary professional school or for those who are studying the same programme. In such cases, students need not study the entire Bachelor’s programme from the beginning.

Employability

The work practice mentioned in the part Teaching Methods above is a specific feature supporting employability of school-leavers of tertiary professional education. This kind of practice together with the practically oriented approach to education may be the reason of relatively higher satisfaction of graduates of tertiary professional education with the whole readiness and use of the attained education in the practical life, especially in comparison with the Bachelors (Source: Středisko vzdělávací politiky, 2007).

Student Assessment

Students are assessed after each relevant term. Subjects or other comprehensive parts of the syllabus on the basis of which a student takes an examination are specified by the accredited educational programme.

Assessment can take the form of continuous assessment, credits, classified credits or examinations. Continuous assessment can take place during seminars, practice, practical education, work practice, and excursions. Continuous assessment primarily takes the form of questions, written work, tests, individual assignments, and term papers. The results of interim assessment can be taken into account and influence the final examination. A credit is given when all requirements defined in the subject curriculum are met. The evidence of given credits are recorded in the student’s credit book, with the word započteno (credit granted). A classified credit also evaluates and classifies how a student has met the requirements of the credit. A classified credit and an examination can be oral, written, practical, or combined. The results of a classified credit or an examination are marked as follows: excellent, very good, good, failed. The results of a classified credit and of an examination are recorded in these terms in the student’s credit book.

Assessment and classification is carried out in each subject by the teacher, except for the case of a graduate examination which has to be taken in front of an examination board.

Some tertiary professional schools also use credit systems which express the students’ study load.

Certification

Studies end with a graduate examination (absolutorium). After successful passing the graduate examination, the graduate of a tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola) receives a graduation certificate and a graduate diploma upon completion of the tertiary professional school. They are awarded the title diploma specialist (diplomovaný specialista, DiS.) which is written behind their names.

Successful completion of the final level of studies is the pre-condition for taking a graduate examination. The graduate examination is a professional examination consisting of an exam in vocational subjects, an exam in a foreign language and a defence of a graduate thesis. The examination in vocational subjects may cover up to 3 vocational subjects. The school head announces at least one regular date for a graduate examination in the school year. A student may resit the graduate examination or repeat the graduate thesis only twice on the date determined by the examination board. In case the student excuses himself/herself in due term, he/she is entitled to an examination on an alternative date determined by the school head.

A proposed educational programme submitted for accreditation has to include specification of subjects which will be part of the graduate examination. The graduate examination is a public examination, except for the examination board’s discussions about student evaluations. Practical examinations are not public in cases when it is necessary (i.e. occupational safety or protection of patients’ privacy in medical disciplines). The exams take place in front of a board whose chairperson is appointed by a regional authority and other members are appointed by the school head. The Chair, the Vice-Chair and the supervising teacher of a study group are permanent members. A teacher of the relevant subject, a teacher who also teaches the same subject but is not a teacher of students being examined, a supervisor of the graduate thesis, and a critical opponent are other members.

The assessment scale used in the graduate examination consists of four levels: excellent, very good, good and fail. The overall assessment is on a three-point scale (pass with excellence, pass, fail). The overall assessment of the graduate examination includes marks for the examination in specialised subjects and in a foreign language, and of the defence of the thesis. The graduate paper may be elaborated and defended by several students at the same time. But they are assessed individually. The overall assessment of a student’s performance during the graduate examination, along with the assessment of the individual examinations, is announced to the student on the same day he/she took the graduate examination.

Organisational Variation

Education at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is organised on the basis of day or evening, distance, e-learning and combined forms of education (for more information, see Vocational Education, the section School-based Education). Education attained in all forms of education is equal.

Distance, evening, e-learning, or combined forms of education can be up to one year longer than the day form of study.

Tertiary professional schools can co-operate with higher education institutions (vysoké školy), see the part Bachelor.


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


Organisation of Doctoral Studies

Doctoral degree programmes are aimed at scientific research and independent creative activities in the area of research or development, or at independent theoretical and creative activities in the area of fine arts.

The standard length of study is at least three and at most four years. The average duration of doctoral studies is longer; it varies on average between five to six years. Higher education institutions set the maximal study length in their internal regulations (see the section Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates).

The credit system in doctoral programmes is not being implemented everywhere. The situation is different even within faculties of one higher education institution. At some faculties, students in doctoral programmes are usually obliged to teach a certain number of hours. Scope of the obligation is determined by the higher education institution.

Many doctoral programmes at higher education institutions are carried out in cooperation with the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic following the traditional scientific training in these institutions.

Doctoral degree programmes can not be offered by non-university higher education institutions.

The degree programmes are subject to accreditation of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, based on the views of the Accreditation Commission (for more information on accreditation, see the chapter Quality Assurance in Higher Education). Studies in the doctoral degree programme proceed according to an individual study plan under the guidance of a supervisor (see bellow).

Admission Requirements

For admission to a doctoral degree programme, an applicant must have completed the Master’s degree programme and in the field of art, he/she must be awarded also an academic title.

An institution can set a maximum number of students to be admitted. The conditions must be published at least four months in advance.

In general, admission to studies at higher education institutions is limited primarily by the capacity of each institution. This number of students which will be funded in the academic year is limited at the central level by the amount of money allocated to the school through formula funding (for more details, see the chapter Funding in Education, the section Higher Education). A particular higher education institution decides on the number of students in individual fields and forms of study.

Information on tuition fees is given in the chapter Higher Education Funding.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

Students in doctoral degree programmes have a status of students. Students’ benefits, however, can be taken advantage of only up to 26 years, the tax abatement up to 28 years of age. A department (thus a higher education institution) may employ the student. Students are often involved in research projects if these are carried out in the particular field at a higher education institution.

Students of doctoral studies have the same rights for scholarships as students of Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. They also receive a special doctoral scholarship (see the chapter Higher Education Funding). This scholarship is paid only to students in a full-time study of the standard length (i.e. the period for which programmes are accredited - 3 or 4 years). As the actual length of study is longer, most students of doctoral studies proceed after a standard period of study to the combined form of study. If students exceed the standard study length, they do not pay any fees. Therefore, most higher education institutions offer full-time and e-learning or combined form of study. Student’s status does not change with this, if the student does not start to work in parallel with the study. Higher education institutions set the maximum length of study, after which the student is excluded from the study (e.g. at Charles University, it is the standard length of study plus 5 years).

Supervision Arrangements

tudies within doctoral study programmes proceed according to individual curricula under the guidance of a supervisor. Conditions that students have to fulfil during their study and on its regular completion are set in the individual study plan; they are further determined by the content and the extent of the state doctoral examination and requirements for prescribed knowledge.

Studies within doctoral study programmes are monitored and evaluated by a doctoral studies board appointed in compliance with internal regulations of a higher education institution or one of its constituent parts that offers the accredited study programme in question. Higher education institutions or their constituent parts may agree on creating a common board for study programmes in the same area of studies. Members of the board choose the chair by voting from among its members.

Assessment

General principles in performing tests are the same as for the Bachelor’s and Master’s study (see the chapter First Cycle Programmes, section Assessment). ECTS credits are usually not used in doctoral programmes. Requirements that a student of the doctoral study must fulfil are determined by a higher education institution in the form of an individual study plan. For a given course, the higher education institution sets the number of compulsory and compulsorily optional courses which the students must attend. Fulfilment of an individual study plan is subject to regular, usually annual, assessment approved by the doctoral studies board.

Upon submission of the study programme plan for accreditation, the higher education institution must state what the share of theoretical knowledge in individual study plan of the doctoral programme will be. Students are expected to focus on scientific research and independent creative activity. It must be clear from the theme of the doctoral thesis that their solution will require student’s independent creative activity in research and development, or independent creative activity in art. Students are expected to publish (articles in scholarly papers), actively participate in conferences, etc. While considering an application for accreditation, it is taken into account whether the topic of a dissertation thesis corresponds to the specialisation of research. Any other duties that the student has to perform in the course of study must not jeopardise his/her study and must be in close relation to it.

Certification

Study of a doctoral programme finishes with a state doctoral examination and the defence of a thesis. At some faculties, it is possible to pass a state doctoral examination, to write and to defend a doctoral thesis in English language, and in some study programmes, this is even required.

Graduates of doctoral programmes are awarded the academic title “doctor” or “Doctor of Theology”.


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