This national report presents the results of a survey conducted at the end of 2019, which aimed to evaluate the Czech Republic’s promotional activities as study destinations, monitor the quality of study programs and the availability of support services by universities, and improve the study conditions for foreign students in the Czech Republic.
The survey was carried out by the House of Foreign Cooperation (DZS) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (MŠMT), Czech universities and the national initiative Study in Prague. This forms a unique material that, for the first time, comprehensively maps the situation of foreign students at Czech universities.
Through universities, foreign students currently studying in the full-time form of study at all levels, ie bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral, in both Czech and English, were addressed in the form of an online questionnaire.
In terms of content, the survey focused on four basic areas:
- The first area focused on the way in which an international student learns about the possibilities of studying in the Czech Republic and how he/she decides on studying at a Czech university.
- The second area aims to support international students who have already decided to study in the Czech Republic and now have to master the procedures related to entering a Czech university, such as the admission procedure, recognition of previous education or the visa process.
- The third area monitors the perception of the quality of the study itself, ie whether it meets the expectations with which the foreign student came to the Czech university. An important question is also whether the study takes into account the specific needs of foreign students, whether it is a question of the language of instruction, study materials, or cultural differences.
- In the fourth area, the survey focuses on the living and social needs of international students and the conditions that universities create for these students. They must take into account that the needs of foreign students differ in part from domestic students.
Foreign students at Czech universities
The number of international university students in the Czech Republic has been steadily growing for the past years. As of December 2019, 46,534 international students were studying at Czech universities in the Czech Republic. Of the total number of Czech university students, they accounted for 16.1 per cent.
Students from the Slovak Republic have long had the largest representation. Another significant group of international students are students from the countries of the former Soviet Union, mainly from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Other countries are India, Germany, China, Italy, Great Britain, Vietnam, the United States, Israel, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Serbia and Norway.
Regarding the field of study that international students most often study at Czech universities, the most popular are economic, medical and technical (including ICT) fields.
Promotion of the Czech Republic and Czech higher education abroad
International students choose the Czech Republic mainly because of the specific offer of study programs (49%) or specific universities (46%). However, the geographical location of the country (32%) also plays an important role, and for a quarter of the students also the cost of living and studying are important factors when choosing a univeristy. The perception of the Czech Republic as a safe destination is also relatively strong (20%), which is especially true for non-European students.
The financial affordability of studies strongly speaks in favour of studying at Czech universities. Although English study programs are paid, they are still more financially affordable than programs in many Western European countries. If a student chooses a Czech study program, the same conditions apply to him as to Czech citizens – therefore no tuition fees apply.
Reason for choosing the Czech Republic:
“Better conditions for so-called student life.”
“I longed to live in Prague since my first visit to the city.”
“Quality of Czech (or even European) education in general, recognition of education abroad.”
“Better availability of companies with possible applications.”
Support for foreign students before arrival
As for the admission process and admission requirements, the vast majority of students (93%) consider them clear and comprehensible. The complexity of the entrance exam is also assessed as adequate (92%). The fees associated with the admission process are perceived somewhat worse (a fifth of respondents consider them high). The biggest burden for applicants is the administrative and time-consuming admission procedure.
Half of the respondents use a long-term visa to study in the Czech Republic. From countries outside the European Union, 95% of foreign students in Czech study programs and 89% of foreign students in English study programs use a long-term study visa. The majority (83%) consider the visa process to be time-consuming and administratively demanding, more than half consider consular services to be difficult to access and visa and administrative process requirements unclear.
Two-thirds of students in English study programs consider the process of recognition of previous education to be demanding. However, the requirements for recognition are clear to the vast majority of them (76%).
In evaluating the quality of communication with institutions, students are most satisfied with communication with their university (85%).
Quality of study programs at Czech universities
When assessing their study program, respondents rated the equipment of school facilities (89%) and the quality of study materials (84%) the best. 70% of students perceive the study as sufficiently connected with practice.
The most frequently used teaching method are lectures (85%), which are largely supplemented by self-study (70%), but also by group work (51%) and student presentations (43%). Three-quarters of international students rate the share of quality teachers at the university studied as 70% or higher.
Two-thirds of students would not change their choice of studying in the Czech Republic and at a specific school.
When asked whether they would recommend studying in the Czech Republic to their friends or family, 9 out of 10 students answered in the affirmative.
Services and living conditions
In the section devoted to the evaluation of services at universities, international students expressed satisfaction, mostly with the approach of administrative staff (86%) and student organizations (86%), followed by information technology and systems, which 85% of students rate as user-friendly.
As for other aspects of life in the Czech Republic, international students are very satisfied with the transport (94%), but also with the quality of education compared to tuition fees (88%). 88% of respondents are also satisfied with the living expenses.
Half of the students confirmed their interest in staying in the Czech Republic for the future – a quarter would like to work in the Czech Republic, a quarter to continue their studies.
“I would like to add that going to study in the Czech Republic is one of the best decisions of my life. Although it was sometimes difficult in the beginning, it’s worth it! Thank you for this great opportunity.”