The Czech Statistical Office released a publication on students and graduates of Czech universities between 2001 and 2022.
The data available in this publication show that the number of international students in our public and private universities has increased every year since 2001. Over the last ten years, this has been a steady increase of 3% per year. Thus, in 2022, Czech universities will have the highest number of students with non-Czech citizenship to date - almost 55,000 from 166 countries, representing a total of 18% of all enrolled university students. A decade ago, this percentage was considerably lower. The most popular destinations for international students in 2022 were Prague, followed by Brno, Olomouc, and Ostrava. The most attractive fields for them were those in business, administration, law, health and social care, and information and communication technologies. Regarding national composition, Slovak students dominated the statistics, followed by Russians and Ukrainians. The latter have regularly been one of the largest groups in recent years. Ukrainian students increased by almost half last year compared to the 2021 figure, while Russian students decreased year-on-year due to the current situation between the two countries. Why is the growth in the number of international students a positive trend for Czechia?
Mutual benefits for international students and Czechia
Not only universities but also the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is trying to promote the internationalization of Czech education. Internationalization is one of the essential indicators of school quality, which is measured by prestigious international rankings such as the QS University Ranking. There is a good reason for this - not only does it contribute to cultural diversity in schools, but it also makes Czech graduates of these schools more competitive at home and abroad. They have a better understanding of different cultures and global issues. International alumni, who in up to half of the cases stay in Czechia after completing their studies, subsequently enter the labor market here and thus stimulate the Czech economy with their expertise. Those who return to their home country, enriched by a different culture and good practices, then spread the good name of Czech schools and Czechia itself abroad. That is why taking care of international alumni of domestic universities is one of our priorities. Through our Czechia Alumni initiative, we have been supporting them on a long-term basis and organizing networking meetups for them together with embassies, such as in Madrid in April this year.
Internationalization is also an important topic outside the education sector. As the European population, including the Czech one, is aging, the economy and the social system will depend on it in the future. According to the Czech Statistical Office, international migration contributes to population growth in Czechia. Another factor is that over the last few years, some of the smallest year groups of Czech children have entered higher education. However, there is no reason to fear that this will prevent future stronger year groups of children from 2007/08 from entering school due to the higher number of international students. Students are admitted to public university programs according to the results of the admissions process and not according to nationality. Studying at these schools is free of charge only if they study in the Czech language, which further helps to motivate foreign students to integrate into Czech culture.
Promoting the opportunities of the Czech school system, and thus contributing to a newly educated workforce that will develop links to Czechia and Czech culture during their studies, should be among our top priorities. We have recently presented Czech universities, under the banner of Study in Czechia, for instance at the Asia Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) conference and university fair, and we are shortly going to promote opportunities for cooperation or student exchanges with Czech universities at NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in Washington D.C. This largest international education and networking event in the world in the field of internationalization of higher education will allow universities to establish further international contacts. We regularly participate in both of these major events, where our Study in Czechia brand enables Czech universities to establish partnerships with universities abroad.