Articles

University of New York In Prague Has A Big Mouth

In Education & Science, Prague on June 23, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

All the respect that I used to have for University of New York in Prague [UNYP] is gone. I saw their ad in a newspaper. It is the same blue ad that you probably can see on the homepage [link above and screenshot below] and that includes the slogan:

Educating tomorrow’s leaders…

Considering the Czech tertiary education sector, I must say: What a load of crap.

UNYP started to offer its services in the Czech Republic ten years ago, i.e. in 1998, when most Czech public schools experienced what we might call an extreme overhang of demand [not quite sure about this term] and when getting into college or university was extremely tough.

It was also the time when it was very “popular” [please insert a truckload of sarcasm here] to have an MBA degree if you wanted to mean something in Czech top business. And so managers of leading Czech companies started to enroll and I am pretty sure that many of them had their tuition paid for by their employers because it was considered an investment into the company’s future.

In other words, you can not compare the quality of your alumni in a situation where the criteria for enrollment include the payment of tuition [i.e. You pay tuition and you are here] with those of public schools who had to pass extremely hard entrance exams that are taken by 5,000 people but only 200 can enroll as freshmen. UNYP is sending a signal that says: All you have to do is pay tuition and you are the future leader already.

So UNYP is not really educating tomorrow’s leaders. Well, maybe some of them who are eighteen now and who might become leaders when they graduate. Or it started now…

But for the last decade the school has rather been educating businessmen and wannabe-businessmen who wanted to climb their fake ladder of business circles’ respect by adding the three letters, MBA, behind their names. 

The UNYP management must know that academic titles have a great tradition in this country, when it comes to formal ways to address people in face-to-face communication. And so, whereas English speaking countries have the saying Money talks, Czechs have a similar one that would go Academic title talks.  

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3 Responses to “University of New York In Prague Has A Big Mouth”

  1. How true, how true. Several months ago I gave a talk in Bratislava and was introduced as “Magistrat,” since I have a master’s degree, and it was a bit disconcerting. I should have my Ph.D. in a year or two, at which point some people will start calling me “Doctor,” since that’s not uncommon in America, but I have never, ever heard an American call someone “Master” in reference to their M.A., M.S., M.B.A., or whatever. It’s not that a master’s degree isn’t valued by our society or employers, but it’s not that big a deal that it becomes a key part of our identity. It would be kind of funny, though, if I start referring to my friends with engineering degrees as “Inženýr” or something.

    And being in academia, I have to pine somewhat wistfully for the kind of respect widely accorded academic degrees among Czechs, Slovaks and others, but it would go against the laid-back, informal culture. We’re big on “tykat” rather than “vykat.” So much so that when I teach classes, I encourage my students to call me by my first name rather than using a title and my last name (but maybe I should encourage them — at least at the moment) to call me Master.

  2. Yeah, the whole system of honorifics is kind of strange around here.

    Your students should call you “Mister Master” 🙂 if you want the most accurate translation of the Czech original. But be careful, this is inches away from them having to bow their heads.

    Not to mention the tradition at Czech high schools where teachers are to be addressed as “Mister Professor” or “Madam Professor”. Which of course has nothing to do with their degrees, “professor” is the name of the profession of a high school educator.

  3. “UNYP is sending a signal that says: All you have to do is pay tuition and you are the future leader already.”
    —that, to a large extent, pretty accurately sums up the domestic US unversity system.

    Look at all the American presidents – like Clinton – from poor backgrounds who had more than one college degree. Their bachelors was typically from a small, cheap college or a State University. Only their further degree was from an Ivy League university, because they were clever and could demonstrate (on the basis of their first degrees) that they deserved to be granted a scholarship there.

    An undergraduate degree from Princeton, Yale, etc. doesn’t mean squit.

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