Public colleges and universities in the Czech Republic are free. With some minor exceptions, students pay no tuition, provided they manage to keep the length of their studies within the stipulated limits. If they don’t, they pay “fees” or “fines”. The Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University in Brno decided to drastically increase these fees – and students protest.
Until now the fee has been CZK 14,400. According to the new system it should be CZK 24,000 as of the next academic year. The faculty’s vice-dean claims that students who have been studying way too long cost the school a lot of money. The protesters, on the other hand, admit that a certain fee is acceptable but the way the faculty management communicated this change to students is not. They started a petition. So far approximately 500 students have signed it.
Students on all three levels (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral) are allowed a certain number of semesters. If they fail to collect the necessary number of credit points or to pass all exams, they may pay for extra semesters. However, many of them do it intentionally for various reasons (work, family, internships…): and these students would have deserved to know about the plan at least one year in advance, so as to allow them to reschedule their studies. According to the protesters, this did not happen.
The obligation to pay also applies to many students who already have a degree from another school or who dropped out and started all over at a different school. The fact is that the number of years spent at a college or university is added up.
The protesters do not expect to succeed with their petition, with one tiny exception. Some of their lawyers say that there is a procedural error in the process from the very beginning, so it may be declared invalid altogether. No decision or resolution has been reached so far…