International cooperation within Europe and beyond has been gaining ground in Czechia and particularly in Czech schools since 1989, when fundamental socio-political changes took place. In 2004, Czechia joined the European Union and is also a member of UNESCO, the Council of Europe, OECD and the Visegrad Group. In the field of education the country is a member of European networks such as ReferNet, NARIC Network, Eurodesk, Eurydice, Euroguidance, European ECVET Network or European Schoolnet.
In 1995, Czechia became involved in the European Communities' educational programmes. In 2014, the Erasmus+ programme was launched by legislation passed in the European Parliament and of the Council. Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport, which has replaced a number of programmes which took place under the umbrella of the Lifelong Learning Programme (e.g. Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig). In 2021, a new Erasmus + programming period was launched based on the Regulation 2021/817, scheduled for 2027.
At the level of pre-primary to tertiary professional education, international cooperation takes place within the following activities:
Teachers can take advantage of the Erasmus+ programme and participate in short-term internships and seminars offered by partner countries on the basis of bilateral cooperation. Within the framework of continuous professional development of teachers, courses aimed at functioning of the European Union and/or on education systems in its Member States are offered.
Within higher education, international cooperation mainly takes place within:
direct cooperation between universities or faculties;
international programmes (the European educational programme Erasmus+, the EEA Grants, the programme Aktion Czech Republic – Austria, the Central European Exchange Programme CEEPUS, Barrande Fellowship Programme, and others);
Based on international agreements, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports provides scholarships to foreigners. Higher education institutions (vysoké školy) offer English-taught study programmes (unlike programmes that are taught in Czech, these are usually provided for a fee) and introduce joint or double degree programmes.
Academic staff mobility is carried on the basis of agreements between universities, faculties or governments, as well as within international programmes.
The Erasmus+ programme is also designed to directly promote adult education and lifelong learning, where adult education is delivered in courses providing a corresponding level of education or in higher education study programmes. It is also possible to participate in other programmes and types of cooperation (see the information for the relevant levels of education).
Czech language courses are organised for Czech compatriots living abroad and Czech teachers are sent to Czech communities abroad. For more information see the Programme to support the Czech cultural heritage abroad. Every year, several public higher education institutions organise the Summer School of Slavonic Studies.
To inform the general public about current events in Europe and the European Union there are 13 regional Eurocentres, the Eurofon free telephone line and the Euroskop website which operate within the integrated information system. The EUROPE DIRECT European information network with 13 regional centres also operates in the Czechia.
Legislation and national policy documents
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for international cooperation in the field of education. This responsibility is based on the resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic, the foreign policy principles of the government, international agreements and contacts made with partner ministries and other entities abroad.
To facilitate international cooperation in the area of education, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports established the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research (Dům zahraniční spolupráce). The Centre been authorised by the Ministry to administer international programmes and other activities that arise from international relations in the field of education.
The principles for providing education to foreign nationals and recognising education attained abroad at levels ranging from pre-primary to tertiary professional education are set out in the Education Act, and for the higher education level in the Higher Education Act. EU citizens are entitled access to education and school services at all levels up to the tertiary professional education level under the same conditions as citizens of Czechia. All foreigners are entitled to free basic education and, if they are a legal resident in Czechia, they are also entitled to the remaining education levels. Foreign students are admitted to higher education institutions under the same conditions as Czech students. However, higher education institutions may require fees for reviewing the conditions for admission to study.
The National Programme for the Development of Education in the Czech Republic. White Paper was a significant strategic document. It was drafted on the basis of analyses and evaluations of the Czech education system in 1995–2000 and published in 2001 and also followed the publication Czech Education and Europe: Pre-accession Strategy of Human Resource Development (1999). Special attention was paid to the topic of European and international cooperation in education.
After approval by the government in July 2014, the Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic until 2020 became an overarching document for the area of education. This was followed by a new strategy – Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic until 2030+. To fulfil the function of implementation plans, generally there are long-term plans (for Strategy 2030+ for the period up to 2023 also implementation cards).
For lower educational levels (pre-primary to tertiary professional education), this is the Long-term Plan for Education and the Development of the Education System of the Czech Republic (2019–2023). It stresses the importance of foreign language teaching in connection with mobility, it does not include a separate chapter on international cooperation.
A new strategic material in the field of higher education is Strategic Plan of the Ministry for Higher Education for the Period from 2021. Due to the complexity and cross-sectionality of the topic of internationalisation in higher education, an annex was issued – the Strategy of Internationalisation of Higher Education for the Period from 2021. It contains six basic goals. For more information on the priority objective “Internationalisation” and the Strategic plans for higher education institutions see the website of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
See also Current strategies in the area in education in Chapter 2.
In 2012, the Strategy for Granting Government Scholarships for Students from Developing Countries in 2013–2018 was approved. As a follow-up to the strategy, a government resolution was adopted providing ground for securing studies for both new government scholarship holders and scholarship holders who were admitted in previous years (pursuant to previous government resolutions). The provision of scholarships is governed by the programme Scholarships of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to Support Foreign Students' Study at Public Universities in the Czech Republic announced by an Order of the Minister No. 4/2014. A new Strategy of Programme for Granting Government Scholarships for Students from Developing Countries in 2019–2024 was approved in 2019, its methodology in now being prepared. Based on the evaluation of previous strategies for providing government scholarships, a number of changes were made in the 2019-2024 strategy, including the approach to the system of providing foreign scholarships, details are described in the material of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Government resolutions are issued on the strategies, on the basis of which the study of new government scholarship holders as well as scholarship holders admitted in previous years is ensured.
In the area of school education, there is an on-going curricular reform that has a legislative backing in the 2004 Education Act. Originally it was based on the strategic document National Programme for the Development of Education in the Czech Republic – the White Paper (2001) and it is significantly reflected in the Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic.
All educational programmes – from pre-primary to upper secondary education – include an international dimension. Basic and general secondary education include the cross-curricular themes Education towards Thinking in the European and Global Contexts and Multicultural Education. In addition, these issues can also be found in individual areas of education. In upper secondary vocational education, the topic is part of the social science curriculum.
In tertiary professional education and higher education, European and international topics are included in the accredited education/study programmes that are within the competence of each school.