Higher education and tertiary professional education are governed by different laws and decrees. Measures for students at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) are analogous to the special education needs provision and the measures for foreigners and members of national minorities at lower educational levels. This part will only deal with the support measures for students at higher education institutions (vysoké školy).
Definitions of the target group(s)
The Higher Education Act stipulates that the public higher education institutions (vysoké školy) must assure guidance and counselling for students and take measures for balancing opportunities for study at a higher education institution. The Government Regulation on the Accreditation Standards in Higher Education states that (each) higher education institution "provides accessible services, scholarships, and other support measures to equalise opportunities for students with specific needs to study at the higher education institution". However, the legislation does not provide a more precise definition of these measures and needs, and the definition of specific groups and the method and degree of their support may therefore differ at individual higher education institution.
In addition, however, the law and other regulations and programmes introduce specific measures for the following groups:
- students with specific needs (according to the Rules for Allocating Contributions and Subsidies): students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, motor impairments, specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and other difficulties that prevent them from fulfilling their study obligations in a standard way, e.g. another psychological disorder or chronic somatic problems
- students in a difficult social situation
- gifted students
Specific support measures
According to the Higher Education Act, the higher education institutions (vysoké školy) must assure guidance and counselling for students and take measures for balancing opportunities for study at a higher education institution. The Government Regulation on the Accreditation Standards in Higher Education states as one of the criteria that the higher education institution (even private) provides accessible services, scholarships, and other support measures to equalise opportunities for students with specific needs to study at the higher education institution. The higher education institution in particular:
- bases from the generally binding legal regulations in the area of equalising the study conditions of students with specific needs,
- ensures informed and human dignity respecting approach of all its employees to students and applicants with specific needs,
- ensures that the services provided and adjustments implemented with the aim of achieving accessibility of academic life for students with specific needs do not lead to a reduction in study requirements.
The system of measures is prepared by individual higher education institutions. However, specific support is also defined for some groups of students based on the law and other regulations and programmes:
Support for students with specific measures
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports provides public higher education institutions with a contribution to support the increased costs of studying for (selected groups of) students with specific needs within the Educational Policy Fund. The conditions are set annually in the Rules for Allocating Contributions and Subsidies. Depending on the type of disability, the support focuses on time compensation, individual teaching, organisational measures, personal assistance, spatial orientation, transcription service, overhead measures, study assistance, interpretation service, recording service and processing of study literature.
Teaching methods and special materials for the education of the disabled are usually provided by specialised academic guidance service centres. The Disability Help Centre, which was established at the Department of Special Education of the Faculty of Education of Palacký University in Olomouc, the Teiresias Centre of Masaryk University in Brno or the School without Barriers programme of the Metropolitan University Prague, can serve as examples. They provide complex guidance, technical, and therapeutic services to students and staff with communication difficulties, visual or hearing impairments, mobility disorders, with specific learning disorders and behavioural disorders and with multiple disabilities. The services include personal assistance (e.g., sign language interpretation, ensuring the mobility of students with physical or visual impairments), adaptation of study materials (conversion into Braille tactile lettering, transcribing audio recordings), consulting (with teachers, family, among the disabled and the non-disabled, etc.), providing financial support, publication and educational activities and more. However, the availability of such services is not a rule. The accessibility of the higher education institutions buildings to disabled students is realised, without exception, through the new construction or renovation. The accessibility to historic buildings is solved individually.
Support for students in a difficult social situation
The law guarantees students up to a certain income limit support in the form of a so-called social scholarship (funded from the central level based on the Rules for Allocating Contributions and Subsidies). Higher education institutions can also provide other scholarships to students in difficult social situations. The rector (rektor) can also, taking into account the academic results or the student's social situation, reduce or waive the assessed study fee (for exceeding the study period by more than one year), or delay its due date.
Support for students-parents
The law states that higher education institutions must make appropriate arrangements for the study of parents (and persons who have taken care of the child in place of parental care). In addition, it explicitly guarantees the right to interrupt studies always in connection with pregnancy, childbirth or parenthood (for the period for which their maternity or parental leave would otherwise last, i.e., up to 3 years of the child's age). The period of study interruption is not included in the maximum study period (related to the study fees).
Generally, foreigners have the same education conditions as citizens of the Czechia. In case of public higher education institutions, the conditions for study of foreigners are included in the statutes of individual institutions. The law further stipulates that the conditions for admission of foreigners to study must make it possible to meet the commitments following from international agreements binding for Czechia. As part of the recognition of foreign higher education, persons who have been granted international protection or who are viewed as refugees, displaced persons or a person in a situation similar to that of refugees can replace the relevant document with a solemn declaration. The situation of foreigners in the Czech education system is described in more details in the section on early childhood and school education.
There are linguistic products for foreigners who are applicants for study in the Czech language at a higher education institution – all-year residential course prepares students for study in humanities, economic and technical programmes at Czech higher education institutions. In addition, foreigners are offered to study in foreign languages, especially in English. The intention is to extend this offer (including the creation of learning support in foreign languages, the equipment of higher education institutions, staff language skills, accommodation, leisure time spending etc., and foreign experts' engagement) and thus contributing to create a true international environment at Czech higher education institutions.
In response to the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine, higher education institutions, the Ministry of Education and other institutions provide financial and non-financial support to students coming from Ukraine. Support is provided, among other sources, from the Education Policy Fund, from which Belarusian students were also supported in 2021.
The development of talented students is not institutionalised and mostly takes the form of various competitions for the best undergraduate or graduate theses. The winners of these competitions receive financial rewards. Such competitions are not only held by higher education institutions or the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, but also by non-educational establishments, such as the Czech Academy of Science, scientific societies of the Czech Academy of Science, the Learned Society of the Czech Republic, the Czech Literary Fund and the Czech Music Fund, and various other foundations.