On Teachers' Day, Czech university academics plan nationwide protests over low salaries

The demonstration will feature mainly lecturers of humanities and the social sciences, who on average earn less than secondary school teachers.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 28.03.2023 11:21:00 (updated on 28.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Today, on Teachers' Day in Czechia, university lecturers from the humanities and social science fields will protest against low salaries.

Dissatisfaction across the country

Named Hour of Truth (Hodina pravdy), the nationwide demonstration calls on the government to increase its budget for universities, which would lead to high salaries for teachers. It was collectively organized by dissatisfied university lecturers, who also signed an online petition.

The protest will take place in nine Czech cities, including Prague, Olomouc, and České Budějovice. Thirteen faculties, mainly philosophy departments, are taking part.

In Prague, humanities and social science teachers will march this afternoon from Jan Palach Square near Charles Bridge to Hradčanské náměstí. Teaching at some universities in the capital and other cities will therefore be affected.

The participating university lecturers want state funding of universities to be increased to the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, which amounts to about CZK 10 billion more than now. 

"During this [protest], the public and university students will be openly informed about the complete neglect of university education and shamefully undervalued wages."

A statement from the academics' petition

Poor pay for professors of humanities and arts

Humanities lecturers are among the worst-paid of all university teachers – for example, the average gross monthly wage for a philosophy or theology teacher is CZK 44,500. This is only slightly higher than the national average, and lower than the average salary of a Czech primary or secondary school teacher. 

The situation is even worse at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, in which a professor’s average gross salary is CZK 37,600. This is in stark contrast with professors at computer science faculties nationwide, who receive an average of almost CZK 70,000 gross monthly. 

Government acknowledges the issue

Minister of Education Vladimír Balaš has himself described the financing of Czech universities as neglected in the long term. Today, Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Balaš will speak about the possibility of increasing government funding for universities.

The Education Ministry appears to be aware of the problem. According to a document published by a working group within the ministry, the average gross monthly salary for professors should be CZK 100,000 and assistant professors should receive CZK 55,000, Lidovky.cz reports.

However, the ministry also believes that part of the fault lies with university rectors who distribute funds inefficiently to different faculties. Fiala last week expressed his wish for university rectors to have a more active role in discussing wage demands with lecturers.

If governmental talks go well, state financing of universities could be increased by almost CZK 1 billion. However, with funding of Czech universities considerably lower than the OECD average, the government may well need to consider investing more in Czech higher education.

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