The Czech Republic has the third-lowest share of university graduates in the EU

According to new data from the OECD, only Italy and Romania have fewer university graduates per capita than the Czech Republic. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 16.09.2023 16:02:00 (updated on 17.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic finds itself with one of the lowest shares of university graduates in the European Union, according to recent data published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a forum of 38 countries designed to develop policy standards to promote sustainable economic growth.

Only 26.67 percent of Czech residents between the ages of 25 to 64 have a university education, according to data sourced from the OECD's 2023 Education at a Glance report. This figure ranks below the EU average of 37.67 percent, with only Italy and Romania having fewer university-educated citizens per capita.

Across the 38 countries worldwide in the OECD, Canada boasts the highest percentage of university-educated individuals, at 63 percent. Japan, Ireland, and Korea closely follow.

Among EU nations, Ireland leads with 54 percent of its population holding a university degree. The Czech Republic's neighboring countries each boast a higher rate of university graduates than the country, with Austria (36 percent) followed by Poland (34 percent), Germany (33 percent), and Slovakia (29 percent).

While the number of university applicants in the Czech Republic has been declining over the past decade, recent trends indicate that more individuals from stronger demographics are seeking higher education.

Several prominent universities, including Charles University and the Czech Technical University, have reported increased application numbers this year. An expected demographic surge in 2027/2028 is likely to further boost enrollment.

In response to the growing interest in university education, the Czech Rectors' Conference and the Council of Universities are calling for increased state funding for higher education. They claim that the current budget is insufficient and are requesting additional funds of approximately CZK 11 billion.

The Ministry of Finance's proposal for next year's education budget, which reduces funding by CZK 11.6 billion, does not align with coalition agreements. Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek has stated that universities should maintain their current funding levels.

The low rate of university education in the Czech Republic raises concerns about the country's competitiveness and the quality of its education. The European Union average expenditure on tertiary education is 1.27 percent of GDP, while the Czech Republic allocates just 0.86 percent.

Universities argue that without additional funding, they will struggle to provide a high-quality education experience and meet the demands of a growing number of students. As education remains a critical driver of economic growth and competitiveness, finding ways to increase enrollment and adequately fund higher education institutions is a priority for the Czech Republic to ensure a brighter future for its citizens.

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