Idealism and Capitalism: Two Sides of the Beginnings of Private Higher Education in the Czech Republic

Seminars and Colloquia

The lecture will focus on the origins and early years of private colleges in the Czech Republic. Polišenská’s earlier research on this topic will be supplemented by the findings in the framework of her Fellowship investigating the impact of underground universities on the post-communist transformation of tertiary education in Czechia. The private higher education in Czechia, preconditioned by the collapse of Communism, was part of the post-communist transformation and was impacted by the dynamic international changes in higher education in the late 1990s and by the accession of the Czech Republic to the EU in 2004.

The first private higher education institutions were founded in early 1990s with idealism, enthusiasm, inexperience, they were also businesses and actors of the emerging free market economy. It was not until 1998 that a new Higher Education Act legalized them. Up to that point, the colleges had perceived themselves and had acted as a college but legally were just providers of re-qualification courses.

The lecture will address these selected issues:

1. What were the main processes and decisions of the post-communist transformation of higher education in the Czech Republic?

2. What were the preconditions (political, social, economic, international) and motivations of the emergence of private higher education institutions in the Czech Republic?

3. Why and how were private colleges established in the Czech Republic? What were the driving forces behind the founders? How was the perception of the private colleges and the response on their existence?

4. How did the private colleges integrate into the Czech higher education environment?

Milada Polišenská is a Professor of history and international relations at the School of International Relations and Diplomacy, Anglo-American University in Prague.

IWM Permanent Fellow Ludger Hagedorn will provide the introduction and commentary. 


Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.