Citing a shortage of engineers and other technical professionals, the president of the Czech Republic is calling for the country to break with its tradition of free university education by imposing fees on humanities students while maintaining tuition-free enrollment for technical studies.
Speaking 5 March in the western Plzen region, Milos Zeman said a shortage of graduates from technical universities and schools is hurting the country’s economy, according to a Czech News Agency (CTK) report that cites the Pravo daily. He said the country has “an excessive number of defense lawyers and economists” but needs more people with technical skills.
Zeman, a former prime minister who was elected in 2013 to the largely ceremonial presidency, said the Czech Republic “cannot wait for the market to offset the imbalance with a long time delay.”
“I don’t know if you noticed that lawyers and economists’ monthly pay declined by 5,000 crowns [$200] last year, while the pay of mechanical engineers rose by 4,000,” Zeman added.
Students can attend Czech public universities for free, though some fees apply for courses in foreign languages and for extended studies, according to the Centre for International Cooperation in Education. Zeman said that under his proposal students who still wanted to study humanities could apply for scholarships.
This article was originally published by Transitions Online.