Sanctions against Russia and Belarus yes, discrimination no. Czech universities will not generally prohibit applicants from these countries from starting their studies. This is based on the responses that List Reports received from university representatives.
“Students of Russian nationality who already live in the Czech Republic and apply to us can become standard students of the University of Hradec Králové after passing the entrance exams. The university also accepts students of Belarusian nationality who, for political reasons, are fleeing the Belarusian regime to the Czech Republic, ”says Jakub Novák, a spokesman for the school.
On the other hand, universities are aware of the potential security risks associated with admitting students from Russia and Belarus. And they are ready to follow the methodology of the government and the Ministry of Education.
“We think it would be a mistake to apply the principle of collective guilt in this case. The more young Russian citizens have information about the real state of affairs, the better for the future of democracy. However, we understand that the issue of admitting students from Russia and Belarus needs to be considered from many different perspectives. We will therefore respect the rules set by the government, “explains Šárka Stará, spokeswoman for the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.
However, the Ministry of Education does not yet have a specific guide on how to proceed. “As far as applicants and university students from Russia and Belarus are concerned, further negotiations and communication are needed here, which will lead to finding the optimal solution,” said ministry spokeswoman Aneta Lednová.
Obtaining visas is key
Universities do not want to disqualify any of the applicants. However, obtaining visas is crucial for students from foreign countries. Without this, they cannot enroll in the study after successfully passing the entrance exams.
“If the applicants come to the Czech Republic, ie they have a visa, we will approach them as non-discriminatory as before the war,” said Ondřej Mocek, Vice-Rector for Education and Quality at Mendel University in Brno.
Some of the Russian and Belarusian applicants clearly distance themselves from the country’s regimes. Therefore, according to school representatives, it would not be right to apply the same principles of sanctions to them as to supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At the same time, however, according to university representatives, it should be defined which fields will be banned from the Russians and Belarusians in the Czech Republic in the future. They cited security or IT as an example.
“Any applications for Russian and Belarusian students will, of course, be assessed with respect to the sanctions regime against Russia and Belarus, which also includes the areas that are closed to them,” confirms Renáta Tomášková, Vice-Rector for International Relations at the University of Ostrava.
Universities are bound by obligations under international treaties
The setting of international sanctions, which concern Russia and Belarus, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance within the Czech Republic. Some of these sanctions also apply to education and science and research. For higher education institutions, sanctions impose obligations that they must comply with. The Higher Education Act states that “the conditions for the admission of foreigners to study in the study program must enable the fulfillment of obligations arising from international agreements by which the Czech Republic is bound.”
Representatives of universities, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports are involved in writing a manual that will set safety rules with regard to students from Russia and Belarus.
Applicants from post-Soviet countries
In an interview with iDnes.cz, the Minister of Education Petr Gazdík (STAN) identified Belarusian and Russian students as a possible security risk. “We have to pay attention to the security of our country, and we need to educate Vladimir Putin IT experts and send him back future hackers is a security risk for us,” the minister said.
According to the minister, the central crisis staff and secret services are looking for solutions to set up the issuance of visas to students from Russia and Belarus who need them to enroll. The Minister did not describe a specific procedure for resolving this situation. However, according to him, granting asylum will be crucial. “I’m afraid in many cases it may not be granted,” he added. He plans to consider one specific case after another.
An open letter from the Russian-speaking community
In response to Minister Gazdík’s statement, the Russian-speaking community of Brno sent an open letter to the Ministry and the Rectors’ Conference. In it, it primarily seeks equal access to all students.
“Therefore, we would like to ask you not to make decisions based on assumptions. Students from Russia and Belarus living in the Czech Republic openly express their disapproval of the war in Ukraine. (…) Please do not impose sanctions on students from Russia and Belarus that prevent them from being admitted to Czech universities, and do not exclude students from these nationalities who are already studying at universities, ”the letter reads.
They point out that for most students from Russia and Belarus, studying in the Czech Republic has a chance to become part of a free society and pursue their interests.
Brno has not yet received a reply to its open letter. Neither from the Ministry of Education nor from the Rectors’ Conference.
He later told CNN Prima News that schools reported more Russian and Belarusian students. However, as follows from the findings of the List of Reports, most universities from these two countries do not register a significant increase in the number of applications from the ongoing admission procedure.
For example, at the Brno University of Technology, to which Minister Gazdík refers in the interview, they register roughly the same number of applicants from Russia as at this time last year – 836 this year, 843 last year.
“It simply came to our notice then. It should be noted that students from Russia and the former Eastern bloc have long been interested in studying in the Czech Republic, ideally in Czech, because it is free for them regardless of nationality, “adds school spokeswoman Radana Koudelová.
However, two universities are actually reporting an increase in interest in studying, especially among Russians. Although the University of Chemical Technology has comprehensive data only from bachelor’s studies, the number of applications is half as high as last year. 252 Russians want to study at the school. The number of applications also increased to the Czech University of Agriculture, by 30 percent in the case of Russians and by 35 percent in the case of Belarusians, so it is about 2.5 thousand and 200 applications, respectively.