Prague universities

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Malá Strana

As a city of 1.1 million, Prague boasts a host of impressive and well-connected universities. This is not surprising as the birth of Prague universities in 1349, when the city was at its height as the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, made the Czech Republic, then Bohemia, only the seventh nation in Europe to have established such a seat of learning. Since then, higher education has flourished and Prague’s historic standing as a meeting of trade routes has been echoed in its accommodation of international private universities as well as public institutions.

Of the many Prague universities, the oldest and most prestigious is Charles University in Prague. Established by Pope Clement VI at the request of Charles of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, in 1349, the premier university of the Czech Republic was originally modeled on the University of Paris. Operating with university privileges and immunities from the secular power, the Charles University produced many prominent scholars including Jan Hus, who would later be burned at the stake for heresy, and Albert Einstein, who studied at the German University after the university was split into two the Czech and German divisions.

Today the Charles University of Prague operates seventeen faculties. Significant, given its religious roots and history, three of these faculties are theological. Of the other fourteen, eight are science related with Medicine being exceptionally represented among these. Having survived through the years of religious fervor, military occupation and communism, the Charles University in Prague was one of the major birthplaces of the revolutionary movement that resulted in the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the freedom of the Czech Republic.

A notable absence from the faculties of Charles University in Prague is the study of Commerce and Economics. This is an area of expertise taken up by the University of Economics Prague, and it has enjoyed consistent success through its bachelor, masters and doctoral programs. Occupying three sites, the University of Economics Prague has a city campus, a campus in the outer suburbs and another approximately 110 kilometers (66 miles) south-east of the capital.

Recognizing a deficit in the offerings of higher education in Prague, the Czech Technical University established the Commercial College as a department in 1919. Its popularity and success saw the school break away in 1949 to become the University of Political and Economic Sciences. Within the newly imposed culture of Soviet Communism, the University was renamed in 1953 and has continued to produce such impressive results that it was ranked within the top hundred business schools in the world in 2010.

Just as the University of Economics Prague grew from a need in the overall higher education structure of the Czech Republic, the Czech Technical University was established in 1707 by Emperor Joseph I to encourage the development of technical studies. The oldest technical institute in Europe, The Czech Technical University operates eight faculties with a significant focus being devoted to a variety of engineering studies.

Among the many successful scholars produced by the Czech Technical University were the famous Austrian mathematician and physicist Christian Doppler and Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. The overall success of the university is acknowledged through its continually improving international ranking which had reached 121st in the world in 2010.

There are a number of other prestigious universities in Prague, including private and international establishments, such as New York University in Prague, University of North Virginia and University of Pittsburgh. The range and standard of the Universities of Prague have established the city as a formidable and exciting centre of higher education in Europe.


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