Education ministers from those countries have decided to band
together to learn from each other and make strides toward reforms to
help them compete with their Western counterparts.
Charles University in Prague was founded in 1348. Jagiellonian
University in Krakow, Poland, has been around since 1364, while
Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest has been operating since 1635.
But after 40 years of communism, the educational systems of the
Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have fallen behind
those of their Western neighbors. Now, education ministers from
those countries -- who cooperate on a variety of issues under the
umbrella of the Visegrad Group -- have decided to band together to
learn from each other and make strides toward reform.
"We have seen a rapid development of our higher education systems
over the last 20 years," Josef Dobes, the education, youth and
sports minister for the Czech Republic, said during an interview
last month in Prague. He added that the influence of the Bologna
Process, which created a European Higher Education Area to
facilitate international cooperation and academic exchange, has
changed the way the four countries view their educational systems.
They realize, he said, the importance of being open to more student
mobility, including recognition of foreign degrees, and of other
countries recognizing degrees from the Visegrad countries so that
their educational system and its graduates can stay internationally
Barbara Kudrycka, the minister of science and higher education in
Poland, said by e-mail last month that "the higher education systems
in our countries were developing for decades in similar conditions
and therefore, just after achieving long awaited democracy, were to
deal with similar problems: far too low population of students, as
compared to the Western countries, 'academic drift' in study
programs and others."
"Now we try to do our best to make up the past decades' delays,"
In November, the education ministers from the four countries
decided to form a working group made up of people from the
ministries and academics. The ministers would like to see this group
share the best of individual changes being made in each country. The
goal is to strengthen public confidence in higher education across
the region as well as build trust in individual universities and
their results so that the nations can better compete in an
The ministers say the group will discuss how these measures will
be implemented to achieve both national objectives, based on their
own education laws, and international ones, based on E.U. and
Bologna Process directives. …