Interview with Douglas Hajek – Prague College
The co-founder and director of Prague College discusses new summer courses
You have recently opened up the school’s facilities and staff so that people from outside the college can participate in what you are calling your ‘summer courses’. Why did you decide to do this and how successful has this been?
We have long planned to open a summer session in addition to the regular academic semesters. This is the first year it has been practical because of previous timetabling issues. We are extremely happy with this summer intensive session. Approximately 75% of the students were from our regular programmes, and 25% were new students trying a class at Prague College for the first time. We are very happy to bring the new students together with current students to enhance the experience for both. Next June we plan to double the number of classes on offer in the summer intensive session.
You are the only college in Prague that offers courses that are accredited by an English university rather than US. Are most of your students British, or where do they come from?
Our accreditation is provided by Teesside University, a British public university with a great reputation. For example, they were recently named University of the Year by the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards, and they regularly receive commendations and awards for their involvement with business and industry, support for students and their work with international students in particular. We now offer seven different degrees in cooperation with Teesside University at the Bachelors and Masters level.
Our students come from almost 100 countries. About 40% are Czech and another 40% are foreigners already residing in the Czech Republic. Many of these foreigners will be fully integrated into Czech society, functionally bilingual or trilingual, and able to choose from any of the universities in the Czech Republic. Others foreign students will have arrived relatively recently and look to study in English as their primary goal. About 20% of our students are international students in the traditional sense - they have chosen Prague College as their destination for university and have come to this country for the purpose of study.
The new intake of students is in September. What courses will you be offering to new students?
We are introducing a BA (Hons) Applied Accounting & Business Finance degree in September and are very excited about the possibilities with this programme. The rationale for this programme is three-fold: many students have been requesting such a degree specialization, our faculty is particularly strong in experience and current research in these areas, and employers are looking for graduates able to navigate their way through international accounting and finance reporting.
Our Computing programmes have also been enhanced recently with multimedia, animation and game design options, as well as the introduction in 2013 of the MSc Computing degree.
I should also point to our English for Higher Education and Foundation Diploma programmes, which now cover all our subject areas and provide an option for students who lack the language skills or confidence in a British academic environment to proceed directly to the degree. About 10% of the college is comprised of students on these programmes.
Do you have any success stories amongst your previous students?
Vit Horky and Matt Butler are two international management graduates who have launched Brand Embassy, a very interesting tech start-up generating significant national and international interest. The company has recently moved its headquarters to London and it is active around the world.
Helene Jacoube and Marusa Racic are two graphic design graduates who have won very prestigious international awards this year for the work produced during their degree study. They join Milan Nedved, Laetetia Desroches and Filip Triner, who have received similar awards in recent years that are considered to be the height of student success in the design field.
There are many other individual success stories, including career advancement and entrepreneurial activity, a selection of which can be found on our website.
How closely do you work with the business world in the Czech Republic? Do your students have the opportunity to experience life as it will be when they graduate?
Prague College has always been identified as a place to get a very practical university education. In particular, our focus on experiential learning is characterized by opportunities for practical projects, fieldwork, live projects, internships, business simulations, global and local case studies, ongoing contact with industry and relevant research-based teaching.
Prague College works with hundreds of companies and organizations in both informal and formal settings, providing everything from guest speaker opportunities to live practical projects. Our Industry Network and Industry Council have been developed to build and develop such collaboration between the academic and industry environments.
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