UNYP (The University of New York in Prague)

Innovation and change at the heart of an international university in Prague

Consistently rated as one of the world’s most attractive cities, it’s no surprise to find Prague a host for private international universities like The University of New York in Prague (UNYP). Featured in Forbes magazine last year as an example of “prestigious American education in Prague,” UNYP has made a reputation for itself by offering high-quality education through its partnership with American and European universities. Producing students with the skills to be successful in today’s international business world is vital to the university. As well, the university is constantly looking to the future to find ways to better meet the needs of its multicultural student population.

In one such recent change, UNYP opened a new main campus on Londýnská Street, steps from the I.P. Pavlova metro station and a short walk from Wenceslas Square. The university’s location in a neighborhood bustling with cafes, restaurants and commerce gives its students a chance to interact with the city culturally and at the same time to fulfill their academic curriculum. Prague.TV toured UNYP’s new main campus to get a feel for some of the university’s latest improvements, including a new student café, spaces designed for group interaction, a counseling center and writing & math labs. The new campus also offers technology upgrades like cloud printing, free campus high-speed Wi-Fi and ongoing improvements to make UNYP more ecologically friendly.

Today, the inside of the main building is complete with a few outside projects still finishing up from the renovations that began in August. On the morning of my visit, the university’s new exterior sign had just gone up. Of the relocation to Londýnská from their former campus, which was also in the neighborhood, UNYP’s General Manager, Sotiris Foutsis says, “It’s more than a cosmetic upgrade. Everything is designed to make it feel more like a campus and more like what students would experience in the States at an American university.”

During my tour of the library, I noticed a stand-up computer station for at-your-fingers research as well as two traditional computer labs and a collaborative room with a projector which can be reserved for students working on group projects. On each level, between two lecture rooms, the university has created a “chill-out” space to promote informal student interaction. Of the new facility, Andreas Antonopoulos, University Rector, commented, “We’re giving the students a lot more opportunities to interact with each other socially outside of the classroom. Step by step we want to give them a community feel that we felt was missing in our previous environment.” In the end, I didn’t get to see the project room because a group of students had booked it that morning, but the rest of the library was humming with the low buzz of students at work.

Some of the details of the renovation, like the stand-up-computer station and the addition of a small table in one of the chill-out areas, are a direct result of input from an active Student Council, which meets regularly with UNYP’s General Manager, Sotiris Foutsis as well as other heads of administration to make sure that the university best understands its students’ needs.

Innovation and change are keys to making the university one of the top choices for private English language education in Prague. In addition to a well-equipped, modern academic facility, students at UNYP will soon have the opportunity of experiencing a new type of student living as well.

The University’s recent acquisition of two residential buildings on nearby Belgicka Street will earn them the acclaim of being the first private university in Prague to house its students within a minute’s walk from the school’s main campus. The student housing facilities should be ready for occupation by summer of 2016. They will be called “Belgicka Residence,” and are not to be mistaken for dormitory housing. Instead, luxury apartments will be converted to student living with a capacity for 125 beds. Adding student living to the same neighborhood as the educational facility will help UNYP strengthen the interactive university community it is building. From the upstairs office where I sat, I could see the future student living buildings less than a block away.

With more than 600 undergraduate students and 100 graduates enrolled in UNYP programs, the university draws students from the Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia in addition to a strong international student base. The blend of nationalities creates an atmosphere where students learn from their peers how things work in different nations.

Antonopoulos says that students are attracted by the University’s method of teaching students how to think, rather than what to know. It has the added benefit of being the only university in the Czech Republic to offer both an accredited American degree and an accredited European degree for undergraduate study. In addition to its undergraduate programs, it also has a range of internationally accredited Masters, MBA and Ph.D. studies.

Of the academic path at UNYP, Antonopoulos says, “It’s more about critical thinking, problem solving and things that are happening in real life. UNYP gives students a 360 degree education so that when they go to the work force, they are prepared.” After graduation, UNYP graduates have been recruited by international companies like Socialbakers, ExxonMobil, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Philip Morris and InBev. Antonopoulos says that international companies are eager to recruit UNYP graduates.
He gives credit for UNYP students’ success in the work place saying, “It’s a mix of having the knowledge they need to succeed in the job as well as the English skills to be competitive on an international scale.”

Beyond academic study at UNYP, students can expect to find an array of educational and social opportunities. An active Student Services center assists with visas, living accommodations and general support. Regular career advice lectures are led by successful alumni from Price Waterhouse Coopers and other companies. In cooperation with Student Council, the university is hosting a series of TEDx talks with keynote speeches by Pepper de Callier, well-known coach and mentor and Juan Nicolas Pinzon Guevara, winner of the prestigious “Mission Branson” contest, allowing him the opportunity to work directly with Sir. Richard Branson. TEDxUNYP will be held on November 7th at the UNYP Auditorium. The event will be free with a limited number of seats available for the general public.

UNYP’s Director of Marketing & Communications, Mark Anderson says, “We’ve tapped into what the students are looking for and we’re letting them know that they’re ready. It’s important for the University to ’Take the Next Step' because it’s ready.”

As UNYP transitions to its new location and takes steps to create its new student housing, there is no question that innovation and change will continue to operate at the heart of the University’s future.

For details on TEDxUNYP talks, contact tedxunyp(at)unyp.cz or visit the TEDxUNYP site.

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