International cooperation

Prof. PhDr. Jiří Šrámek, CSc.

Department of International Relations

An extremely important event from an international point of view was the meeting on May 5-6 1997 of the board of the Confederation of Rectors' Conferences chaired by Prof. Hans Uwe Erichsen. Ing. Ivan Pilip, Minister of Education of the Czech Republic, and representatives of the Czech Rectors' Conferences took part in a discussion on the participation of associate EU countries in educational programmes of European Union countries. Participants at the meeting were received by Dagmar Lastovecká, Mayor of Brno.

Teachers and students went abroad to study or to attend language courses under international cultural agreements between the Czech Republic and other countries, a situation of which 14 teachers and 22 students were able to take advantage.

Staff exchanges were performed under bilateral agreements with universities in Vienna, Regensburg, Greifswald, Dresden, Wroclaw, Poznan, Katowice, Szeged and Dijon. Masaryk University sent abroad 51 of its staff and welcomed 42 visitors from the above-mentioned universities.

In addition to quotas for staff exchanges, some partner universities granted Masaryk University scholarships for its students or postgraduate students: the University of Regensburg (Germany) - 4 scholarships for a summer school in German; the University of Utrecht (Holland) - 3 scholarships for the "Dutch Society and Culture" course; the University of Freiburg (Switzerland) - one 9-month scholarship. The University of Szeged (Hungary) held a student conference and settled expenses for 6 MU students. Two students went to the University of Greifswald (Germany) to study for a semester. As part of Masaryk University's programme of cooperation with the European University of Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder (Germany), 7 students (winter semester) and 6 students (summer semester) from the Faculties of Law, Economics and Administration and Arts went to the latter to study.

Thanks to the support of the Departments of International Relations of the Rector's Offices of both schools, the first foreign-currency-free exchange of students of Polish Studies at the MU Faculty of Arts and Polish students of Czech Studies at the University of Wroclaw (Poland) was able to be realised.

A student of the Faculty of Law was awarded a Jan Velecký Foundation scholarship at the University of Glasgow (Great Britain). Two students - one from the Faculty of Law and the other from the Faculty of Economics and Administration - were granted Paul Robitschek Foundation scholarships at the University of Nebraska (USA) for the academic year 1997/1998. An Edgewood College (USA) scholarship for was granted for the summer semester to a student at the Faculty of Education.

Based on membership of the Utrecht Network, a conference on the EU's Socrates-Erasmus programme was held at the Rector's Office of MU on July 6 - 7 1997. Representatives of universities of Utrecht, Leipzig and Lund passed on their experience and gave practical advice on the issuing of an institutional contract with the Brussels office. The conference was attended by representatives of Brno schools of higher education and universities of Cracow, Lodz, Debrecen, Budapest and Bratislava.

The year 1997 saw the first awarding of the Compostela University Group Prize. The seven-member board of judges, which included MU Rector Prof. Schmidt, chose as its recipient Jacques Santer, Chairman of the European Commission. The 3rd General Meeting was held in London and MU Rector Prof. Schmidt and Vice-Rector for International Relations Prof. Šrámek were among the participants. It was decided that the 4th General Meeting will be held in 1998 at MU Brno. Prof. Šrámek, a member of the executive committee, was authorized to organize discussion and propose membership in the group to other universities in central and eastern Europe, with prospective membership of the group being approved at the General Meeting in Brno.

In 1995, the European Union introduced the SOCRATES educational programme aimed at EU member countries. The Czech Republic and other countries of central and eastern Europe entered the programme in 1997. SOCRATES comprises a variety of sub-programmes, of which ERASMUS concentrates on the field of university education. The sub-programme's activities are implemented on the basis of an institutional contract between the Commission of the European Union and Masaryk University, and this we prepared intensively throughout the year.

Preparation work included correspondence and negotiation with foreign universities, information meetings and presentations at faculties. By November 15, the institutional contract was completed, and this has enabled the the following: in the course of the academic year 1998/1999 115 students will spend 493 months abroad and 92 foreign students will study for 389 months in the Czech Republic. Sixty-four teachers will travel abroad for a total of 193 weeks and another 4 teachers will carry out negotiations at foreign universities as part of so-called preparatory visits. The Faculty of Medicine will act as a partner in the intensive programme. We have asked for ECU 121,000 as the figure which would settle the expenses of our activities.

In March, Masaryk University was one of the exhibitors at the 12th information fair on study and job opportunities which is held annually in Vienna and aimed at school-leavers who are in the process of deciding whether to continue their studies or to enter professional life. At the fair, universities from home and abroad presented their study programmes to Austrian students.

In October, a visit to the former concentration camp in Mauthausen was organized for representatives of all faculties. In 1990, a memorial plaque in tribute to the teachers of Masaryk University and other Brno schools of higher education who died here was unveiled, and this is in our care. After a short speech by Vice-Rector Bravený, the life and work of Prof. Jan Florian of the Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Josef Tvrdý of the Faculty of Arts and Prof. Antonín Šimek of the Faculty of Science were commemorated.

The members of the University's senior management team were provided with all necessary services connected with their business trips. Departments of International Relations provided all staff and students representing the University on trips abroad with foreign currency.

Public relations

On May 13 and for the first time in the history of MU, the "Dies Academicus" academic meeting was held. This festive meeting saw the participation of Rectors of Czech and Slovak universities and representatives of the City of Brno and important institutions which sponsor and cooperate with MU. After an opening speech by the Rector Prof. Schmidt, the Rector's Prizes were awarded for excellent academic and study achievements to teachers and students together with the Rector's honorable recognition of excellence in sport in the representing of MU at international level. Prof. Milan Jelínek, the first Rector after 1989, held a speech on "The Czech Language in a Transformed Society".

A press conference was held quarterly at which the mass media were informed of current events and activities at Masaryk University.

A column of Academic News was prepared monthly for Univerzitní noviny [= university newspaper] in which readers were informed of significant events concerning foreign matters.

For the management of MU and its faculties, monitoring of newspapers was conducted daily to provide news from the fields of education, science and culture. Photographs of events organized by and held at Masaryk University are kept in the University archives.

As to periodicals, a Diary of Significant Events at Masaryk University in 1997 was published in a Czech-English version, as was the Annual Report for 1996. The variety of printed matter was extended by the first issue of the Information Newsletter of the Rector's Office of Masaryk University. This was published in Czech and English and contained the most significant events in the life of the University in the first six months of 1997.

In the form of self-contained notebooks, an information brochure on Masaryk University, its faculties and departments was published in English. The brochure is part of a so-called information package for student exchanges organized by the EU SOCRATES-ERASMUS programme.

A Student Guide to Masaryk University and the City of Brno was prepared in Czech and English and is soon to be published. This booklet will help visitors to familiarize themselves with both the University and the city and is also part of the above-mentioned "information package".

A Christmas concert for Brno's academic and general public was held in the Grand Hall of the University under the auspices of the Rector. Christmas music of Czech and non-Czech origin was performed by the University Choir, Helfert's Orchestral Society and many solo artists.

The University cooperated on many occasions with important local institutions in the public, cultural and commercial spheres. A meeting of MU management with representatives of these institutions was held at the end of 1997. Guests were informed of the University's principal projects for 1998 and appreciation of their support was expressed.