It is our pleasure to present you with the Annual Report for 1997, the fourth such report so far. We are on the way towards establishing a tradition of keeping the public informed, thereby providing a basis for the long-term evaluation of our alma mater.

The year 1997 is an excellent example of a period in which the university's activities were directly dependent on the economic developments of the state; the year also provided a fine example of the university's ability to cope with unfavourable external circumstances. Viewed quantitatively, we may state that in all fundamental areas the university continued the dynamic progress it has been making over the past few years. This progress was, however, retarded by the so-called "economic packages" and a relatively high level of inflation. A continuation of this trend would mean the slowing down or perhaps even the halting of developments in university education, and this in spite of great efforts on the part of university staff and the academic community as a whole. We have thus far been able to cope with the situation, but we have had to use all our reserves and rely on the activities of our staff and on non-standard solutions.

We are delighted at the great number of applicants for study places at our university, and we are trying - so far as we are able - to extend the range of study subjects and the social background we offer our students. We have created conditions which will allow the opening of a new Faculty of Social Studies, we have extended the capacity of halls of residence, and we take care in our evaluation of the opinions MU students and graduates. The economic measures mentioned above caused the postponement - albeit by a few months only - of the completion of building work on the Faculty of Economics and Administration. Our investment policy concentrates on the creation of favourable conditions for the development of the Faculty of Medicine and also the Faculty of Science in Bohunice, where we have succeeded in obtaining the MEDIPO site and have made some progress in our negotiations concerning the ownership of land for new building work.

The fact that there now exist four Annual Reports makes possible accurate comparison and considered evaluation. Nevertheless, the final and fairest appreciation of our activities - as reflected in the success or failure of our graduates - will not be made for many years.

Eduard Schmidt