Monday, May 28, 2012

Comenius University

A little late...but finally finished...
My vocational day in Bratislava was with Vladamier Frecer, with the Pharmacy faculty at Comenius University, and Jakub, a PhD student in the department. Comenius University is Slovakia's largest University and was established in 1919. The university currently consists of faculties of medicine, pharmacy, law, philosophy, education, management, physical education, social and economical sciences, natural sciences, theology, and math, physics and informatics.
We started our day with lots of information about the school. It sounds like there are good things happening on their campus. Jakub is actually working on research on new drugs that impact cellular growth in cancer patients. I don't know much about the research (over my head), but I am sure one day I will be able to say "I met them once" as they continue to do great research in the field.

Main building for the University. The buildings and faculties are actually scattered across the city like many of our urban campuses.

Lecture/assembly hall in the main building. Such a beautiful space. This is actually a photo from online. There were presentations in the room while we were there, so I didn't take any photos.

University library in the old town of Bratislava.
Overall, an excellent day. I have learned so much about higher education in both countries. I think there is a lot we can learn from them in our country. One of the major differences is the cost of higher education. Even the costs for those from other countries to attend public Universities is less than our traditional in-state tuition. Fundraising at the Universities is very different...even between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Schools in both countries do work with grants for research, but there is still some concern from many in the systems about partnering with corporations on research grants. Individual giving is another story. I already explained that it is an emerging idea in the Czech Republic, but it is still very uncommon in Slovakia. Here, individuals are able to assign up to 2% of their taxes to charitable organizations. I don't know if much or any of that goes towards higher education.
This was not my only encounter with education in Slovakia. I was fortunate to also be staying with Blanka Schellingova and her family (thank you for everything...I had a great time). Blanka was formerly with the Ministry of Education and was one of the key players in the start of adult and continuing education in Slovakia. We had great conversations during the week about her work with the program.
Next stop on the vocational tour...back to VSB in Ostrava to continue meeting with their staff about fundraising and to learn more about the University.

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