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OUR RECTOR WELCOMES THE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT UCT

In September 2020, the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague launches new study programs in Economics. This follows from the approval of the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education, which was issued in June this year. The last formal procedures are being completed so that prospective students of a BSc degree in Economics and Management and an MSc degree in Innovation Project Management may enroll during the summer. “There is a long tradition of study programs focusing on economics at UCT with a number of successful graduates. The past few years have brought a departure from this tradition, and I’m glad that this period is now coming to an end with new degree programs in economics and management to be taught at our university starting the upcoming academic year,” says professor Pavel Matějka, rector of UCT, Prague.

Why did the university take the decision to have the new degrees accredited in the first place?
In order to provide high-quality engineering degrees in the fields of chemistry and food technology, UCT Prague also needs to offer its students high-quality subjects in the field of economics; whether it be for the management of industrial projects or for the economic side of research projects—especially in applied research. Such subjects can be taught only by top specialists who will be provided with the appropriate research and educational opportunities in their respective fields. Even with students primarily focusing on economics and management, we expect them to at least dip their toes into chemistry and food technology to some degree, which will develop their aptitude for interdisciplinary cooperation and broaden their future employment opportunities in industrial enterprises and technological firms. Expanding UCT’s subject portfolio in this way is essential if we want to develop UCT into a technological research university.

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Traditional natural sciences and technology degree programs at UCT are notoriously challenging. Is the same degree of difficulty to be required with a degree in economics?
Yes, our high study standards will also apply to students in degree programs focusing on economics. We will not prioritize quantity, as it is the case with our existing degree programs, but rather emphasize the contact between students and their teachers. At the same time, we will put an emphasis on the students’ involvement in research activities and cooperation with the private sector.
Quality education stands or falls with teachers. Who is going to teach the students?
UCT is welcoming experienced specialists, including professors and associate professors, who have so far taught mainly at MIAS CTU. Current UCT academic staff will also be involved. The students will have the opportunity to choose subjects from a broader technological/engineering basis including subjects in chemistry. In these fields of expertise, the university boasts a number of high-quality educators.
On a number of occasions you have declared ‘internationalization’ to be one of your priorities. What are your expectations from the new degree programs regarding this area?
I’m convinced that the team connected with these programs will strengthen instruction in English at UCT, and that the number of both visiting international students and our student mobility will increase. I believe we will bolster instruction in English without degrading the ability of UCT graduates from our Czech degree programs to effectively communicate in Czech. Our aim is to train our students to succeed abroad in international corporations as well as in an exclusively Czech environment, and we intend to prepare for all of these eventualities to the best of our abilities.

Degrees in economics are offered by a number of universities. What will make UCT graduates stand out? And what are their career prospects?
Degree programs in economics at UCT are based on technical foundations and feature challenging studies in mathematics, leading students towards an engineering mindset. We expect our students to find career opportunities in managerial positions not only in chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry companies, but also in technological ones. We appreciate the fact that these programs are supported by the Association of Chemical Industry as well as by the Federation of the Food and Drink Industries of the Czech Republic, and we will continue to cooperate with them even during instruction. I believe that graduates from these programs at a research university such as UCT will be well-versed in research and development, and as qualified specialists, will find job opportunities in scientific research teams and projects. Furthermore, they could also be employed by providers of research grants and projects or within governmental institutions responsible for strategic decision-making processes of research priorities and the means of their funding.
UCT defines itself as a research university. Can we expect a doctoral degree program in economics and management in near the future?
Yes, I strongly believe that in a few years’ time, once the new teams in the area of education and research have established themselves and have connected their activities with the existing research groups at UCT, the required quality outputs will have been documented and it will be possible to apply for a doctoral degree program. Furthermore, securing funding for our doctoral students from projects and establishing cooperation on both national and international levels will be of essence. The sooner the necessary quality standards for the doctoral degree program are met, the better for the bachelor’s and master’s degree students, for the academic staff, and for the whole UCT. Successful development of a doctoral degree program will then facilitate professorship appointment procedures, completing academic career opportunities at UCT.

Published in Universitas Journal (June 30, 2020)

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LEAVING MY COMFORT ZONE WAS THE BEST DECISION I MADE

LackaEverybody knows cliche “never say never”. I have experienced this recently when I applied for Master´s degree programme Project Innovation Management at UCT Prague. As a student finishing another Master´s degree programme at UCT I was thrilled by the opportunity to develop my knowledge in a different field than chemistry.

My and my classmates´ experience with the new programme are affected with COVID-19 pandemic because the classes had to be taken online. It shall be appreciated that the risk of online classes had been taken into consideration before the semester started and so we had a chance to meet with our classmates in person on “adaptation day”. This helped to match faces with the names during MS Teams online lectures. Also, I should mention that I was surprised by the diversity of classmates. There are not only people studying other programme on UCT like me but also already working people, and students from foreign countries. Every subject has also English version so Czech students can meet foreign classmates and vice versa. Our instructors introduced themselves on “adaptation day” so we know who is hiding behind weekly MS Teams presentations which is double important.

At the moment the study is online but at least from my point of view I can say that everyone tries to make it as smooth running as possible. I was pleasantly surprised by larger amount of team projects which is not that common anywhere at UCT. Such team projects can have a form of case studies or semester projects. At least some form of student cooperation is in included almost every subject which is helpful to fulfil our socialization needs. For example, I can mention the subject Project Management, where our team had opportunity to create social media profiles mainly for the Economic programmes at School of Business UCT. Overall, I think everyone imagined studying this semester in a different way.

I have to say that getting out of comfort zone and deciding to apply for Project Innovation Management studies was one of the best decisions I made last year.

Martin Lacka, first-year student, Innovation Project Management (MSc)

SevcikWhat’s the difference between online learning at high school and at university?

As I didn’t study online for my high school classes, I can’t describe the difference. I can say that from my point of view, university studies, either in person or online, have been more time consuming. At the same time, it’s been much more flexible. Nobody is pushing you, nobody is holding your hand saying, “Doing your homework is necessary.” Personally I’m enjoying university—I can arrange my time according to my needs. This includes work, sports and fun, even in these adverse conditions we are facing.

How do you perceive online learning at VŠCHT? What would you emphasize and what not?

All the teachers have been dealing with the situation with enthusiasm, managing the unimaginable and working hard. They’ve been helpful and responsive to all our needs, whether we’re speaking about studies, language barriers or other issues. I’d emphasize the magic of online consultations, the good preparedness of teachers for lessons and the well-prepared study materials. I would only recommend that new students of economic studies get more involved in campus activities.

Have you managed to make any new contacts or friendships during distance studies? Have you taken part in any of the activities that students are offering such as K3S, Senators, Tutors, etc.?

To tell the truth, I’ve made most of my contacts and friendships during the introductory student’s camp. I also met some people during the induction days for students of economics and a few other social events outside of school. I’ve even met some people during online lessons for sure; however, it is a different kind of relationship without meeting in-person. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to get involved in any of the events run by student organizations, but I believe it would be worth it. I have, though, used Tutors several times whenever I needed an answer to questions related to my studies. I definitely had no problem emailing them because they’re all very nice people.

How do you deal with loneliness and being separated from the university environment? Do you have any advice for your classmates?

I live with my parents, and I’ve got a few friends who live nearby. So I don't really have to deal with loneliness. When I struggle with it, I play online games with friends to clear my head. I’ve also got a part-time job which takes up a lot of my time, but it brings me some joy. So, my days aren’t so monotonous. Actually, online studies have helped me a lot to manage all my activities. I would advise my classmates to surround themselves with nice people, try to learn or improve a new skill, or read some new books. Make your day with anything new or anything extraordinary. I wish you all good luck and hope to see you soon in ‘Carbon’.

František Ševčík, first-year student, Economics and Management (BSc)

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