Statement of the Initiative for Independent Universities
Two decades ago students and academics reclaimed academic freedom and autonomy of universities as part of the restored civil liberties. We consider universities as independent only if academic community with appropriate representation of students, teachers and researchers decides the questions relevant to its functioning in a manner that is democratic and independent of political and economic powers. Present government jeopardizes this freedom by the changes of the higher education laws it proposes.
We do not want to maintain the status quo of higher education – as members of academic community we know the situation at the universities better than any state official or politician drafting the new acts. Is it not alarming that The Council of Higher Education Institutions of the Czech Republic, Czech University Rectors Conference and an overwhelming majority of academic senates assumed a negative attitude to both of the two proposed draft bills? Not only have we refused the imposed bills, but we openly state: the problem of the legislative intents is not hidden in details and in formulations that could possibly be better put together or explained by a wiser minister. We disapprove of the basic ideas expressed in the prepared reforms of higher education, their goals and the ways they are being upheld.
Reformist ministers believe that market and managerial direction are superior to other organisational principles of social institutions. This is just a step away from short-sighted view of education as commodity, which students may touch, tamper with and buy or perhaps leave alone, and then sell on the labour market in the form of their qualification.
However, we understand the meaning and the mission of higher education differently. They lie in getting to know the world, for some in changing it, and in sharing the understanding with others. Neither the teacher nor the student is here only for the other, the less for their own interest. They are both here for science, general as well as particular. At the same time universities play unique educational role. They cultivate in people the power not to take part in the pre-defined view of the world; i.e. the independent critical thinking. In fulfilling this role they are irreplaceable. They do not keep the benefit gained this way for themselves: as public property they are in service of the whole society. The democratic societies should in our opinion open access to education to everyone, according to their own talents, without further charges.
The fundamental condition for the existence of independent universities is their autonomy. What does it mean? The freedom to elect and remove its own administration, to make arrangements about the use of the publicly allocated resources and decide about activities the school will engage in.
The changes proposed by the government aim to curb these freedoms. How? By restricting the possibility to elect university administration by its academic community, shifting the authority and substituting part of the election by appointments from above. By limiting the authority to dispose of the property entrusted to them by universities’ own decisions and by allowing private financial and commercial interest to enter university economy. By restricting the academic freedom and tying the schooling and research up with the current needs of the private sector. Even the universities should succumb to the invisible hand of the market: researchers should work to order, teachers should lecture what the labour market demands, the graduates should become fachidiots – products mastering the skills needed for someone else’s private interest. The universities are to be put in serfdom.
We call not only on the academic community but on general public to help us prevent universities from being enslaved! Join the protests! We do not fight for our privileges, we defend the freedom of science and its application and by that the freedom of the society as such!
|Karolína Babíčková||Karolína Chloubová||Hana Nováková|
|Vít Bejček||Jan Chmelíček||David Pavlorek|
|Tomáš Beka||Petr Klika||Jiří Pilip|
|Otakar Bureš||Štěpánka Klímková||Apolena Rychlíková|
|Richard Ciesler||Kateřina Kňapová||Luboš Rypka|
|Václav Drozd||Michael Komm||Vít Strobach|
|Alice Červinková||Kateřina Konaříková||Matěj Stropnický|
|Helena Exnerová||Václav Krajňanský||Michal Uhl|
|Dominik Forman||Kateřina Krejčová||Iva Větrovcová|
|Petr Glivický||Radoslava Krylová||Michaela Vojtková|
|Jan Gruber||Jan Kviz||Václav Walach|
|Marta Harasimowicz||Jan Martínek|
|Karel Chlouba||Lukáš Matoška|
|Prof. Pavel Barša||Ing. Věra Roubalová-Kostlánová|
|Bohumír Dufek||prof. JUDr. N. Rozehnalová,CSc.|
|Prof. PhDr. Tomáš Halík Th.D.||Břetislav Rychlík|
|prof. PhDr. Jaroslav Hroch, CSc.||Doc. MgA Olga Sommerová|
|Mgr. Jiří Hromada||Mgr. Anna Šabatová Ph.D.|
|Vít Janeček||PhDr. Jiřina Šiklová CSc.|
|Prof. PhDr. Josef Jařab, CSc.||Doc. Ing. Ilona Švihlíková Ph.D.|
|Prof. PhDr. Jan Keller CSc.||Karel Vachek|
|Prof. Erazim Kohák PhD.||Prof. PhDr. Zbyněk Vybíral, PhD.|
|Mons. Václav Malý||Prof. Jiří Zlatuška|
|Martin C. Putna||Prof. Stanislav Štech|
Full list of first signators and their messages HERE.