Currently, 4497 international students from 108 countries study at Palacký University Olomouc. Year-on-year their number has been growing, increasing by more than a hundred percent over the past decade.
Palacký University Olomouc is a modern educational institution with a wide range of study programmes and scientific activities. Today, more than 20,000 students are studying at its eight faculties, and the number of those coming from abroad is increasing year after year.
“The increase in the number of foreign students corresponds to the current strategy of our university. The key to success in the global world of quality university education is targeted, purposeful internationalisation,” said Martin Kudláček, Vice-Rector for International Relations. As a matter of fact, UP received the prestigious European Association for International Education (EIAE) 2019 Institutional Award for its successful international strategy.
In 2019, 4497 foreign students from 108 countries studied at UP. Compared to the previous year, it means 452 more students. If the numbers of foreign students are compared with 2008, there are 2355 more today. Within a decade, the number of foreign students at UP has increased by more than a hundred percent.
According to the head of the Foreign Relations Department, Dalibor Mikuláš, in comparison to 2018, there are currently more students from Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, Poland, France, Italy, Israel, Germany, Japan, China, Turkey, and Kazakhstan studying at the Olomouc’s university.
“In the last three years, we have actively participated in major international educational trade fairs in Europe, Asia, and North and South Americas. We are successful in the Erasmus+ KA 103 and Erasmus+ KA 107 programmes, so these programmes are responsible for the increased numbers of students from countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey,” said Mikuláš. He added that the increase in the number of students from Germany is related to the attractivity of paid foreign-language study programmes. “Students from Japan prefer short-term stays, while Israeli students are strongly interested in studying medicine in English. Currently, we are pleased with the increase in the number of Polish students who come to UP mainly through the Erasmus and CEEPUS programmes. Students from other Slavic countries come to study in Czech, the main reason being the growing reputation and quality of our university,” explained the head of the university’s foreign department. According to him, the list of UP educational activities is also successfully complemented by summer and winter schools, organised primarily in English and attended mainly by students from Chinese universities.
In UP undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, foreign students are most interested in studying medicine. In the last two years, there has also been a huge interest in international development studies, and the demand for psychology has increased. In terms of exchange stays at UP, the most popular fields are all philology programmes often in conjunction with history, all kinds of education including special education, law, political science, geography, physical education and sports, and more.
“Personally, I am very pleased that there is a growing interest in UP from abroad, but we would like to strengthen our foreign-language Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes even more. We still have great potential in this respect. The aim of Palacký University is to be an international centre of education with a substantial and long-term contribution to the city, region, and in many ways also the Czech Republic,” concluded Mikuláš.
Total number of foreign students in 2019: 4497. Total number of countries: 108. Increase of foreign students compared to 2013: 72.7%. Increase in international students compared to 2008: 109.9%.
Erbil. The capitol of Iraqi Kurdistan. A modern and dynamically developing metropolis, at the same time one of the oldest cities in the world, on the UNESCO World Heritage List. And now also the seat of an educational project in which Palacký University is playing a major role.
Only a few months ago the only footprint Olomouc had in this historically significant area of Iraq was the work of archaeologists from UP. This is no longer the case. UP has launched a lifelong learning programme in Erbil called Petroleum Engineering. “We received a training license from the Kurdistan regional government and officially launched our activities in Erbil last week. However, everything is still in its infancy,” commented UP Rector Jaroslav Miller.
UP wants to gradually expand its activities in Erbil. It plans to teach up to six Bachelor’s degree programmes; however, everything will depend on the results of the ongoing accreditation procedure. Several other universities are also considering joining the project. “Initially, we will teach primarily Kurdish students. If successful, we have ambitions to expand the project to attract students from the wider region and thus become a ‘Czech educational centre’ in the Middle East,” said Martin Kudláček, Vice-Rector for International Relations, about the project.
“The ethos of development aid plays the most important role in this project,” said Rector Miller. “Iraqi Kurdistan is by far the most dynamic part of the country, it has high autonomy and needs teachers, doctors, engineers, and an educated elite in general. We are honoured to be their mentors and partners in this respect,” he explained. He compared the UP activities in Erbil to what the Olomouc university experienced after the Velvet Revolution. “After the fall of communism, partners from Western Europe and the USA helped our university back up on its feet. That is one reason we have become a strong and influential Central European institution. Now we have the opportunity to take on this commendable mission and similarly help this fast-growing region on its journey to more permanent prosperity.”
The project in Erbil has two benefits, qualitative and financial, for UP. “There is the potential to attract motivated postgraduate students which the region needs, while increasing our university’s competitiveness and reputation in the global context. Having a higher number of foreign paying students enrolled at our university and increasing the number of participating departments also plays a role,” said Miller.
One of the issues discussed in the context of the Middle East is security, critically important in the aftermath of recent developments in Iran-US relations. In this respect, UP is in close contact with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is ready to respond promptly to the current situation. “From the perspective of the Ministry, the autonomous Kurdistan Region and the city of Erbil are a long-term safe area. Moreover, the Czech Republic has its Consulate General in Erbil,” said Vice-Rector Kudláček. “However, we are paying close attention to the current situation in the region and are leaving nothing to chance. We have mechanisms in place that ensure the safety of our employees to the maximum. For example, in relation to the latest events, we are temporarily minimising the number of our people in Erbil,” added the UP Vice-Rector for International Relations.
Thanks to the physical chemist Michal Otyepka, Executive Director of the Regional Centre of Advanced Technology and Materials (RCPTM) at Palacký University Olomouc, the first ever European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept grant goes to the Czech Republic to promote the transfer of research results into practice. It aims to prepare a sufficient amount of new carbon electrode material and, in collaboration with a commercial partner, verify its use in energy storage facilities—supercapacitors. The US AVX Corporation has already shown interest in testing, and other major producers from Europe are under negotiation.
Thanks to this one-year project, the physical chemist can capitalize upon and commercialize the results he and his team have achieved through the ERC Consolidator grant obtained in 2016.
“The goal of my first ERC grant was to understand the chemical rules of the two-dimensional world of carbon materials and subsequently look for new, super-functional graphene-derived materials for specific uses. Among other things, we have verified that with a targeted chemical treatment of graphene, we can prepare suitable electrode materials, which are a major part of so-called supercapacitors used, for example, in the automotive industry or electrical engineering. Now one of the developed materials that shows very promising results in laboratory conditions will be produced in greater quantities and tested in real parts in collaboration with a foreign partner,” explained Otyepka.
The new material has high capacity and could be cheaper
Graphene, a two-dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms, has a variety of extraordinary properties. Its derivatives are perfectly suitable for using in energy storage in supercapacitors. They are light, run electric current and allow large amounts of electrical charge to accumulate. The scientists in Olomouc used the commonly available industrial lubricant fluorographite to develop the new material. By chemical synthesis, they subsequently prepared a new material that can store large amounts of energy, and its production could be far cheaper when compared with existing electrode materials.
”The material does not contain any heavy metals, is relatively simple to prepare and is associated with significantly lower energy costs than it’s common in existing commercially used materials. While their synthesis normally takes place at temperatures of 600 to 1,000 degrees Celsius; with our material, we are able to perform it at temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius. We also achieve excellent results with respect to the number of charging and discharging cycles, which is another important parameter. While similar materials experience capacity declines after thousands of charging cycles, our material is stable even after tens of thousands of cycles,” added Otyepka.
From lab to manufacturing practice
However, the transition from laboratory to industrial practice always represents a big leap for scientists. Not all procedures and processes are always easily transferable from the laboratory to production practice. While scientists have so far prepared and tested only gram quantities of the material, they will now have to supply at least half a kilogram to the commercial partner. Thanks to the European project with funding of approximately CZK 3.7 million, they will jointly verify that it works in real components. “I am confident that the Proof of Concept Grant will help you to further explore the innovation potential of your project building on your ERC funded results,” wrote the ERC President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon to Professor Otyepka.
Jaroslav Miller, the UP Rector, also expressed his excitement at the fact that the university is the first to have won such a grant in the Czech Republic. “It is a fantastic achievement of Professor Otyepka and Palacký University. The combination of personal motivation, inspiring and competitive environment and support for science from the side of the university bears fruit. I sincerely hope that other colleagues will follow in Professor Otyepka’s footsteps,” said the rector.
The uniqueness of Professor Otyepka’s success was confirmed by Zuzana Čapková of the Technology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences. “Two Proof of Concept projects have been previously submitted for the Czech Republic within the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, but neither has received funding,” said Čapková.
200 grants from 22 countries have succeeded
European Research Council (ERC) grants fund cutting-edge research across all scientific disciplines. The Council grants support to individual investigators and their research teams, with the scientific excellence of the project application and the investigator being the only evaluation criterion. The Proof of Concept aims to support successful ERC grant investigators at the earliest stage of commercialising the outputs of their research activities. The total budget for this competition in 2019 was €30 million. In total, 498 proposals were evaluated last year, with an average success rate of 40 percent. 200 grants were awarded to researchers in 22 countries. In Germany, for example, 15 succeeded, in the UK 34, in Hungary two and in Switzerland 13.
Michal Otyepka, 44, is the Executive Director of RCPTM and also heads the Department of Physical Chemistry at the UP Faculty of Science. He dedicates his research to studying the structure and properties of nanomaterials and biomacromolecules, was behind the discovery of fluorographene, among other things, participated in the discovery of the first non-metallic magnet. He has held a Neuron Impuls grant awarded by the Neuron Fund for Support of Science and is a member of the Czech Learned Society. He has so far published over 200 publications in scientific journals that have received more than 11,000 citations.
A new carbon electrode material suitable for supercapacitors, that is, energy storage devices used for example in the automotive industry or electrical engineering, has been developed by RCPTM scientists. This fluorographene-based material has comparable capacity to commercially used materials; however, it’ is much more affordable and accessible. The results of roughly two-year research were described by the authors in an article published recently in the journal Nanoscale.
The researchers used fluorographite, a commonly available industrial lubricant, to prepare an electrode material. In a hydrogen atmosphere, they defluorinated and partially hydrogenated it at an elevated temperature. “Thanks to the elevated temperature, some of the fluorine atoms detached from the original material and were replaced by hydrogen atoms in a reduced hydrogen atmosphere. With respect to this, the conductivity of the material changed as well. We further optimized the reaction time. We found that after 20 hours of heating, the material reached its optimal composition and yielded the best capacity properties,” said one of the authors Petr Jakubec.
Conductivity ranks among the key properties of suitable electrode materials for supercapacitors. Another important feature of supercapacitors is the maximum number of charging cycles without loss of capacity. In this regard, as well, the new material has very promising parameters. “We carried out 30,000 cycles of repetitive charge and discharge without observing a drop in capacity. Compared to the literature, such a performance is exceptional. Commonly reported numbers for similar materials are one to 10,000 cycles; everything that goes beyond is interesting,” Petr Jakubec added.
Scientists at RCPTM have been developing new materials for supercapacitors for several years. What they have been particularly focused on are other materials having better properties and lower price. “In this case, the possibility of commercial use is guaranteed by reasonable price and simple preparation. This is due to not only a readily available starting material, but also a simple and single-stage synthesis. There is no need for complex solvents, heavy metals and inert environments. While testing the supercapacitors, we used as an electrolyte an aqueous solution of commonly available and cheap sodium sulphate, which is, like fluorographite, available on the market in tonnes,” explained another author of the study Martin Petr.
The research was part of an ERC grant called Two-Dimensional Chemistry Towards New Graphene Derivatives, which is solved by a team led by Michael Otyepka. It aims to prepare graphene-derived super-functional materials whose properties are tailored to specific applications. It is the area of “storing” electricity that seems very prospective in this regard.
A long-standing puzzle surrounding the relationship of an evolutionarily interesting lineage of beetles from the Middle East has been resolved by an international team of scientists led by Robin Kundrata from the Department of Zoology at the Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc. Using molecular data analysis and a thorough examination of morphological characteristics, scientists have included Cydistinae beetles in a relationship with American bioluminescent beetles akin to click beetles and fireflies. The study results were published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
Cydistinae, which have so far contained only seven described species of one genus Cydistus inhabiting the region from Asia Minor to Iran, have been a challenge for systematic entomologists until recently. “This group contains a unique combination of morphological characteristics, which has always made it difficult for scientists to classify it correctly within the beetle system. Although some authors have pointed out that Cydistinae share some morphological structures with representatives of the American bioluminescent family Phengodidae, other features were different and did not confirm this hypothesis. Moreover, there has been no phylogenetic analysis to test the classification of Cydistinae,” said Kundrata, the main author of the study. In addition to one of his students from Palacký University, several experts took part in the research, including Dominik Vondráček from the National Museum in Prague and other colleagues from Germany, Russia and the United States.
In order to study Cydistinae family relationships, scientists have had to rely solely on the morphological features of adult males, as neither the female nor the larvae are known in the group at all. “In the recent volumes of the prestigious book series Handbook of Zoology, this little-known lineage of beetles was classified within the infraorder Elateriformia as an ‘incertae sedis’, that is, a group with an uncertain position, whose classification in a family is not known, nor in a particular superfamily,” Kundrata pointed out.
Now, for the first time, scientists have sequenced the DNA of several Cydistinae representatives to test the Cydistinae family relationships on the basis of molecular data. The results of phylogenetic analyses based on nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences in combination with a detailed study of all available morphological features have shown that Cydistinae belong to the Phengodidae family. Together with them, these beetles are related to the Asian family Rhagophthalmidae.
“Both Phengodidae and Rhagophthalmidae are akin to fireflies and click beetles. Like these lineages, they have the ability to become bioluminescent, i.e. they can emit light radiation. This phenomenon is most noticeable especially in the larvae of the American Phengodidae, which have 11 pairs of green-shining bioluminescent organs on their thorax and abdomen. Because of their resemblance to a glowing train running through the night landscape, these larvae are called ‘railroad worms’ in English,” Kundrata said. According to him, it is possible that there are similar bioluminescent beetle larvae of the Cydistinae group living in the Middle East. “However, since no one has discovered them yet, it is only our speculation that needs to be confirmed, preferably in the field,” said the scientist with regard to the future direction of the research.
Another surprising finding of the research team is the description of the second genus within Cydistinae, which was given the name Microcydistus. The only known species of this lineage is characterised by its small body and reduced oral system. “Despite the uncertainties surrounding Cydistinae’s family relationships, the latest research suggests that this group still has much to offer in the future, as far as its diversity, biogeography, and the evolution of bioluminescence are concerned,” Kundrata added.
Three years of work by legal experts from five European universities has been conducted under the auspices of the “European Union and the Challenges of Modern Society” project. The project has succeeded in the worldwide competition for a prestigious grant awarded by the European Commission in the Jean Monnet Networks category, where it received one of the highest evaluations. This is the first time the grant has been awarded in this category to applicants from Central and Eastern Europe. The work of the international team will be coordinated and managed by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in European Law at the Palacký University Faculty of Law, headed by Naděžda Šišková.
Experts have from September 2019 to the end of August 2022 to meet the objectives of the project called “European Union and the Challenges of Modern Society: Legal issues of digitalization, robotization, cyber security and prevention of hybrid threats”. “This is an area that will affect every citizen’s life in the future; however, it is currently hardly ever legally regulated and if so, only to a minimal extent. The objectives of the project are not only research-related. As an international team of experts, we want to influence future European legislation and be engaged in shaping and creating new legal rules related to current technological developments. The results will therefore not only be academic, but we will also send recommendations to European institutions,” said Šišková.
The international team will consist of academics from five European universities – the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in Olomouc at UP, the University of Heidelberg, Tallinn University of Technology, Comenius University in Bratislava, and the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev. “I am glad that we have managed to bring together a top-quality international team. We have worked with most of these universities before, and we have already accomplished several successful projects with some of them. The selection of partners was also influenced by their expertise,” explained Šišková.
Šišková also explained that, for example, their Estonian colleagues will focus on the digital economy, Slovaks on data protection, Ukrainians on combating hybrid threats, Germans on the respect for the rule of law in relation to modern technologies, and Olomouc academics will deal with the legal aspects of robotization, consumer rights protection, and the specifics of competition law rooted in the digital economy. “This division is very general, because of course various workplaces will be allowed to contribute to individual areas,” said the main coordinator.
In the next three years, the project investigators will hold a series of lectures, round tables, workshops, and academic and student conferences. The speakers will include the representatives of EU institutions, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the EU Court of Justice. Their joint research will then culminate in the publication of two monographs and articles in impact journals. In addition, a special blog will be established, in which students will participate.
The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence has been operating at the UP Faculty of Law for over three years; one of its successful projects was Reform of the Union and Related Issues. The original team of academics, led by Naděžda Šišková, consisting of Ondrej Hamuľák, Blanka Vítová, and Michal Petr, has now been joined by Ondřej Filipec.
Dear Colleagues and Students,
It’s time to wish farewell to a year in which our society commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. It was an opportunity to not only take stock of all the good which came out of building our democratic country, but it was also the right time to deservedly thank those who often made personal sacrifices for the freedom we regained.
I’m pleased that we at Palacký University could also express this gratitude. And even if this year is ending, one in which more than ever people were voicing concerns about “freedom”, “democracy”, and “the state of law”, certainly our attempt at maintaining these very fundamental values cannot end.
Dear colleagues, I would like to thank you all for all the good work you have done for our alma mater this year. I value your efforts, and would like to wish you a lovely Christmas and a successful 2020.
There is no single digital market in the European Union, and Czech customers are discriminated in their access to some online services. The European Commission has failed to ensure that the new legal reform guarantees the free movement of services, including online streaming. Thus, Czech consumers cannot purchase and use the service offered to customers in another member country. The impact of the Digital Single Market Strategy on the Czech audio-visual industry is being studied by scientists from Palacký University Olomouc and Masaryk University in Brno (MUNI).
In the several-year project supported by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, researchers deal with the impact of European legislation on Czech consumers, authors, directors, producers, and distributors. “We are also interested in which problems have not been solved by the European Commission’s legal reform despite its original intention, and what the likely consequences will be in the future," said Pavel Zahrádka from the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts. A multidisciplinary team of sociologists, film industry analysts, and legal experts from UP and MUNI is, among other things, involved in mapping the disputes between copyright holders with online content sharing platforms such as Uloz.to. The team also deals with what attitudes Czech consumers have regarding the use of illegally distributed Internet content as well as the conditions under which domestic customers would be willing to pay, for example, for selected films or TV series.
Discrimination toward customers, fears of film producers and distributors
According to the experts, the fundamental principle of the European Union, i.e. the free movement of services, is denied in the digital market. “Although the Czech consumer is now allowed to use a pre-paid audio-visual online service abroad even during their temporary stays such as on holiday, which was previously not possible due to geo-blocking, they can no longer subscribe to a streaming service intended for citizens in another member country. This means they are discriminated on the basis of the place where they connect to the Internet,” points out the Olomouc scientist. Certain films or series are thus unavailable for domestic viewers, even if they wanted to pay for their viewing. According to the research team, these restrictions have specific commercial reasons. “The main reason is that the producer obtains the necessary funding to make a film by selling or having booked the exclusive rights for the film’s distribution in an EU member state to a future distributor. However, many films do not have foreign distribution and their local distributors are not interested in buying licenses for foreign distribution because they operate exclusively on a local national market,” explains Zahrádka.
According to the research results, Czech film producers and distributors are afraid of creating a digital single market, which would make the purchase of foreign films, serials, or sports broadcasts more expensive and which would jeopardise international co-productions especially for producers from two countries with the same or a similar official language as in the case of Czechia and Slovakia, where distribution is not synchronised. “There could be a situation when a Slovak viewer watches a film via the offer of a Czech distributor on the Internet before the film is broadcast by a Slovak distributor, which would result in lost profit from the perspective of the Slovak distributor/investor,” Zahrádka said, in giving an example.
Restrictions are not a solution
The researchers also describe the current state of exploitation of illegally distributed content on the Internet. One of the outcomes of their work is mapping disputes between copyright holders and platforms such as Uloz.to. “We are proposing ways of providing copyright holders with fair compensation for losses caused by illegal distribution of their films through these platforms. Our conclusion is that restrictions and draconian sanctions are not good for a creative economy; on the other hand, we argue that if someone profits from a film distribution, it should be the ones who own the copyright,” says Radim Polčák from the Institute of Law and Technology at MUNI. The purpose of the proposed procedure for calculating an adequate compensation is to closely assess the compensation of actually lost profit on the part of the distribution channel.
According to researchers, there are several reasons why Czechs do not pay or do not want to pay for movies or TV series on the Internet. One of them is that it is difficult to understand what is actually legal and what is beyond the law. “However, they are able to distinguish official quality content providers from fake distributors. At the same time, we know that Czech viewers tend to download and stream from unofficial sources when they simply cannot get to what they want to watch via official channels. And this applies even to situations when this or that film or series is available, for example, on Netflix, but it lacks Czech subtitles or dubbing,” says Jakub Macek from the Department of Media Studies and Journalism at MUNI.
Increased awareness, rules, and changes in the law should help
According to the research team, the Czech market would benefit firstly from greater legal awareness as to what is allowed and what is already illegal, and secondly from clearly defined rules. “What would also be helpful is a higher quality of care from the content providers themselves. However, it needs to be said that currently the approach of providers to Czech content viewers is visibly improving, although we’ll have to wait for more evident consequences,” Macek expects.
UP and MUNI researchers however warn that the tension between consumers’ demand for open access to films offered by foreign streaming services and the existing business models of the audio-visual industry will escalate. “The linguistic and cultural boundaries in a globalising world increasingly in motion do not correspond to national borders. The solution of the tension may be either in legislative changes or a change in the existing business models. Our project also deals with possible legal solutions to this persistent problem,” the research team concludes. So far, they have published five research reports for the state administration (the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic and the Czech Film Fund), which are making use of them to evaluate the impact of regulation.
RCPTM may help with water treatment in Colombia in the future. The centre’s representatives have agreed with their partners at Universidad Central, Bogotá, Colombia, on a joint project aimed to research and develop nanomaterials-based technologies for treating waters contaminated with heavy metals.
The idea of active collaboration began to form about a year ago during a visit of the Vice-Rector of Universidad Central, Óscar L. Herrery Sandoval, in Olomouc. “While taking a tour of RCPTM’s laboratories, he became very interested in water remediation technologies using iron nanoparticles. Water contamination is a critical issue in Colombia. With respect to a fast-growing leather industry, the country faces the problem of its watercourses becoming contaminated with hexavalent chromium; illegal gold mining, in turn, leads to contamination of the environment with toxic mercury,” said Jan Filip, head of the RCPTM’s Environmental Nanotechnologies Group.
RCPTM research in this area was presented by Jan Filip and Eleni Petala at a specialist conference last October, which was organized by Universidad Central.
“Our presentation was mainly focused on the properties of iron nanoparticles and their potential for water remediation. We have also agreed on further collaboration as part of a project that our colleagues in Colombia are preparing. The collaboration is likely to involve, among other things, exchanges of experts, consultations and cooperation with students. We may provide our expertise, test our nanoparticles in the target environment or, perhaps, develop new materials tailored to the environmental problems there. Our Colombian partners have expressed a keen interest in the collaboration, and it’s clear that it could produce tangible outcomes benefitting Colombia in general,” added Filip, who visited, with his colleague, other Colombian universities and made valuable contacts with different scientists.
The leather industry is central for Colombia’s economy. However, wastewater with high organic content, suspended solids, phenols or chromium is released by factories, often small family-run businesses, into the Bogotá River without a proper remediation process. The water treatment systems developed so far are effective yet expensive, or generate large amounts of sludge which is difficult to process. Experts are therefore pinning their hopes on the combination of several strategies.
The presentation of selected study programmes at Palacký University was part of a government mission of the Czech Minister of the Environment and a delegation of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic. The mission was also attended by representatives of Palacký University Olomouc who came home having made interesting contacts in Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. They also explored the possibilities of linking the results of science and research at UP with local partners there.
Palacký University, represented by Jiří Lach, Vice-Rector for Organisation and Development, and Ondřej Pokorný, Head of the Indonesian Studies for Tourism programme at the UP Faculty of Arts, took part in a week-long government mission led by Czech Minister of Environment Richard Brabec and a delegation of the Czech Confederation of Industry to Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Its primary purpose was to establish contacts with local state and private bodies involved in environmental protection and sustainable development in agriculture, urbanisation, and social sciences. During the meetings, conducted at the level of ministries and local governments, they also discussed the support for the implementation of scientific knowledge into practice.
“In Malaysia, we focussed primarily on negotiations with the representatives of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and the representatives of the government organisation MIDA granting foreign scholarships to Malaysian students. In recent years, this programme has seen significant reduction in the number of scholarships in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which was also noticed by our Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, where dozens of Malaysian students have been studying until recently. In the negotiations, I emphasised that the academic erudition and enthusiasm of these students, along with their smooth integration into the local environment, have always been beneficial for us and that we want to see them at our university in the years to come,” said UP Vice-Rector Lach.
During the series of talks in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, the Malaysian party presented the concept of its environmental development and the examples of close cooperation between the university and the private sector. Ondřej Pokorný, Head of the Indonesian Studies for Tourism programme from the Department of Asian Studies, stated that Malaysia is very interested in scientific knowledge concerning sustainable development and is ready to participate with third parties in their research and implementation. “Palacký University can offer top workplaces in the departments of geoinformatics, development and environmental studies, natural sciences, and more, and it is true that there has been a great deal of interest in our presentation of these fields in Malaysia as well as in the quality of our research centres related to these disciplines,” Pokorný said.
The Palacký University delegation also informed local interested persons about other Olomouc study programmes, namely those accredited in English, mainly from the Faculties of Medicine and Law. “Especially in Kota Kinabalu, they were very interested in our offer. It resulted in negotiations with the Minister of Tourism on their support of research stays of Palacký University students in this part of Malaysia and also in signing a draft agreement on cooperation with Malaysian University of Sabah,” said Pokorný. Malaysia is one of the most stable countries in Southeast Asia, has a well-functioning education system, and is open to cooperation at all levels of scientific and educational knowledge.
Palacký University was also introduced by UP representatives in Singapore and Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where they had two more meetings. The first one was a follow-up to the UP visit to the National University of Singapore in March and it took place at the Department of South-East Asian Studies. The second one was held in Johor Bahru at Asian Metropolitan University, which specialises in medicine and health sciences, including nursing, and is rated among the best in Malaysia. Thanks to the proximity of Johor Bahru and Singapore, UP academics enjoyed a free afternoon and discussed possible forms of cooperation with the representatives of the local medical faculty. They concluded their mission in Vietnam, where they also introduced the study programmes of Palacký University, closely related to the purpose of the government mission.
Palacký University Olomouc has been awarded the National Prize of the Czech Republic for Social Responsibility. The award was granted in the category of large and medium-sized public sector organisations. The prize was accepted by Rector Jaroslav Miller and Vice-Rector Hana Marešová at a gala evening at Prague Castle, where the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic and the Quality Council of the Czech Republic announced the winners of the 2019 Czech National Quality Prizes.
“These national awards offer the opportunity to compare the best organisations and learn from their best practices," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček. UP was awarded for social responsibility and won first place in the public sector category together with Technical University of Ostrava.
“This achievement represents the success of the entire university, but the team of Vice-Rector Marešová deserves the greatest credit for it. I would like to thank her and all my other colleagues,” said Rector Jaroslav Miller after receiving the award.
Palacký University enrolled in the programme to find out how it stands in the competition with other schools in fulfilling the third role of the university – working for the benefit of society, both in the city and in the region. Recently, UP was particularly and most importantly involved in local and regional action plans for education; volunteer activities such as Civic University, in which students and academics offer their knowledge via lectures to the public; the Euforka project, which seeks to mediate relevant information about Europe; and the student association Sustainable Palacký, which promotes environmentally friendly behaviour. “We perceive the university as a community that systematically helps its members even in the public space. This is possible through the involvement of experts, the work of many volunteers and student organizations, and thanks to the extraordinary supportive environment that is still being expanded and modernised,” added Vice-Rector for External Relations Petr Bilík.
The university wanted to get an outside view on its activities. “We wanted to conduct an external evaluation of Palacký University and, in addition to comparing it with other schools, to get information on key trends in social responsibility and sustainable development in our country," said Marešová, Vice-Rector for Strategic Planning and Quality.
In practice, the evaluation of the school included both its self-evaluation report according to the conditions of the awarding authority and inspections by representatives from the ministry who verified everything on the spot in Olomouc.
It has resulted in the first place in the Czech National Prize for Social Responsibility, which UP shares with the Technical University of Ostrava. In addition, the victory includes being granted the internationally recognised Committed to Sustainability Award for three years and the inclusion of UP in the database of the European Foundation for Quality Management.
“We were positively rated as a very active institution with an awareness of active regional cooperation, social responsibility and sustainable development,” added Marešová. Apart from international prestige, the feedback from evaluators is also very important for the university, as they recommended, among other things, to develop a comprehensive vision and a strategy for the third role of the university. “We will work on this in the next period, as well as on the selection of criteria according to which the university’s activities in the third role will be evaluated and taken into account when evaluating UP staff. The obtained information and suggestions of areas for improvement will then be used in the development of a strategy in the third role of UP for the next period. In the coming months, we will have a university-wide debate on the preparation of a new strategic document –UP Long-Term Goals for 2020+,” added Vice-Rector Marešová.
Palacký University Olomouc has occupied the 519th position in the recently issued US News – Best Global Universities Rankings. Compared to the previous year, it has fallen by 30 places; however, 1,500 universities have been ranked in the international ranking, which is 250 more than last year. In domestic competition, UP ranked third behind Charles University and Czech Technical University. In addition, Olomouc’s university has been listed for the first time in the field of social sciences.
“Palacký University has maintained its third position among domestic universities and is in the global competition almost reaching the threshold of the first 500 universities, despite the growing number of schools included in the rankings. According to several indicators, we are improving in certain aspects,” said UP Rector Jaroslav Miller. The ranking listed 12 Czech and Moravian universities; since the previous year, the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen and the University of Pardubice have been added.
The rankings employ data from the Clarivate Analytics InCites database, formerly Thomson Reuters. The evaluation is carried out according to 13 indicators, which monitor the performance of universities, especially in science, research, and international cooperation. It also includes surveying the reputation of universities in the international context. Palacký University scored best in the Regional Research Reputation indicator, ranking 147th in the world. Within the past few months, UP has moved up nine places in this indicator.
“The year-on-year comparison of individual parameters showed that UP has reserves in focusing on more systematic steps in some of its activities, such as greater efforts to register international conferences held at UP at the Conference Proceedings Citation Index on the Web of Science; and the strategy of publishing monographs should be reconsidered, since we have noticed a decrease in their numbers, etc.,” said Hana Marešová, Vice-Rector for Strategic Planning and Quality.
In the ranking according by discipline, not only natural but also social sciences are listed. “In addition to the traditionally successful disciplines in Natural Sciences, I consider our position in the field of Social Sciences and Public Health to be a significant success, ranking 391st. We have achieved this result for the first time, the only one among Czech universities. We would like to thank our employees for this success,” added Vice-Rector Marešová.
UP has also placed for the first time in Clinical Medicine, ranking 675th. It has shown year-on-year improvements in Biology and Biochemistry and has jumped 15 places in Physics (278th in the world).
Harvard University, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, have maintained their traditional places at the forefront of the global rankings. The overall results are available here.
Three Palacký University Olomouc scientists appear in this year’s list of the world’s most cited scientists, Highly Cited Researchers, published annually by Clarivate Analytics in the United States. Analytical chemist and phytochemist Ondřej Novák and chemists Rajender Varma and Radek Zbořil have repeatedly reached the top 1% of the world’s most cited scientists. They share the list with a total of 14 scientists with membership in one of Czech research institutions or universities.
As in the previous year, Radek Zbořil, an expert in nanotechnology working at the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCTPM), appeared in the list in the Cross-field category. In recent years, he has been involved in the discovery of the thinnest known insulator, non-metallic magnets, the first two-dimensional carboxylic acid, and the effect of nanosilver on bacteria.
“This is really an appreciation of the work of all the staff at RCPTM who conduct multi-disciplinary research with large potential in applications. Thanks to that, Palacký University has ranked among the top institutes in the Czech Republic in multidisciplinary material sciences and nanotechnologies, according to the citation index normalised to the relevant scientific category (CNCI index according to the Web of Science database). In physical chemistry, UP has even had better results in recent years than the universities of Cambridge and Oxford,” Zbořil said.
Rajender Varma, who also works for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is employed in the same science centre. “It is a great honour for me to be on this prestigious list of scientists. I also represent RCPTM and Palacký University, where I collaborate with exceptional scientists. The quality of science centres is primarily based on the personalities who work there and who are given the space and support to develop their talent,” Varma said.
Ondřej Novák, an expert in plant hormone analysis, works in the Olomouc workplace of the Institute of Experimental Botany at the Czech Academy of Sciences, which is part of the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research. “I accept with great humbleness the fact that I am among the group of highly cited scientists for the second time. I would like to thank all my colleagues from the Laboratory of Growth Regulators and other colleagues from abroad, without whose cooperation I could not be part of this prestigious ranking,” said Novák, who is included in the category Plant and Animal Science.
The list of Highly Cited Researchers 2019 includes over 6,000 researchers (including 23 Nobel laureates) from 60 countries. These are scientists whose work has won recognition in 21 research areas or combinations and has been cited to a considerable extent. The list is based on the analysis of publications from 2008 to 2018 according to the Web of Science database. Czech science is further represented in the list by cardiologist Petr Widimský; ecologists Petr Pyšek, Jan Pergl, and the late Vojtěch Jarošík; chemist Martin Pumera; microbiologist Petr Baldrian; and botanist Roman Pavela. Four foreign scientists working at various institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences are also included on the list. In addition, the list includes plant biologist Jiří Friml, who works in Austria.
The United States has the largest representation (2737), followed by China (636) and the United Kingdom (516). In Central Europe, Germany has 327 representatives, Slovakia one and Poland seven.
Complete results are available here.
Located in Eastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is a small country (33,851 km2) with a population of nearly 3.5 million. Moldova also receives the largest amount of development aid in Europe. A group of Palacký University students went to several Moldovan cities and villages to see what the future has in store for people in Moldova. Here are few stories from Tohatin, Balti and Chisinau.
This summer, a group of Palacký University students from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies had the opportunity to travel to Moldova. Their goal was to see what types of development cooperation projects were working in Moldova, and to have first-hand experience discussing the challenges, issues and needs with governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private companies which are providing development assistance in Moldova.
When Moldovans feel free to leave
One of the first impressionable visits was to the European Delegation to Moldova. Ambassador Peter Michalko took time out of his busy day to talk to us about the current turbulent political situation (anti-government strikes in the streets of Chisinau) and the goals the EU delegation has in Moldova. The Ambassador explained that development in Moldova is not only about social and economic development. It is also about people’s quality of life, and the limits imposed on one’s life.
We heard an interesting saying: “If you don’t have justice, do not feel free and equal, then you feel free to leave” – which explains the high rate of Moldovan citizens living outside of Moldova in order to make a better life for themselves. The future of Moldova depends on sustainable development, but right now the state of Moldova is still going in circles, falling backwards, in stagnation.
The state is not serving its citizens, it is not efficient, and corruption is still prominent. The EU would like to see Moldova prosper, its citizens make a stable living and become more like the EU. According to the EU delegation, one of the biggest problems the Moldovan government has is the implementation of laws and the rule of law.
Loneliness: A big problem in Moldova
One example of Czech NGOs working in Moldova is Caritas Czechia, with its focus on developing social projects. One of their successful development cooperation projects has been in home care. This service is provided to elderly and disabled people who lack such care. According to the employees of Caritas, loneliness is a big problem in Moldova. Funding provided by a Czech development agency to start Caritas’s home care service facilities in Chisinau and in Balti provides rehabilitation, bathing assistance, laundry facilities, and a way for lonely people to connect to other human beings.
The facilities (visited by Palacký University students as a part of their field trip to Moldova) were staffed by warm and friendly providers who truly love making a difference in these people's lives.
After the project is funded and running for a limited time (two years or so) the project will be handed over to the Moldovan government. The big question is whether the government will fund it, and if so, for how long? The employees from one of the centres which is now funded by the Moldovan government said they could no longer offer coffee, tea or snacks to their clients due to the lack of funds given to them by the government. With an uncertain future, the home care facilities are doing their best, serving their patients with kindness, love, and a passion for caring.
Sustainable development starts with building trust
One common theme that kept popping up as Palacký students were visiting local people, local initiatives, and projects, was that Moldova is lacking good management, and sustainable development starts with building trust. According to environmental consultant Andrei Isac, “Only about 7% of people in Moldova trust the government, whereas 30% trust NGOs. Moldovan people rely on themselves and don't trust others.” A sad reality.
The village of Tohatin was in desperate need for a new roof for the local school. The village council applied for €150,000 in aid. The money came with a catch: according to the terms of aid the village received for the project they had to participate in funding the new roof at the municipal level and also on the community level. The village council came up with €15,000 from the village budget. The difficult part was getting the €1,500 from the community to get the funding for the roof. The city council went door-to-door asking for donations, as little as one euro. They were basically begging people to donate in order to get a new school roof. Once they finally had all the money the school roof was built.
Transparency between the community and local government
Today the village of Tohatin is proud of the school and the fact that they helped contribute to make a difference in their community. The local councilman who showed our group this roof excitedly told us: “Everyone in the village shows visitors the roof and they have pride that they contributed to it.” This project has helped build trust in the community and has shown the citizens that the local government wants to be responsible and take care of the community, but it takes everyone to work together. The work within the village is something between community development and community organizing.
The next time the village receives a grant with stipulations that the citizens have to contribute to the project they will be more willing, because they have seen the results with the school roof project.
These little steps are needed to build trust and transparency between the community and the local government. Perhaps this example will spread to the next village, and then on to the next, bringing more trust and confidence to the people of Moldova. By witnessing positive social change and taking action on it.
Let’s hope that with small steps of success the people of Moldova will begin to see real change for the better. From the passion the home care employees pass on to their ageing clients in Balti or Chisinau to the new roof on the school in Tohatin village, may these examples serve as a beacon of hope for a brighter future for Moldova. Palacký University students have already seen the light some of them have brought in practice.
Note: The article and the entire field trip are part of the DevEd project ‘Development Cooperation First Hand’, supported by the Czech Development Agency (ČRA).
New cutting-edge devices and laboratories that open the door to conducting the most demanding experiments in optical, material, nanotechnological, biochemical, and biophysical research are available to students and scientists at the Palacký University Faculty of Science. Thanks to funding from the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education (OP RDE) in the total amount of €6,250,000, more than fifty scientific devices have been purchased and four physical laboratories have been completely modernised.
The new research infrastructure will primarily serve doctoral students. “The modern laboratories we have built are taking us forward in the field of instrumentation. It will allow us to keep in touch with the world leaders and to carry out experiments that have not been physically possible in our country. It is a strategic project of our faculty, focused on the support and development of doctoral studies,” said Jaromír Fiurášek, Head of the Department of Optics and main investigator of the OP RDE project “Modernising research infrastructures for the needs of doctoral study in physics, chemistry, and biochemistry at the UP Faculty of Science”, from which the investment was financed. Until recently, scientists and students of the Department of Optics were able to carry out some of the most demanding experiments only in cooperation with foreign partners who had the necessary devices in their laboratories. “We should now be able to conduct such experiments in our laboratories ourselves. I am convinced that this is particularly important for the future generations of our young scientists, postgraduates, and students,” he said.
Four laboratories have been modernised – three optical laboratories and one under the Department of Experimental Physics. The laboratories have a dedicated ventilation system, air conditioning, cooling, and distribution of technical gases. “After reconstruction, the three optical laboratories have excellent parameters regarding microclimate and indoor cleanliness that are comparable to the world’s leading scientific workplaces. It provides us with brand new ideal conditions for the realisation of the most demanding experiments, for example in quantum optics, optical quantum technologies, quantum interaction between radiation and matter, or Raman spectroscopy, all of which require extreme stability and purity of the environment,” said Fiurášek. After reconstruction and modernisation, the Laboratory of Applied Physics enables students and researchers to significantly expand research in experiments focussing on applied physics, nanotechnology, Mössbauer spectroscopy or material characterisation.
For example, high-efficiency superconducting single-photon detectors and powerful titanium-sapphire lasers in both pulsed and continuous regimes have been installed in optical laboratories. In particular, the Department of Experimental Physics acquired a cryomagnetic system for Mössbauer spectroscopy, a device for physisorption and chemisorption, and an X-ray diffractometer. The project also acquired a number of devices for other faculty workplaces. For example, the Department of Physical Chemistry has a new nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscope, several different types of spectrometers, and a differential scanning calorimeter designed to study the composition, properties, and interactions of nanomaterials. The Department of Biochemistry was equipped with an advanced UPLC-MS system for the analysis of low molecular weight substances and peptides, and a hybrid cell-imaging multi-mode reader for characterisation of cell parameters. The Department of Biophysics has installed a specialised microcalorimeter, camera, darkroom and other equipment for the study of photosynthesis and biomolecular interactions.
Thanks to the support from the European Union, the conditions for experimental and scientific education of doctoral students have been created at a level fully comparable with the world’s leading universities. The purchase price of new devices amounted to hundreds of thousands of euros. For example, a powerful pulsed femtosecond titanium-sapphire laser Coherent Mira HP Dual cost €345,000, and a Single Quantum high-efficiency superconducting nanowire single-photon detector system cost €225,000. “These devices will be used, for example, for the preparation of complex quantum states of light, for the realisation of quantum-information schemes combining wave and particle properties of light, and for the development and testing of new quantum protocols for secure long-distance information transfer,” Fiurášek concluded.
Czech children are active. According to a study conducted by researchers at Palacký University Olomouc, 86 percent of schoolchildren aged 11–15 are involved in organised activities. In other words, only one in seven children has no regular leisure activity. However, a significant proportion of the child population spends four or more hours a day on computers, televisions, and smartphones, thus facing increased health risks.
Recently published data from the study for HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) shows that most Czech young people aged 11–15 years spend their leisure time actively. They are involved in team and individual sports and in activities in arts clubs or youth organisations. Among the boys, team sports prevail (58 percent), while among girls it is artistic activity (60 percent). “We have found that children who spend their leisure time in an organised way show higher satisfaction with their lives and are more successful at school. In addition, there are smaller numbers of regular smokers and those with repeated drunkenness among them,” says the research team leader, Michal Kalman.
With family, actively
The research also focussed on the ways how leisure time is spent in families. One of the favourite activities in this case is sport. Almost 40 percent of adolescents do sports with their parents at least once a week. “In the long run, this is very good news, because it was only 30 percent 16 years ago. The family environment is essential for an active lifestyle,” says Petr Baďura from the UP Faculty of Physical Culture. He adds that the number of families who go for regular walks together has also increased. Active leisure is, according to him, more typical in better-off families. That includes sports as well as visits to restaurants or the cinema, regular walks, and time spent chatting.
Non-organised activities without a predetermined structure, deadline or regularity also play an important role in young people’s lives. These include reading, playing board and card games, visiting the cinema, spending “down” time with family at home or with peers in the park or housing estate, or just doing nothing.
Less than one third of Czech children read at least once a week, with girls heavily outnumbering boys (41 percent vs. 24 percent). Only about one fifth of children meet with their friends every day in the streets or in the park. By contrast, children often prefer to go to shopping centres. Three out of ten teenagers go there for entertainment or distraction several times a week; this involves more often children from poorer families.
Interestingly, the lack of activity – simple lying on the couch or in bed – also has its place among leisure time “activities”. This is how up to 40 percent of children spend time several times a week. “We should not see this only negatively. Some studies suggest that occasional boredom increases creativity and imagination, especially in younger children,” argues Baďura.
Risky four hours daily in front of a screen
A significant consumer of time are electronic devices. On weekdays, 19 percent of boys and 15 percent of girls spend four hours or more watching TV and videos; and one third of boys and 27 percent of girls on weekends. In addition, almost every fourth boy (23 percent) versus 9 percent of girls spend four or more hours on weekdays playing electronic games. Girls, on the other hand, are more often visiting social networks and browsing the internet. Note that the younger generation is able to combine several such activities simultaneously.
“Excessive time spent on the computer screen, television, or smartphone poses a significant risk to children, not only in terms of overweight and obesity; it also negatively affects sleep quality and is associated with the occurrence of depression,” concludes Srđan Matić, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Czech Republic. The HBSC study has been conducted under the auspices of WHO internationally for many years; the study’s conclusions serve to develop strategic documents, policies, and practical recommendations.
The HBSC study is one of the largest data sources on children’s and adolescent lifestyles in the world. The current research in the Czech Republic involved 230 schools and 13,000 children. The team from the UP Faculty of Physical Culture has been long monitoring and commenting on factors influencing the health of Czech schoolchildren aged 11, 13, and 15 years.
Selected data including infographics can be viewed on the website www.zdravagenerace.cz.
Thanks to the financial support of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TA CR) provided within the GAMA2 programme, in 2020–2022 Palacký University can make use of up to €600,000 in support to finalize scientific findings for practical use. The UP Science and Technology Park (VTP UP) has started accepting applications for Proof-of-Concept sub-projects.
The projects are designed for researchers who want to get their ideas on the market while doing what they enjoy and what fulfils them. Applications will continue to be accepted until the funds, which amount to €200,00 for each year, become depleted.
The TA CR GAMA2 programme aims to support the verification of the results of applied research and to prepare their subsequent commercial use. “Do you need to build a prototype device or a software tool to showcase your project to potential customers or verify the qualities of the result so that it can be patented effectively? Do you wish to transform your research output into applicable practice? Then the Proof-of-Concept projects are here for you,” said Petr Kubečka, Head of the Technology Transfer Office.
Proof-of-Concept projects have proven to be a very effective tool for successful commercialisation in the past. “This year we have successfully completed the last seven sub-projects from the previous call of the GAMA programme, which was implemented in 2014–2019,” Kubečka said. “A total of 28 sub-projects were supported in this university-wide project, and 52 valuable results were achieved. Some of them have already been applied in practice, others are being negotiated with commercial partners and investors. In the new call, the VTP UP team will cooperate even more closely with all the investigators in order to implement the results quickly and efficiently,” he added.
In order to have their projects launched by 1 January 2020, project applications must be sent to VTP UP no later than 11 November 2019 and subsequently approved by the Commercialisation Board. All documents necessary for filing the application can be found on the VTP UP website, in the section “For download”. The budget of the projects can be used for material costs, travel, services, and salaries of the investigators. Applicants can apply for the project even after November 11, 2019, but projects approved by the Board will not be launched until the second quarter of 2020. More information is available here.
Palacký University Olomouc’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is the first in the Czech Republic to pass the demanding external evaluation to receive accreditation from the Association of Medical Schools in Europe (AMSE), which confirms the high quality and European standards of medical studies in Olomouc.
UP FMD, together with five other medical schools in Europe, was subjected to the detailed evaluation of its General Medicine study programme as part of a pilot project launched by the association. AMSE accreditation guarantees the quality of education provided for medical applicants as well as hospitals and healthcare facilities as their future employers.
“This is an important success for us. The fact that our medical faculty has become the first in the Czech Republic and one of the first in Europe to receive the European certification is mainly due to the efforts by previous faculty management and to the long-term cultivation of the General Medicine curriculum during the era of my predecessors,” said Dean Josef Zadražil, who has been in charge of the faculty since June.
According to Dean Emeritus Milan Kolář, this is a confirmation that the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry is a recognised educational and scientific research institution. “Among other things, this accreditation means that our diploma will be one of the most recognised and highly sought-after in the European Union, and many European hospitals will give preference to medical graduates with this. At the same time, it is necessary to realise that it is also a commitment to further development, i.e. maintaining this seal of European quality,” added Kolář, current Vice-Dean for External Relations, who feels that the entire academic community of the faculty deserves respect for their conscientious and outstanding work.
The Olomouc faculty underwent the demanding evaluation during the past two years. In addition to the assessment of documentation on the faculty and its study programme, this spring there was also a several-day inspection by the evaluation committee made up of German experts. The evaluators appreciated, among other things, the modern facilities used for education, the comprehensiveness of the curriculum and the continuity of individual subjects, the functional evaluation of the teachers, and the above-standard collaboration of the faculty with University Hospital Olomouc.
The conclusion of the evaluation also mentions some negatives and further recommendations, for example in the area of practical training, greater involvement of students in research projects, and further in-service training and teacher development.
The UP Faculty of Medicine has received the AMSE accreditation for one year. Once the before-mentioned objections have been resolved, the accreditation will be extended until 2024.
Eight interesting routes for runners and pedestrians starting in the vicinity of the Faculty of Science, thematically named after scientific fields and Olomouc attractions, can be found in a new map app authored by Martin Gabryš, a graduate of the Faculty of Science, and students of Geoinformatics and Cartography Jakub Koníček and Radek Barvíř. The application is designed for students, employees, and the general public.
“Last year I started working on the Cyclo-Routes project, in which I create circuit routes primarily for cycling, in the form of printed maps, map apps, and websites. It occurred to me that I could do something similar at the faculty, so I applied for the Cherish Your Nature competition. I wrote a project, and made a print map, app, and website in which the faculty eventually showed interest,” said Martin Gabryš.
The aim of the project was to create routes for pedestrians and runners that both start and end at a common point at the Faculty of Science. Routes are 2.5 to 12 km long. In the menu are found thematically focused topics sorted by the fields of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Ecology, Earth Sciences, Fort Science, and Science Centres, as well as Olomouc “bonuses”, which include parks, monuments and squares.
“Together with Radek Barvíř, with whom we organise weekly runs from the Department of Geoinformatics, we devised thematically focused routes, which, according to our running experience, are the best in Olomouc. After digitizing and creating a description of each route, I worked out a graphic design of the project in the form of a poster while Martin Gabryš fine-tuned the map application,” added Jakub Koníček.
The application can be used either on a computer or smartphone. Routes are not marked in the terrain, therefore it is advisable to print your own map or use GPS. “Matyáš Černohous from the Department of Computer Science helped me with the application fine-tuning, for which I express my gratitude,” added Gabryš. Under the auspices of the project, a print map was created for the entrance of the Faculty of Science. More information is available (in Czech) at https://www.mapujme.cz/prfupol/.
Preparing experts in the field of development policy and practice is the aim of the two-year Master’s programme International Development Studies – GLODEP, which is implemented in cooperation with other foreign universities. Thirty foreign students – one out of the three groups in the programme – will be studying Development Studies and Policy at the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, UP Faculty of Science, this semester.
“Thirty students have enrolled this semester, for example from El Salvador, Mexico, Kenya, Egypt, France, Italy, Ireland, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Most of them are already in Olomouc, but some are still waiting for their visas,” explained Simona Šafaříková from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies.
These students from 27 countries are given knowledge and skills to analyse the socio-economic and environmental problems of developing countries and to support development policies at national, regional, and international levels.
“I come from Mexico City, which is a place full of conflicts. I wondered how I could help my city stabilise and raise itself economically. So I was looking for a multidisciplinary field in which both economics and development studies will be represented. I got to Olomouc to the GLODEP programme, which was a priority for me, also thanks to the scholarship offered by the programme. The facilities for students have very high standards, the university and the city are very well connected. I like it at the Faculty of Science, there is an order to things, and it works. The teachers are very well prepared for their classes, they analyse development issues from various perspectives and listen to their students’ opinions,” said José Jerónimo Olvera León.
Muhammad Ali Anwer from Pakistan has similar motivation as José. “The main reason I applied for the programme is because I wanted to learn about the latest trends in the area of development, because we face big challenges in Pakistan in terms of our society’s development. I want to learn how others are looking at it, to get different views from all over the world so that I can return home and find the best way to develop our country.”
The GLODEP Master’s programme offers students the opportunity to study at three European universities: Palacký University Olomouc, the University of Clermont Auvergne, France, and the University of Pavia, Italy. It is a two-year Master’s programme in which students gradually study one semester at each university. The first group of students successfully completed their studies by passing the final state examination and defending their theses in June 2019 (watch the video from the ceremony); the second group is currently staying at the University of Pavia. The final fourth semester is dedicated to thesis writing, and students can also enrol in internships with academic as well as non-academic partners of the consortium (www.glodep.eu, FB page).