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With the global expansion of COVID-19 came the expectation of a negative impact that the pandemic is likely to have on the number of international students at Czech higher education institutions. However, the latest data from the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for 2020 showed that the total number of students with non-Czech citizenship enrolled in degree programmes increased by 8.1%.
The total number of international students in the Czech Republic had risen from 46,351 students in 2019 to 50,121 students in the last year (figures from December 31st, 2020). Currently, there are nearly 300,000 students enrolled in degree programmes at Czech public, state, and private higher education institutions, out of which the international students make up almost 17 %. When we take a look at the list of top ten source countries, the number of students from Russia, India, and Iran increased by more than 20%, while Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus recorded more than 10% growth. At some Czech universities, the number of international students enrolled in foreign language programmes had increased by up to 30%.
Some university representatives assume that the possibility of distance enrolment and move to online classes may have contributed to the growth in the number of international students. Thanks to this fact, students who had to deal with, for example, delays in the visa process due to COVID-19 measures and restrictions, were also able to begin their studies.
On the other hand, universities have reported a drop in the amount of short-term exchange students, especially due to difficult travel opportunities. Compared to 15,813 students who came to the Czech Republic for a short-term study stay in 2019, there were only 9,740 in 2020 (a 38% decrease). Similarly, the number of students traveling from the Czech Republic abroad for short-term study stays dropped by 35%.