Autonomie vysokých škol a jejich financování v českých zemích v letech 1848–1939

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Title in English The autonomy of higher education institutions and their financing in the Czech lands in 1848–1939


Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Český časopis historický
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords autonomy of higher education institutions; state-financing; 19th and 20th centuries; Czech lands
Description The practical implementation of the “Humboldtian” model of higher education, relying on autonomous decision-making and the concord of research and teaching, took place in the Czech lands in the period between the reform of Leo Thun (1849–1851) and the closure of the higher education institutions by the Nazis in 1939. Higher education institutions were given a specific form of autonomy, which distinguished them from other autonomous unions in the public sphere, in particular in that the higher education institutions did not possess their own property and were therefore fully dependent on the supply of state funding. Economic dependence on the state strongly influenced the idea of the representations of the higher education institutions of their own social role and identity – on the one hand, schools respected their role as a state institute, while on the other hand they tried to act as self-governing corporations in some areas. In the text, the differences are analysed that distinguished the Prague university with an ancient tradition and awareness of the former possession of its own property from other universities in the Czech lands and furthermore universities as a whole from technical higher education institutions. It was precisely at universities, especially their faculties of humanities, that the widely understood concept of autonomy was gradually adopted and spread from there to other areas of the higher education sector and society as a whole. In this respect, university autonomy was a pioneer of social pluralism and transformation in the view of the state from a hierarchical authoritarian concept to a liberal-democratic concept. Simultaneously with the peak of higher education autonomy between 1890 and 1930, the crisis symptoms of this method of administration increased. The text follows in particular the problems associated with the inefficient use of state-provided funds and property. The malfunctioning of the “Humboldtian” system of autonomy in the 1930s led the state to interventions in the decision-making of higher education institutions in economic matters and later the reduction of the autonomy of higher education institutions as a whole and search for an alternative, post-liberal method of managing this socially very important sector of first-rate education and science.
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