We have had a month that, for most of us, has been a wild rhythm of the Hour of Truth, a campaign drawing attention to the undignified salary conditions under which many staff in the humanities and some social science faculties work. Thanks to the actions of academics and media coverage, it was incredibly successful in drawing attention to the fact that Czech higher education as a whole is significantly underfunded compared to other OECD countries. This matter needs to be addressed by the Ministry of Education and the government. Without an increase in the proportion of expenditure on higher education relative to GDP, Czech university education will continue to be dire. The political representation and the representation of universities know this and, let us hope, will deal with the situation appropriately.
However, what about financial matters if we move from higher education in general to the level of faculties? There have been various figures in the media. However, we cannot safely comment on these unless we know the calculations used to arrive at them. We should therefore confine ourselves to the area we know intimately.
The tariff salaries of all employees are the same across the university. Following an agreement with the trade union, they were increased by 10 % last year and will be increased by 5 % this year and next (the contract with the trade union was made when no one knew how high inflation was ahead). Strangely enough, the fact that the same tariffs apply to staff in all university faculties does not spread everywhere in the Czech Republic. Moreover, our alma mater has long strived to ensure that the budget methodology considers the specifics of both groups of faculties (SSH faculties - social sciences and humanities - and STM faculties - natural sciences, engineering and medicine). This methodology is then used to allocate money to the individual faculties. The sad fact for the Faculty of Arts is that the average salaries of academic staff in our country are at the lower end of the scale, although not quite at the bottom.
How is this possible? Are we worse than our colleagues in other SSH faculties at the university? A resounding "no" is the correct answer. Our faculty achieves many excellent research and teaching results, and we are unique in many ways. We've just gotten a bit lost in looking at where the university is headed and have stayed too long and stubbornly on our once-established course. However, it is now holding us back and needs to be corrected. In this regard, I firmly believe that we must first recognize that our performance is worse than other comparable faculties on some key parameters and then attempt to reset the faculty's budget criteria.
However, neither the ministry, the government, nor the university representation can help us with this. It is in our hands alone. After a busy April, we have some even more busy months ahead of us, when we will hold debates in various forums: in the Dean's Economic committee, with the heads of departments and, of course, in the Senate. The interest of all of us must be to arrive at a budget allocation methodology that will move the faculty further towards the university. In this way, we will, in time, achieve an increase in the proportion that the faculty receives from the university budget and more dignified average salaries for our faculty.
Irena Radová, Petr Dytrt, Zdeňka Jastrzembská, Tomáš Knoz, Lubomír Spurný, Zuzana Šalamounová and Josef Šaur