Charles University was founded in 1348, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. Yet it is also renowned as a modern, dynamic, cosmopolitan and prestigious institution of higher education. It is the largest and most renowned Czech university, and is also the best-rated Czech university according to international rankings. There are currently 17 faculties at the University (14 in Prague, 2 in Hradec Králové and 1 in Plzeň), plus 3 institutes, 6 other centres of teaching, research, development and other creative activities, a centre providing information services, 5 facilities serving the whole University, and the Rectorate - which is the executive management body for the whole University.
The key priority of Charles University is to continue to enhance its prestigious status as a research university. To achieve this aim, the University focuses strongly on research activities. Charles University can boast a number of outstanding research teams which are involved in close collaboration with international research institutions. Students can also become involved in the University’s research work at each of the individual faculties. The University is the best-performing research institution in the Czech Republic; this is reflected in the analyses of research output carried out by the Czech Research, Development and Innovation Council. Having amassed almost half a million points for its research activities (according to the current national research assessment methods), Charles University is far ahead of the institution occupying second place.
For many years Charles University has been keen to incorporate the results of its research and development work into its teaching, and to ensure the greatest possible involvement of research staff and students in Czech and international projects. The success of the University’s research policy is reflected in rankings based on research achievement, which demonstrate that the University can compete strongly with many prestigious institutions outside the Czech Republic. Charles University staff have participated in a range of major international research projects – including the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) programme. The University’s world-class research teams include (to name but one) the internationally renowned Czech Institute of Egyptology.
The creativity of the University’s staff and students is reflected in a huge range of research and applied projects, as well as in valuable works of art and a wealth of publications. The University has more than 7,900 employees; of this number, almost 4,500 are academic and research staff.
Charles University has over 53,000 students - roughly a sixth of all students in the Czech Republic – enrolled in more than 300 accredited degree programmes that offer over 642 different courses. More than 20,000 students are studying in Bachelor’s degree programmes, almost 25,000 in Master’s programmes, and 8,000 in PhD programmes. The University has over 7,000 students from other countries. Every year, just under 9,000 students complete their studies; Charles University graduates enjoy one of the highest employment rates of any population segment in the Czech Republic. Every year a diverse range of lifelong learning courses are attended by more than 16,000 participants.
Charles University collaborates with a broad spectrum of renowned universities from all over the world, and one of its priorities is to enable every one of its students interested in studying abroad to spend some time in another country. International cooperation has significantly strengthened the University’s international profile; these international links have also supported the University’s efforts to achieve high standards of excellence in joint international research projects, its participation in many prestigious international organizations and university networks, and its active support for international student and academic staff mobility.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2011–2012 ranked Charles University in 305th place among its five hundred ranked universities, making it the only Czech university to feature in the top five hundred.
The Academic Ranking of World Universities - the “Shanghai League”, which every year compares more than 1,000 of the world’s best universities (selected from a total of over 17,000 institutions), has repeatedly included Charles University in the third hundred, i.e. among the 2 per cent top universities in the world and one of the 100 best universities in Europe.