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Rector Martin Bareš appointed president of the Association of Research Universities

As of 1 August the Association of Research Universities (AVUni) has a new president. Masaryk University Rector Martin Bareš replaced the current rector of the Czech Technical University in Prague Vojtěch Petráček.

Rector of Czech Technical University in Prague, Vojtěch Petráček, hands over the position of AVUni president to MU rector Martin Bareš.

Founded in 2019, the Association of Research Universities now consists of six institutions spanning all areas of the tertiary education in social studies and sciences, humanities, life sciences and technical fields. Apart from Masaryk University its members include Charles University, Palacký University in Olomouc, the Czech Technical University in Prague, the University of Chemistry and Technology and Brno University of Technology.

“There are approximately sixty colleges and universities in the Czech Republic, but more than one-half of all students attend these six schools. AVUni is the backbone of tertiary education, science and research in the Czech Republic, as well as a strong opinion platform with ambitions to coordinate its steps and potential to allow Czech universities to match in quality the best foreign counterparts,” Martin Bareš said shortly after his appointment as the head of an association which, according to the current edition of the QS World University Rankings, includes the best six universities in the Czech Republic.

The priorities of AVUni include emphasis on quality in education, excellence in science, stronger scientific infrastructure, sharing of experience and support for the transfer of research results, combined with the protection of intellectual property and establishing start-up and spin-off companies. As Bareš added, these are the prerequisites for the success of Czech universities vis-à-vis their international competition. “I believe we do have something to offer, as our date clearly shows. Our members have received all ERC grants which between 2017 and 2021 went to Czech public universities, and we are also holders of the majority of all other prestigious foreign grants, such as MSCA, Teaming. Seventy percent of all doctoral programme students in the Czech Republic are at AVUni members, as are most foreign students. They are working on most WoS indexed publications. Thanks to this level of performance, quality and know-how we would like to take part in the setting of principles and rules in university policies, such as shared criteria of the habilitation procedure, as well as funding of research infrastructures and more,” said Bareš who, in the last two years, was president of the Czech Rectors’ Conference.

“AVUni also aims to foster partnerships with central state administration authorities and other public institutions in creating and forming national policies in areas pertaining to universities and research but also areas where the members of the association can deal with social issues, using the broad spectrum of world-class fields. Using our experience and knowledge we can play a key role in the strategic direction of the society as a whole. Being the president of AVUni is a great commitment, not least because by efforts will be built on those of Rector Vojtěch Petráček, which are greatly appreciated,” Bareš concluded.

CTU Rector Vojtěch Petráček has completed his two-year term during which AVUni got a new member – Brno University of Technology; it also succeeded with grants, such as those within the framework of EXPRO and Junior Star at the end of 2022. “We have to repeat our call on the Czech Science Foundation, the Council for Research, Development and Innovation and especially the Czech government to ensure sufficient financial support of these irreplaceable schemes, as they represent key added value for fundamental research,” Petráček stated in 2022. 

In addition to teaching, research and development or negotiations with government representatives, AVUni during Petráček’s term was an organisation providing valuable experience and support to other Czech universities. AVUni members have also cooperated with state or municipal institutions and business entities. 

“Our achievements in the area of teaching and research prove that the foundation of the association four years ago was a good decision which benefited universities and the Czech Republic. Wishing Martin Bareš all the best in further development of AVUni and I am looking forward to our cooperation,” Petráček said in conclusion of his term.