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Proper communication is key to success

At the start of the current academic year, Jana Fialová became the vice-rector for student affairs and external relations. She had previously served as the vice-dean for student affairs at the Faculty of Medicine since 2018.

Vice-rector for Student Affairs and External Relations Jana Fialová

ln an interview for M Magazine, Vice-Rector Fialová expressed her wish that the public would notice Masaryk University’s significant contribution to improving life not only in Brno, but also in the entire region. She would like to be given the opportunity to contribute to this through quality communication and appropriate marketing support.

Rector Martin Bareš said at the opening of the academic year that the University is primarily concerned with students – future, present, and past. That is, applicants, students, and graduates. In fact, they form a large part of your responsibilities as vice-rector. So logically, you probably have a lot of work to do. Is that how you see it?

I agree; it's a big issue. In addition, I'm in charge of communications and external relations. But I'm not alone. There are a number of colleagues at the Rector's Office working on all these issues. My task is to coordinate their work, to harmonize it with the aims and objectives of the University. And also to ensure that we provide the necessary help and support to the faculties. My goal is that together we will create an environment that will support, attract, and motivate all learners.

You have experience as vice-dean for student affairs and external relations at the Faculty of Medicine. Do you plan to take any of the activities you led at the faculty to the university level?

Faculty experience is very important to me. I consider it an advantage that I was able to spend five years at the faculty level working on similar issues that I am now responsible for. I think we have been able to move things forward at the medical school. I am delighted that the students appreciated the friendly yet challenging and fair approach. I also gained great inspiration there in working with faculty associations, which are very lively at the Faculty of Medicine. I consider good communication to be absolutely essential to my agenda. It takes time, but it pays off. Proper and trusted communication with students, applicants, and alumni, and across the university, is the key to being successful.

What do you feel is the most pressing issue you are responsible for that the University needs to address immediately?

First and foremost, we need to say that we are studying and working in a quality and well-functioning university. Masaryk University has a tradition, modern facilities, well-adjusted processes, and above all a lively academic community. That is why we are able to deal with problems and challenges. There are many recent examples. We have dealt with Covid, all the effects of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and now we can certainly handle the consequences of the terrorist attacks on Israel. The University is going through all this with honour. And I’m proud that we can help students, whether they are from the Czech Republic or abroad, in difficult situations as effectively as possible. But I believe that the crises will soon be over, and we will be able to focus systematically on how to improve facilities for students, develop counselling, or, better still, reach out to the best quality applicants. Our common goal is an increasingly successful University internationally, and this includes a high internal culture in the academic environment.

I must also ask about the issue of accommodation and catering services. Do you think students perceive the canteens and dormitories positively? Are they satisfied?

That is a question that we should ask them first of all. And that's what we are doing. With the help of the Students’ Chamber of the Academic Senate, we are now finding out how students and staff view the canteen services. It's a matter that I'm going to focus on a lot. In the case of the halls of residence, the situation is already a little different. The University invests large sums in their ongoing maintenance and renovation. Recently, the Vinařská dormitory has been renovated, the Mánesova dormitory has been newly renovated, and now we are starting major repairs on the Kounicova dormitory, while in the meantime, repairs and the addition or modernization of equipment in all other dormitories are ongoing. We are looking for ways to effectively meet the current high demand for accommodation. We are considering the possibility of further expanding accommodation capacities through new construction and cooperation with external partners.

We have to respond to the fact that demand and requirements change over time. The University also does not have unlimited financial resources. Therefore, we need to choose a sensible strategy. There were years when the demand for halls of residence was very weak, but now the opposite is the case. We try to take into account demographic trends as well as housing prices and other factors that affect demand. At the same time, we have to think about cost-effectiveness and sustainability. Our main objective in all this remains to create the best possible conditions for our students in terms of room and board.

How would you like the public to perceive Masaryk University?

It is simple. I would like the public to perceive our University as it really is. That is, as modern, but with a long tradition, welcoming and friendly, but successful and competitive. As a university that offers an education that prepares people well for life and for success on the job market. As an institution that makes Brno a university city, as a school that young people want to study at, as a university that its graduates are proud of. As a good place to study, work, and live.

You told me a few days ago, with a smile on your face, that work is your favourite thing. Is that really true? Do you have any hobbies?

Yes, I really enjoy working at the University. I appreciate the opportunity to work at the University. I appreciate the opportunities to meet many wonderful people I wouldn't have met otherwise. My free time and relaxation, that’s connected with my family and friends, some of whom also work at the University. So, you can see how it's all connected. But don't make it look like I'm a workaholic. I have many interests. I like nature and our garden, where I can really relax. I love culture, especially classical music. And when I have the chance, I like to travel, especially to see cultural sights or interesting architecture.