Did you know that Slovakia and the Czech Republic are two probably most closest countries in the world? They have similar languages (so Slovak students can study in the Czech Republic in Slovak), shared the same history (1st and 2nd republic of Czechoslovakia) and split peacefully in 1993. Czechs use to call Slovaks their smaller brothers, as Czech Republic has a double population and teritory. The main rivarly is nowadays in hockey and football games
We will take a look at the rivalry among Czech universities and Slovak universities – their rankings, visas process, recognition of education from abroad and so on. The article will be on full-time studies (so not Erasmus studies which are study exchanges just for a couple of months)
Studying in central Europe
Studying in central Europe (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland or Hungary – called also Schengen zone) can be interesting alternative for those students, who would like to study in English but do not have tens of thousands dollars to study at prestigious university in United Kingdom, USA, Australia or New Zealand. Compared to English speaking countries, tuition fees in central Europe are 10x lower (3000-4000€ for the most of programs – the most expensive is General medicine and Dentistry with price of 10000-15000€ per one year).
Another aspect are living costs – while rental contract in UK can reach 500-700 pounds per room in London, you can take dorm room for 100-200€ in central Europe. Total living cost might be 250-300€ per month in Slovakia, Czech Republic or Poland. Prices could be higher in capitals of countries (Bratislava, Prague, Warsaw and Budapest), which is compensated by more options for part time jobs.
If a foreigner is staying over 3 months in central Europe, the residence permit (or long-term visas) is needed. They do refer to the same thing: every foreigner need to be registered at foreign police and right to live and study need to be awarded. We will now compared the process in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Application for long-term visas for Czech Republic (equivalent institute to a residence permit in Slovakia) could be problematic for multiple reasons. First of all, the process may take up to 60 days and the permit is not awarded for the full length of studies automatically. Instead, students need to go to foreign police every year with an application for renewal of long-term residence. It is also not possible to ask for short-term visas and convert them to long term visas in the Czech Republic.
One of the documents, which are needed to submit to Czech Embassy, is final acceptance letter. This letter is issed by the university only once so called nostrification (we will speak about it in next step) is finished. Nostrification could be problematic especially for bachelor students, where subjects and marks from secondary school are compared with marks and subjects in Czech Republic.
The benefit of applying for Czech Republic is, that necessary documents are valid for 180 days since day of issue. That can provide longer timespan for application for long term residance.
Now lets take a look on application for residence permit in Slovakia. The procedure is needed to be done only once for whole Bachelor studies and once for Master studies. There is no need for multiple visits of foreign police. Another benefit for students is that it is possible to apply for short term visas (so called national D type visas). Student will obtain national visas at embassy within 30 days and come to Slovakia. Afterwards, they can convert their short term visas to residence permit in Slovakia for studies.
Application for residence permit or short term visas is easier compared to Czech Republic, but it has also its problems. Firstly, only documents issued in the last 90 days are accepted for submission. In addition to police clearance certificate from home country it is also mandatory to get police clearance certificate from any country where you spend over 90 days in the last 3 years (during 6 months frame). This can be problematic for students who do studied for Bachelors in different country and would like to study masters in Slovakia.
Recognition of completed studies from abroad (nostrification)
Recognition of completed studies from abroad is a process that need to be done before start of studies at University. It is administrative process, where subjects and marks from your home school (secondary school or bachelor level) is compared with subjects and marks in Czech Republic or Slovakia.
There are not big differences between recognition of completed courses from Bachelor level of studies in Slovakia and Czech Republic. Bachelor transcript of records and bachelor diploma need to be translated by sworn translator to local language and submitted to the University. Documents are then evaluated by competent university. they will compare subjects completed at University abroad and their institution and decide to recognise or reject. The main important rules for recognition are: Bachelor level taking at least 3 years, similar subjects and necessary knowledge for MAster studies. There are also fees for recognition (nostrification), which are comparable in both Slovakia and Czech Republic (80-100€)
Nostrification in the Czech Republic
The main difference is in the recognition of secondary level of education. The process in Czech Republic can be different now, so we suggest to check with the authorities to get the last update. As per situation in 2020, the recognition of secondary school in Czech Republic was complicated: county bureau need to compare subjects and marks during the whole secondary school. The process may take up to 60 days. As foreigners do not have any residence in the Czech Republic before studying, there could be also problems in finding out the correct office responsible for the process.
If student is coming from Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, the recognition of authomatic without any futher inspection. For other countries, problems may occur. You can contact your future university in Czech republic for more detailed information.
Nostrification in Slovakia
Nostrification in Slovakia is easier. The process may take maximum 30 days (if there is international treaty with Slovakia, it is even faster). Slovakia has currently international treaties with the following countries about recognition of academic documents: Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, China, Russia, Croatia, Ukraine, Hungary and Croatia.
If the country is not from the list above, the county bureao has more time to process papers. If correct papers are provided, the nostrification will be awarded in reasonable time. Students need to submit the following documents: copy of passport, translated secondary school diploma, translated marks from secondary school and conditional acceptance letter from their future university. From our experience, nostrification was awarded in all cases when correct documents have been submitted.
Tuition fees in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are comparable. If some foreigner is studying in Slovakia or Czech Republic in the local language, the studies are free of charge. Studies in the English language are possible for the most of programs: from aeronautics, to mechanical engineering up to medicine or pharmacy (some programs are available even in German, French or Hungarian).
The cheapest programs in Slovakia cost only 1500€ (for managerial programs), most of the other programs cost 2500-4000€ per one year (bachelor studies take 3 years, master studies take 2 years). The most expensive are programs like pharmacy (7500€ per year), general medicine or dental medicine (up to 11.000€ per year).
As per portal studyin.cz, aggregator of all study programs in Czech republic, the tuition fees range from 0€ to 23000€. The most expensive are medical programs. Tuition fees for economics or IT programs are usually 2500-4000€ per one year. Again, bachelor is 3 years and master 2 years.
Cost of living
The cost of living depends on the living style. Students have advantages of various discounts and offer of dormitories. Dormitories prices for international students are approximately 80-130€ per one month, while private apartment (shared apartments) may cost around 150-180€ per month. Food expenses could be around 150-200€, canteen food is discounted for students. The monthly pass for students is around 10-12€ per month. Services, such as hairdressers or gym will be more expensive in big cities like Bratislava or Kosice. With budget of 500€, one will not have any problem to survive anywhere in Slovakia.
Cost of living in the Czech Republic will be comparable. Budget of 350€ is considered as minimum, with budget of 600-700€ it is possible to cover all expenses comfortably (single appartment, food, travel, free time activities etc). Budget for living in bigger cities like Prague, Brno or Pilsen could be more expensive.