The Czech Republic has seen, since it was made possible by the 1998 Higher Education Institutions Act, an expansion of the sector of professional higher education institutions, which also overlaps, to a large extent, with the sector of private higher education institutions. Currently there are 39 professional higher education institutions (37 private, 2 public institutions). Most of these institutions have struggled to form a distinct profile, and by a large majority they operate in the field of education towards business studies, marketing and general services. Many of the institutions are on a drift, or attempt to drift towards the traditional academic sector, aspiring to become universities in some cases, including the case of one of the two public professional higher education institutions.
The College of Logistics is a private higher education institution that has existed since 2004. Over the course of its existence the institution has deliberately and steadily selected a clear profile, avoiding to extend activities beyond that profile even at the time of the peak of demand for higher education.
The institution operates degree programmes at EQF 6 and 7 in logistics, with a comprehensive focus on transport logistics, travel and hospitality logistics, and logistics of services. Professionally specialized EQF 6 degrees are followed on by an option of an EQF 7 degree with more managerial focus.
The institution has managed to set up an impressive network of collaborations with the world of work, which is also linked regionally with important transport industry that traditionally exists in the area of Přerov, which is the location of the institution and a strong traditional transport hub namely for railways.
The quite unique feature about this institution is also its ability to collaborate with traditional university sector. That includes research collaborations, but namely participation in the provision of doctoral degree programmes in transport field by universities in Prague and Žilina (Slovakia).
Thus, the institution has managed to establish itself across all the levels of higher education while remaining a focused professionally oriented institution; and that is quite singular in the Czech higher education system.
What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?
In the Czech national context, mainly private institutions specialized by focus on providing professional higher education. The overlapping segments of private and professional higher education institutions often face prejudices across the overall higher education community as well as, sometimes, within general public. A success story of an institution of this category, growing while keeping untarnished reputation, can instigate shift of mindset.
What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?
The enabling factor in the case of the College of Logistics was a match between institutional profile and traditional industry in the place of the institution's location. Well-thought strategic alliances, both with relevant industry and with traditional universities, supported the development of the institutions on becoming a strong player in the field.
What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?
Being a professional ("non-university" as designated by Czech law) higher education institution, the College of Logistics operates under restrictions from offering a full scale of degrees across EQF 5-8 levels. EQF 5 level qualifications, which possibly might be attractive in the field, are not legally available in the Czech Republic. EQF 8 level qualifications are reserved to universities (the College, therefore, had to undertake arrangements to enable itself to participate in doctoral training in cooperation with relevant universities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia).
Feasibility & Sustainability
What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?
The sustainability of the College of Logistics model can possibly be undermined by implementation of new higher education law (Nr 137/2016) that foresees renewal, under new national guidelines enforced by a new quality assurance body, of all accreditations awarded to higher education institutions. The scope and content of new quality assurance guidelines, yet not fully known, may force a change upon the strategy of the College.
Replicability & Upscaling
What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?
The case of the College of Logistics presents a useful example that, as far as higher education institutions other than comprehensive universities are concerned, being deeply rooted in the needs of the world of work as prevalent in the region bears fruit, if accompanied with a strategy to intensify, not amplify, operations of the institution.
What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?
The case of the College of Logistics demonstrates that a professional higher education institution can establish itself as a strong player in the sector while keeping and developing a clear profile through clever strategy composed of a focused own action combined with a deliberate network of strategic collaborations involving both traditional university sector and the world of work.