EEA Grant – Human Capital Development

Project Number: EHP-CZ-MOP-3-001

 

Main Goals

The aim of the project is to strengthen the cooperation and partnership between Mendel University in Brno and University in Iceland, esp. in terms of inclusive education, equal treatment and respect to human rights.

This project will help both partner universities in fulfilling their aims regarding diversity, accessibility, equal opportunities for both students as well as teachers.
Both partners, the project promoter: Mendel University in Brno, in part. Faculty of Business and Economics, and the project partner: the University of Iceland, in part. Faculty of Social Work, School of Social Sciences) agreed in cooperating in following project goals and activities:
  • to share knowledge and good practice in the field of inclusive education, equal treatment and respect to human rights
  • to share experience with PhD students in intellectual, research, and communication skills, digital and intergenerational competences necessary for their future professional career
  • to develop further cooperation between both institutions, especially with regard to preparation of future projects and/or publications.

Project Partners:

Mendel University in Brno

Mendel University in Brno (MENDELU) is the oldest independent specialized university in the Czech Republic. It was established as the University of Agriculture in Brno in 1919. MENDELU is one of the Czech leading educational institutions in the sphere of life sciences. The university consists of five faculties – Faculty of Business and Economics, Faculty of AgriSciences, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Faculty of Horticulture, and Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies. It offers a wide range of study programmes in English in both traditional and modern fields of study. MENDELU provides study programmes in economics, informatics, international studies, agriculture, forestry and wood processing or horticulture. Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) at Mendel University in Brno was established in 1959 and is the oldest business school in Moravia. It has accreditation for all degree levels Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. In recent accreditation the school received the highest rating (ranking in group A) as a one of th best schools from a total of 21 business schools in the Czech Republic. FBE is a modern and constantly developing school, which follows trends in education and research. It offers both economic and IT study programs at all three levels of university education in Czech and in English. There are nearly 4,000 applicants on average each year. In 2011-2015 FBE was evaluated as the best business school in Moravia and the 3rd best business school in the Czech Republic. Both in the rankings by Hospodářské noviny, and in the competition “Faculty of the Year”, elected by the students themselves, the FBE ranked 1st place in Moravia in the section of business schools. The research focus of the faculty can be grouped into three basic areas:

  • Socio-economic problems of modern society in the context of regional and national economic policies.
  • Harmonization and coordination of tax systems in the EU.
  • ICT and methods for monitoring and assessment of environmental changes as a tool for the promotion of bio-economic innovation and process control.
Currently, emphasis is put on the interdisciplinary nature of research; therefore, several research
teams linking the various faculty departments’ focus were established. In addition to the process of
education, scientific research is an integral part of activities at the Faculty. In 2007, the Research
Centre was established with aim to support the process of scientific research and the publishing

activities of all academicians and researchers of the faculty.

University of Iceland

The University of Iceland, founded in 1911, is a progressive educational and scientific institution, renowned in the global scientific community for its research. It is a state university, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. A modern, diversified, and rapidly developing institution, the University of Iceland offers opportunities for study and research. The University comprises 5 schools and 26 faculties offering over four hundred different study programmes. The University offers undergraduate and graduate programmes in all major academic disciplines, including doctoral degrees in most fields of study. Each school is governed by a dean as well as a board comprised of the faculty heads. The schools are: School of Social Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, School of Humanities, and School of Natural Sciences and Engineering. The School of Social Sciences is the largest school at the University of Iceland and offers a multitude of academic programmes in the field of social sciences. The number of students at the School is now around 4,660 students. Topics within the social sciences are dealt with in an imaginative and critical way and active student involvement is required. The Faculties are six: Faculty of Social Work, Faculty of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Political Science and Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology and Folkloristics. The Faculty of Social Work is the only university in Iceland offering education in this field. Along with Social Work the Faculty offers an interdisciplinarey programme in Gerontology, partly in English.

The University has been ranked amongst the 300 best universities (top 2%) since 2011 according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. According to general surveys, the University of Iceland is one of the most trusted institutions in Iceland.

Key Participants:

MENDELU – doc. PhDr. Martina Rašticová, Ph.D.

Martina Rašticová, Ph.D. (key staff at MENDELU) is an associate professor at Mendel University in Brno, currently serving a vice-dean for internationalisation and leading the Department of Law and Humanity Sciences, she has been working on gender, ageing, and cross-cultural research projects and publishing since 1998. She is the author of the monograph Czech Woman between Profession and Family (2011), editor of the monographs Diversity is Reality (2011), Age management (2013), To work or to be retired? (2018). Her agenda will primarily focus on development of the skills and competences of students involved in the project which will increase their employability on the labour market, she esp. focuses on intergenerational competences and intercultural communication skills. Martina Rašticová as a coordinator is responsible for expert part of the project.

University of Iceland – Sigurveig H. Sigurdardottir

Sigurveig H. Sigurðardóttir, is a Professor in Gerontology at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Iceland. She is the coordinator of the Nordic Master’s programme in Gerontology (NordMaG), which is a cooperation between four Nordic Universities in offering a joint degree in Gerontology. Prior to this, she served as the Head of the Faculty of Social Work.  She also worked as a social worker at the Geriatric department of the University Hospital where she promoted health and well-being of older persons for several years. She also worked as a director of the Red Cross-Reykjavik division before joining the University of Iceland in 2003. Her main research field is care of older people, both formal and informal care. Part of her academic background is family relations and support between generations. 

Professor Sigurveig has been involved in different Nordic and European networks for research on older adults, such as interdisciplinary research projects on social inequalities and ageism and has published several articles and book chapters.  She is delighted to join the EEA project where she will be involved in establishing research cooperation between Mendel University and University of Iceland through student and teachers exchange, and by supporting and tutoring visiting students.

Photos:

EEG Fonds

Filip Vrána

The trip to Iceland was rewarding in many ways. I had the opportunity to get to know a completely different culture and background at the University of Iceland. It was very inspiring for me to meet a colleague who leads the PR department of a local university that is doing things that are still ahead. They make films with scientists about their work. Iceland is in many ways an inspiring and extraordinary country that has changed a lot in the last 20 years. Its natural uniqueness is indisputable.

Martin Lakomý

We have held several meetings on the topic of human resource management, both in the university environment and in society as a whole. I also presented my current research on the situation of older workers in the context of digitalization in the labour market, which sparked a lively debate based on a comparison between the Czech and Icelandic context. The university and all Icelandic colleagues gave a very friendly impression and were keen on further cooperation – for example, within the COST Action project just acquired by Mendel University, during Prof. Kristjánsdóttir’s expected teaching stay at Mendel University next semester and Sirrý Sigurlaugardóttir’s (personal) presentation at our PEFnet conference, as well as during the preparation of joint publications. Overall, Iceland is a country with wild nature, nice open people and an approach to diversity and social issues that we can take a lot of inspiration from.

Drahomíra Zajíčková

Mobility took place within 1 month, during which I was gradually introduced to the organizational structure and operation of the University. My work was mainly within the Faculty of Social Work, under the guidance of Prof. Sigurveig H Sigurðardóttir. An integral part of the internship, in addition to independent work, was networking and shadowing of faculty staff and doctoral students, in my case specifically doctoral student Mrs. Sirrý Sif Sigurlaugardóttir, who, based on our cooperation, came to Mendel University for a one-week internship and will also be one of the participants at the conference PEFNet 2022. I also had the opportunity to visit the workplace of the Skagafjordur office, where she is engaged in practical social work. Based on the mentioned contacts, further cooperation is also expected, both on a project (COST Action project) and on a personal level, and represents a gateway for other students interested in studying at the University of Iceland.

Knowledge and articles from projects that were created as part of my research supported by the IGA Mendel University were actively presented here, as well as knowledge from the GAČR project under the leadership of Mgr. Martin Lakomý.

The University of Iceland was founded in 1911, it is a state University, study is free for students. The university offers almost 400 programs for study and research. The current number of students is approximately 12,400. A significant specialization of the University is primarily a focus on environmental factors, volcanology, renewable resources. A significant inspiration for the Czech Republic is also the area of work/life balance, gender pay gap and diversity as fields of study, but also how it is applied in the running of the University. The university, among other things, provides 3 childcare facilities (from 6 months of age) for employees and students with children, including financial support for students. It is therefore possible to travel to Iceland and study successfully with your family.

The scope of the University of Iceland is therefore very broad (from social to natural sciences) and represents a significant opportunity for profiling in these fields. Contacts for master's and doctoral students, who can provide interested parties with specific information about the fields of study, are available on request from Ing. Drahomíra Zajíčková (drahomira.zajickova@mendelu.cz), as well as academics with whom it is possible to connect to a project or other form of cooperation.

Běla Mikulášková

Iceland, land of ice, volcanoes and aurora borealis. Iceland is a country with several differences compared to the Czech Republic. The weather is colder and harsher as in the summer for the locals the temperatures are already 16 degrees and above the tropics and during the summer months you cannot experience darkness at night. On the contrary, during the winter there is supposedly only 4 hours of light a day, so the local residents do not like the winter season at all and spend it either taking antidepressants through the gloom of winter, or going away for a month or two to warmer parts of the world.

In my opinion, these two countries cannot be compared at all for several reasons, because, for example, the education system in Iceland is set up completely differently than here. In Iceland, young people can afford to start a family while studying at the University. The reason is, on the one hand, the possibility of applying for a student loan, which they only start repaying at a later age as part of the obtained job, and, on the other hand, the fact that the school offers students the possibility of using accommodation for families with children right on the school premises. In addition, students can send their children to kindergarten from the age of 1 or even immediately after six months to a crèche, where a babysitter looks after the child while the student parents attend a lecture, etc. So students do not have a shortage of where they will live, how expensive it must be pay rent etc.

As for the people of Iceland and their local culture, it is a nation with roots in the old Viking tribes, elves and trolls (as some of their traditions and national legends show). Icelanders are all the same in appearance – blue eyes, blond hair, tall and thin. They are very friendly and welcoming, smiling and very easygoing. What I noticed during my stay in Iceland is that they are very into coffee of all kinds, ideally roasted beans, and all alcohol and tobacco products are regulated by the government in Iceland. However, this is introduced due to the fact that a healthy lifestyle is preferred in Iceland, so it is not possible to find, for example, Mc`Donalds, etc.

What did I take from Iceland and what did it give me? I definitely had the opportunity to get to know a completely different culture and character of people living in a different climate and recognizing a completely different attitude to life (healthy lifestyle non-stop everywhere and respect for nature). In addition to culture and education, I had the opportunity to learn how the healthcare system works in Iceland, how it differs from our Czech healthcare system, as well as, for example, within the framework of the political system, the economic point of view, etc.

During my stay, I also had the opportunity to travel outside the capital (Reykjavík) more to the Mediterranean or to the south coast of Iceland and thus also get to know the beauty of Icelandic nature. I saw, for example, a gushing active geyser, the crater of an already old volcano, glaciers, a considerable number of waterfalls, the stormy coast of Iceland in the South together with volcanic rocks and much more. In addition to nature, however, I had the chance to meet new faces – for example, we met Professor Sigurveig (social studies) herself, and not just one, who is a wonderful and kind person. But also with a worker in social services (Sirrý) and a few people studying at the University of Iceland or just working in a kindergarten and coming from the Czech Republic.

For me, the month spent in Iceland was wonderful, beautifully spent time, which gave me a lot of new and interesting things both in life and in my future studies and research activities within the topic of my dissertation. It was a great experience and I hope to visit Iceland again sometime.

Sirrý Sif Sigurlaugardóttir

I had the pleasure of visiting Mendel University in June 2022. I was there on a staff exchange from The Faculty of Social Work at The University of Iceland where I am an adjunkt. I got a very warm welcome at the Department of Law and Social Sciences. I got the opportunity to present my ongoing PhD research and our work at UI. There was lively discussion and exchange of ideas about future collaboration between the two schools. I look forward to come back to the international week in November.

Media

In Iceland, people retire satisfied

Iceland is not only a country of volcanoes and glaciers. The country is inspiring in many ways, such as employment policy. Young people are not afraid to have children while they study university. The total fertility rate has been around two children per woman for a long time, which is exceptional in Europe and this number is not significantly increased by migrants, such as in France. Older people, on the other hand, retire satisfied and without existential worries. According to the research by Icelandic scientists, local people are even happier with growing age, which is not similar to older people in the Czech Republic.

According to the MENDELU scientists, who were on an internship in this Nordic country, there are many differences between the Icelandic approach and the rest of Europe. “Iceland’s employment rate is around 90 percent for men between the ages of 55 and 59, and about 80 percent for women, which is the highest number among European countries. In the Czech Republic the number is fewer, but in Slovakia, for example, less than 70 percent of women go to work in this age group. The worst situation is in Greece, where the employment of women in this category is less than 40 percent,” says Martin Lakomý from Department of Law and Social Sciences, FBE. His scientific topic is digitization in the labour market, specifically the challenges, opportunities and inequalities to older employees.

Běla Mikulášková, a doctoral student from Economics and Management (FBE), had a one-month internship in Iceland, and her topic is retirement. According to her, the situation in the Czech Republic and Iceland is totally impossible to compare. “People in Iceland have only six working hours, so they have more time for their hobbies, sports and especially their families. It is also interesting that both partners can go to maternity leave there and they can both have shorter working hours. They have enough time to raise their children together. The state also has a well-thought policy and support of citizens who would like to study, and at the same time start their family, so they are not afraid of parenthood during university studies,” said Mikulášková.

According to her, Icelandic policy is generally different. It enables young people to study while they have their family. People work until old age and in old age they are secured and their children are also secured. “They are not as stressed as Czech retired people. Overall, the society’s set-up and mentality is completely different,” says the young scientist. The Icelandic internship has been her first experience during her studies at MENDELU. “I like travelling, but it has been the first time at university, I would definitely recommend it to my colleagues,” said Mikulášková.

The internship will help her in her doctoral thesis, which topic is the influence of selected factors determining the living standards of people in the post-productive age. “Thanks to the experience from Iceland, I will formulate various recommendations to ensure that older people in the Czech Republic are not as stressed as in the past,” said Mikulášková, added by her colleague Drahomíra Zajíčková from the Department of Law and Social Sciences FBE MENDELU, who deals with the impact of parenthood on labour market outcomes and the gender pay differences. The Nordic countries are inspiring in this area. “In our country, women’s salaries are about a fifth lower than men’s,” Zajíčková points out.

According to Professor Sigurveig H Sigurðardóttir of the University of Iceland, the labour market situation in Iceland is stable after the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had unemployment for some time and now we are looking for employees. We are more concerned about the psychological effects of the pandemic, especially on parents with children,” she mentioned.

What are the inequalities in the European labour market? In Iceland, people retire satisfied

Iceland is not only a country of volcanoes and glaciers. The country is inspiring in many ways, such as employment policy. Young people are not afraid to have children while they study university. The total fertility rate has been around two children per woman for a long time, which is exceptional in Europe and this number is not significantly increased by migrants, such as in France. Older people, on the other hand, retire satisfied and without existential worries. According to the research by Icelandic scientists, local people are even happier with growing age, which is not similar to older people in the Czech Republic.

According to the MENDELU scientists, who were on an internship in this Nordic country, there are many differences between the Icelandic approach and the rest of Europe. “Iceland’s employment rate is around 90 percent for men between the ages of 55 and 59, and about 80 percent for women, which is the highest number among European countries. In the Czech Republic the number is fewer, but in Slovakia, for example, less than 70 percent of women go to work in this age group. The worst situation is in Greece, where the employment of women in this category is less than 40 percent,” says Martin Lakomý from Department of Law and Social Sciences, FBE. His scientific topic is digitization in the labour market, specifically the challenges, opportunities and inequalities to older employees.

Běla Mikulášková, a doctoral student from Economics and Management (FBE), had a one-month internship in Iceland, and her topic is retirement. According to her, the situation in the Czech Republic and Iceland is totally impossible to compare. “People in Iceland have only six working hours, so they have more time for their hobbies, sports and especially their families. It is also interesting that both partners can go to maternity leave there and they can both have shorter working hours. They have enough time to raise their children together. The state also has a well-thought policy and support of citizens who would like to study, and at the same time start their family, so they are not afraid of parenthood during university studies, “said Mikulášková.

According to her, Icelandic policy is generally different. It enables young people to study while they have their family. People work until old age and in old age they are secured and their children are also secured. “They are not as stressed as Czech retired people. Overall, the society’s set-up and mentality is completely different, “says the young scientist. The Icelandic internship has been her first experience during her studies at MENDELU. “I like travelling, but it has been the first time at university, I would definitely recommend it to my colleagues,” said Mikulášková.

The internship will help her in her doctoral thesis, which topic is the influence of selected factors determining the living standards of people in the post-productive age. “Thanks to the experience from Iceland, I will formulate various recommendations to ensure that older people in the Czech Republic are not as stressed as in the past,” said Mikulášková, added by her colleague Drahomíra Zajíčková from the Department of Law and Social Sciences FBE MENDELU, who deals with the impact of parenthood on labour market outcomes and the gender pay differences. The Nordic countries are inspiring in this area. “In our country, women’s salaries are about a fifth lower than men’s,” Zajíčková points out.

According to Professor Sigurveig H Sigurðardóttir of the University of Iceland, the labour market situation in Iceland is stable after the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had unemployment for some time and now we are looking for employees. We are more concerned about the psychological effects of the pandemic, especially on parents with children, “she mentioned.