From VSE in Prague to Stockholm Business School
The faculty of company management in Prague University of Economics and Business (VSE) is accredited by the best European EQUIS business schools. Prestigious accreditation of the faculty means the possibility for students to travel to major business schools in the world through exchange programs for free.
A graduate of our annual courses, VSE student Sergey Timashevsky spent a semester at Stockholm Business School. The editor of the GoStudy blog talked to Sergey about the exchange visit to Stockholm and Prague University of Economics and Business.
You are about to complete the Bachelor’s degree program at Prague University of Economics and Business. Are you happy with your studies? What do you make of the VSE business school?
I went to the Czech Republic to get a European education, allowing me to go somewhere else in Europe afterwards. That’s what I came here for, and that’s what I’ll get here.
Recently, the VSE business school was accredited as one of the best business schools in Europe. For now I can only compare my studies in the Czech Republic with my time in Sweden. Compared to Sweden, Prague University of Economics and Business offers a more conservative, traditional economics education. We studied subjects as per the standard plan, which included microeconomics, macroeconomics, company economics, accounting, etc.
The VSE curriculum is more focused on large companies, you are trained to be a manager at a large company, and you are taught how the company operates as a whole.
And how is Stockholm different?
Stockholm business school teaches emerging innovations. Sweden has the largest number of start-ups. They try to test all the best emerging practices out there and start teaching them as soon as possible, if they prove to be efficient.
To be able to teach how to build a successful start-up from scratch, you need to have a different learning process. Classes at Stockholm business school are not divided into lectures and seminars. The teacher usually explains the material and then you work on this material in groups.
Only current business practitioners are invited to teach at Stockholm business school. First of all, when you come to study, the teacher tells you where about his background, the projects he started and the position he holds at the moment.
What is the situation with the practical component of education at the Prague University of Economics and Business?
There are teachers who are practitioners, but there are not so many of them. However, if a student so wishes then the VSE will easily help to make contacts with the partner companies.
I completed a thesis on Czech start-ups. I had to find start-ups in the Czech Republic and interview their founders. VSE has a business think-tank that helps start-up entrepreneurs. I was put in contact with young entrepreneurs. So there is practical knowledge application at VSE as well.
Everyone says that it is difficult to study at VSE in Prague. What is your opinion, what was harder – Prague or Stockholm?
It was much more difficult in Stockholm. More precisely, they requested other things from you. At VSE in Prague, you need to have an idea of how an enterprise works, so that you understand the general procedure as a whole and the way all parts operate together.
Stockholm has a creative component to the classes they teach there. I studied such subjects as ‘Innovations in business models’, ‘How to start your own company: from business idea to implementation’, ‘From idea to working business in healthcare’.
They scored us for being active in the classroom. We performed case studies with experts from outside. They presented us with the material, we studied it and held discussions with experts on this basis. It was necessary to deliver the final project, for each lesson you had to prepare a part of this project. It was full-on.
They say that Erasmus students are treated with more tolerance at universities. Is that really so?
It is true, as many people do not come to study. Everyone is used to it everywhere, it has become a stereotype. But I would not say that Stockholm business school has a different attitude to the Swedes and those who come through Erasmus exchange, we all studied together.
Was the study process different in any way?
Yes it was, Sweden has a different concept of exams and studying subjects. One semester is divided into four parts, students study three or four subjects in each quarter. In other words, students study 12-15 subjects per semester.
Every quarter you report back, complete your classes, and start studying the next ones. This seems to be a more convenient scheme for me than studying 10 subjects for 4 months and then passing tests on them all together.
Is training more based on group work?
Taking into account that you have only a month to study the subject, you are forced to work as a team more often, and work more by yourself.
Since I was in a group with a lot of foreign exchange students, we all wanted to communicate. In this regard, we worked more as a team work than, for example, students do at seminars at Prague University of Economics and Business.
Could you share some practical information with our readers: how can a student from VSE go on an exchange program? What countries are offered? How are the participants selected?
VSE offers more than 100 countries for exchange trips. There is a competition: 300 applicants out of 1000 will get to go. 1 or 2 people are usually sent to the same country.
There is a competition to go to a specific country. The most popular are Japan, America, Canada, and France. These countries have the highest competition. For comparison, if 5 people want to go to Poland then 4 of them will get to go; if 40 people want to go to America, only 2 or 3 will be chosen.
When you apply, you need to select 6 countries in order of preference. The selection process takes into account your academic progress, English test results, and participation in the buddy program (helping a foreign student adapt in Prague). You can get 100 points for academic progress, 30 for the English test and 10 for taking part in the buddy program. I found out about the buddy program too late. It gives you a significant advantage and for many students it is a decisive factor when it comes to selecting a country.
What was the scholarship like? How was the accommodation arranged?
I went to study in Stockholm for 4.5 months. The scholarship was 500 Euros per month. The cost of living in Stockholm is high and the scholarship barely covered the accommodation.
I contacted the company that dealt with student accommodation in Stockholm. I lived in a student hostel close to the city centre, my neighbour was from the UK.
Student organisations arranged parties, sports and different entertainment events for us. There were a lot of different events. Not all visiting students have time to study because all the extra activities.
Was it possible to find a part-time job?
It will be difficult for a foreigner to find a job in Stockholm. Despite the fact that everyone speaks English, you must speak at least some Swedish.
The University has a special work placement centre that offers assistance to students trying to find work. I wanted to earn extra money but was advised at the centre that it was impossible as I did not speak any Swedish and was only going to be there for 4 months.
Was it possible to start learning Swedish?
Yes, Erasmus students had opportunity to study Swedish and get credits for it.
What are your plans for the Master’s program?
I’m going to go to another country for my Master’s degree. Sweden influenced my decision.
VSE is the best business school in the Czech Republic, I will get a Bachelor’s degree here and I plan to move on after that. I am considering Spain. In addition to English, a second language is required at VSE. I learned Spanish from scratch and now have a good command of it.