The Czech University of Life Sciences is a public university (according to Act No. 111/1998 Coll. on universities). Currently there are 27 public universities and 2 state universities in the Czech Republic. Both public and state universities are financed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. However, public universities are managed by their Rectors’ Board and an Academic Senate, whereas state universities are managed by the relevant Ministries (i.e. Ministry of the Interior for the Police Academy, and Ministry of Defence for the University of Defence).
First lectures on agricultural sciences were delivered at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Prague Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague in 1776. A Department of Agriculture was subsequently established at the Czech Polytechnics in 1812. First lectures in forestry sciences were then given in autumn of 1848.
The actual history of university begins in 1906 with the establishment, by decree of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I, of a Faculty of Agriculture at the Czech Polytechnics in Prague. Professor Julius Stoklasa, a renowned specialist in soil chemistry, became the first Dean of the Faculty. From its very outset (1906/1907), the Faculty developed its own vital activity, based to a large part on the selflessness of its teachers and students.
WW1 temporarily halted the development of the Faculty, but with the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the Faculty started to develop in a very dynamic way. Reforms in the sphere of education in the newly founded Czechoslovak Republic led to structural changes of the Czech Polytechnics (renamed Czech Technical University in Prague in 1920). The Faculty of Agriculture was transformed in 1920 into a College of Agriculture and Forest Engineering. It was still part of the Czech Technical University. The College of Agriculture and Forest Engineering was initially situated in Prague 2 district, in the Gröbe Villa in Havlíčkovy sady. In 1936 it moved to a new building, near the Czech Technical University, in Prague 6 – Dejvice district.
During WW2, all the Czech universities were forcibly closed (from 1939 to 1945). After WW2, and after the takeover of the government in Czechoslovakia by the Communist party (in 1948), the mission of the College of Agriculture was to educate agronomists and engineers for the state operated farms (expropriation of privately owned farms and collectivisation of farmland was the core policy of the Communist government in the area of agriculture, starting in the 1950s and ending in 1989). The Department of Forest Engineering was transformed in to a Forestry Management Institute (until 1964 it remained part of the Czech Technical University).
In July 1952 the College of Agriculture became a University of Agriculture with 3 Faculties – Faculty of Agronomy, Faculty of Mechanisation and Faculty of Agricultural Economics. The University of Agriculture grew gradually in size during the 1960s. In academic year 1960 – 1961 a fourth Faculty was established in České Budějovice. In 1964 a modern university campus was built in the township of Suchdol, about five kilometres from Prague 6 – Dejvice district.
After the downfall of the Communist regime in 1989, and the establishment of democracy and free market enterprise in Czechoslovakia, the University of Agriculture started a new chapter in its development. The Faculty of Forestry was fully reinstated in 1990 and became part of the university, moving to a new building within the university campus in 1997. Later on, in 2006, the Faculty of Forestry was divided in to two Faculties – Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences.
After the peaceful separation of the Czechoslovak Republic in to Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (1993), further reforms in the higher education policy of the Czech Republic ensued. On 1 January 1995, based on Act No. 192/1994 Coll., the University of Agriculture was renamed to Czech University of Agriculture Prague (Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze, acronym ČZU) and became a public university, managed and administered by the Rector’s Board, elected every four years by the University Academic Senate, and supervised by a Board of Trustees. Accreditation of all study programmes remained in the competence of the Czech Ministry of Education. i.e. the State Accreditation Commission for Higher Education Institutions. In 2000, following up on the EU Bologna Declaration, a 3year bachelor, 2year master and 3-4 year doctoral studies system was implemented. As early as1999 ČZU signed the Socrates Erasmus charter and started to send first the exchange students to partner universities in the EU, in the framework of the Socrates Erasmus Life Long Learning Programme.
In 2007 the University Academic Senate changed the official English name of the Czech University of Agriculture in Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, acronym CZU, thus reflecting the full scope of its future educational and research objectives. The official Czech name of the university remains Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze, acronym ČZU.
Currently the university has more than 18 000 students (10% are international students), 6 Faculties and 1 Institute. CZU offers over 170 accredited study programmes at BSc, MSc and PhD levels (in 9 BSc, 20 MSc and 18 PhD programmes the language of instruction is English).