Stories from FIT

We are not just giving our tips and tricks. We want students to be able to come up with them on their own

Although IT is a dynamic field and new technologies are constantly appearing, the fundamentals of teaching remain the same. "We aren't preparing graduates for their first job, but for a 40-year long career. The successes of our graduates can be easily seen. At FIT, we believe that the perspective that their academic education has given them plays a big role in this," says Richard Růžička, Vice-Dean for Educational Activities in Master's Studies.

How would you introduce studies at FIT to someone who does not know the faculty at all? What is actually taught there?

As the Faculty of InformationTechnology, we emphasize thetechnological and practical sideof the matter rather than just thetheory of informatics. What I see asa unique trait of FIT is that we try toconstantly balance the academicand technological perspectives andcreate a balanced mix of the two forour students. Our graduates are notonly able to work in the industry anddevelop new technologies, but alsogain broad perspectives and theoretical background to fall back on.

This being said, IT is an extremely dynamic field that is constantly evolving. How do you deal with this in your teaching?

This is directly related to the balancing of theoretical and technological subjects that I was talking about, because the changes in the field are mostly related to the development of technology, whereas the theoretical framework remains relatively stable. For these reasons, we at FIT regularly innovate our study programmes, either en masse once every 5 to 10 years or in little details at least once a year. So IT wasn't the only thing that changed over the last 20 years, teaching at FIT did as well. But don't imagine that teaching is di- rectly driven by technological changes. Such an approach wouldn't be effective in the long term. We try to build our study programmes so that what we teach here serves students throughout their entire careers.

So what do students gain from this?

I will start with what students think they will gain. When they come to us, they often want information, facts and tips and tricks on how to do various things. There is a persistent belief in society that you can tell an expert by how much he or she knows. But the university is not really just about getting as much information as possible. If that were the case, all you would have to do is read everything on Google. But this wouldn't improve you as a person, or the whole industry, in any way. In the same way, you will only employ tips and tricks on problems that are already well known, but our graduates will be faced with new problems and it will be up to them to find solutions. This is where getting higher education will help them. Our students will undergo systematic brain training and thus create certain mental structures in their heads, thanks to which they will then know how to approach problems, how to decompose them, where to draw from and so on. That isn't something you can just find on Google.

There is a popular belief that you do not need a university degree to be an "IT guy"...

I'm not really questioning it. But it's important to remember that IT is a very heterogeneous environment where different positions and different companies are represented. Unlike medicine or law, for example, it's difficult to tailor a study programme to a specific position, and it's true that it's possible to find a job without higher education. But it would be a shame to deprive yourself of the academic perspective that can help in the later stages of your career, when you need something to build on when technology changes again.

IT experts are in great demand and it seems that even if FIT were to take on twice the number of students, they would still all get jobs in the field.

Yes, there is a huge interest from the point of view of the society and employers, but studying is not industrial production. It cannot be expected that it will produce graduates with the specific parameters as demanded by the market. We work with people, not material, so it depends on who the students are, what their motivation is or how they approach their studies. They should also be treated accordingly, but unfortunately, due to the massification of the higher education, this isn't easy.

Is the current trend of mass higher education a problem?

This trend is not necessarily bad. The fact that more people are getting education is positive. But what we offer at FIT contradicts massification, because we have always wanted to be a top school, which will take fewer students, but the best ones, whom we can help to go as far as possible. We currently accept around 800 applicants for the first year of the Bachelor's degree, and not all of them are able to cope with our elite model of education. By "being able," we do not mean just the intellectual capacity; our study programmes are not that extreme.

However, the motivation of students, their expectations and ideas also play a crucial role. It's in this respect that it's very difficult to work with them in the current numbers. For example, in the United States or Western Europe, a similar problém has been solved by diversifying higher education institutions. I would consider this to be an appropriate solution even here. If this could be done, we could leave some of the students to other schools that would educate them adequately to who they are and what their ideas and needs are, then the social demand for mass education could be satisfied in a much better way.

How does the connection between studies at FIT and practice looks like?

Many of our students get in touch with practice by working while they study. However, they will not be required to complete an internship in a company as a mandatory part of their studies. Given the plethora of IT positions that exist and our inability to know what kind of environment will the graduates get into, we feel that an internship would be ineffective. We provide links to the real world practice through our lecturers and various guest lecturers, as well as through research projects or summer internships at our industrial partners. However, we are trying to make our students employable anywhere and to make them able to always keep up with technological developments. Therefore, I would like to recommend all students to let the theoretical-technological cocktail we are mixing for them have a proper effect on them. They will gain experience on how things work in a company very quickly even after their graduation, but they will probably not be able to catch up on the academic education they would have missed because of their internships. The successes of our graduates can be easily seen. At FIT, we believe that the perspective that their academic education has given them plays a big role in this

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