Charles University is currently co-operating, on the basis of bilateral agreements, with more than 130 universities and educational foundations throughout the world.
There is no doubt at all that since 1989, when it became an entirely independent institution, CU's international contacts and relations have proliferated and are continuing to develop rapidly. Bilateral co-operation with leading universities abroad takes the form of collaboration on research projects and activities, exchange of teachers and students, and reciprocal supply of academic publications, information and teaching materials. It often also involves joint participation at conferences, seminars and summer schools. Partner departments are jointly linked into broader European projects and research programmes. At present Charles University is building a global university network and is therefore aiming to forge wider co-operative links with central and east Europe - especially the Baltic states and Russia. Major plans are also being implemented to expand co-operation with institutions in Asia and developing states elsewhere.
Student exchanges are arranged on the basis of university agreements on co-operation, mainly with universities in West and Central Europe and the USA. The most numerous exchanges are with the Federal Republic of Germany, where CU annually sends fifty students for one- to two-month study visits and twenty students to language summer schools. French universities have shown increasing interest in the joint supervision of doctoral dissertations - a system known as "cotutelle"- and this opportunity has been taken up by our students in the humanities and natural sciences. Student exchanges are underway with central European universities (Skopje, Lyublyana, Budapest) Student exchange programmes based on co-operative agreements with various American universities (New York and Kansas State University) and Canada (Simons Fraser University) have also proved popular. The State University of New York is trying to increase the number of students participating in the exchanges from the current fifteen to fifty by the year 2000.
Further exchanges have been made possible by European Union programmes such as the TEMPUS programme (since 1990) and the SOCRATES/ERASMUS programme that the Czech Republic was permitted to join in 1997. This academic year 205 students are going to study for periods of one to two months to a total of 92 universities in EU member states, and 170 EU students are coming to CU. The basis of the Erasmus programme is mutual recognition of university studies and no tuition fees. Students from the second year up including doctoral students may take part. CU has accepted the principles of introduction of the European Credit System for several areas of study in order to facilitate a further expansion in student exchanges. There are also good prospects for the eventual inclusion of CU language departments in the LINGUA programme.
CU's membership of international university networks such as the COIMBRA GROUP (ad hoc exchanges), the NIPPON Foundation for students of social sciences (cca 20 student scholarships annually, including postgraduates) and the association of universities centred on New York University, offers further possibilities for study trips. Other such opportunities are provided, for example by the Central European university studies exchange programme financed by the Austrian government (CEEPUS), for approximately 10 students each year, and the summer academic courses held as part of the programme of the International Centre in Tubingen, attended by approximately 20 CU students annually. A range of short-term one-off travel scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis by university educational organizations and foundations, such as the Humboldt Stiftung, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the DAAD, the Fritz-Thyssen Stiftung, Aktion, The Robert Bosch Stiftung and others. Intergovernmental cultural agreements on co-operation regularly make it possible for CU students and postgraduates to attend summer language courses or study for longer periods abroad with state scholarships (cca 40 annually). The basic aim of all Charles University's international activities is, of course, to ensure that Czech higher education interacts with and meets the standards usual in the educated world.