The new Dean Kapounek: My priority is quality

21. 2. 2023

Svatopluk Kapounek has been working at the Faculty of Business and Economics of Mendel University in Brno since 2007. He has held the positions of Head of the Department of Finance, Vice-Dean for Creative Activities and Vice-Rector for Creative Activities. He was President of the Czech Economic Society from 2020 to 2022. He works closely with CERGE-EI and the Institute of Economic Studies of Charles University, the National Bank of Slovakia, the Central Bank of Lithuania and the Austrian Institute for Economic Research WIFO. He has led the Jean Monnet Multilateral Research Group on banking supervision reform in the EU, coordinated an international research project for Vilnius University on optimal currency areas, and is the principal investigator of a number of prestigious projects of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic. His research interests include international and corporate finance, economic policy and financial econometrics. He has published his results in internationally recognized journals such as Economic Modelling, International Review of Economics and Finance, Journal of Behavioral Finance, Economic Systems, Computational Economics.

As of February 1st, you are the new dean, what were your first steps at the faculty in connection with the current case of doctoral degrees?

My priority is quality, both in teaching and research. Therefore, I have assembled a new team of vice-deans with whom we are analysing in detail all processes related to doctoral studies at the faculty. Although as Vice-Rector for Creative Activities I was partly familiar with the situation, a detailed analysis is necessary to effectively follow up on the changes already initiated by the former faculty management.

What are the changes? What are you focusing on in the first phase?

First and foremost, the conditions for awarding dissertations have to be tightened to ensure that their scientific contribution is internationally comparable. Therefore, we will only accept the most talented students who are able to meet qualitative professional and ethical criteria. We will also place higher demands on supervisors, who, thanks to their individual approach to doctoral students, play a key role in ensuring the quality of doctoral studies. At the same time, the faculty must provide sufficient time and financial space for supervisors to conduct research and mentor doctoral students. Last but not least, we will pay much more attention to a detailed continuous control of all processes related to the quality of the study. The traditional definition of publication requirements by means of scientometrics (indexing of journals in specific databases) must be just a basic tool defining minimum criteria. Much more important is a comprehensive qualitative evaluation of the doctoral student’s activity and the content of the outputs of his/her creative activity. In connection with the strengthening of the quality control processes, a change of the supervisor of the doctoral study programme Economics and Management is expected.

In the past, your faculty has recruited students through the services of foreign agencies. What is your opinion about this way of recruiting students?

“Massiveness” and cooperation with intermediary agencies does not make sense. I am glad that this practice has already been terminated in 2021. Doctoral studies are based on students’ scientific research activities, which require relatively high financial costs that are covered by the faculty (e.g. running laboratories, purchasing data, publication fees, participation in foreign conferences, summer schools and internships). The tuition fees are not even enough to cover a fraction of these costs. Doctoral studies must be based on the individual selection of talented students and their subsequent integration into faculty research teams. These students then produce the results on the basis of which the faculty is evaluated and receives major funding.

Where do you see the Faculty of Business and Economics in 4 years?

The faculty currently employs top experts who publish in prestigious international journals and receive domestic and international grants. I want us to transform the skills of our colleagues and our active collaboration with foreign universities and research institutions into cutting-edge education. I want the faculty to be a top educational and scientific institution. I want the Faculty of Business and Economics and Mendel University in Brno to be the “first” choice for students, and its graduates to be proud of their degree from “PEFka”.

You talk about excellence in education, it will be a challenge to correct the current media image of your faculty. How do you plan to do that?

It’s not a challenge, it’s my duty. The media often looks for negative news and tries to create sensational stories that are far from reality at any cost. The fact that these unfair stories not only damage Czech science and higher education, but also have a negative impact on specific people who work hard, is something that few people think about anymore. We will rebuild the good name of the Faculty of Business and Economics and the entire Mendel University in Brno through our careful and honest work, which we are used to. Traditionally, there is interest in studying at our faculty, primarily because of its quality. Although we are a small university, we hold our place alongside the sought-after foreign or large Prague universities. We have been building on this foundation for over a hundred years and we continue to do so.

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