Charles University was founded in 1348 and is one of the world's oldest universities. Today it has 17 faculties (14 in Prague, 2 in Hradec Králové and 1 in Plzeň), 3 university institutes, 6 further centres for educational, scientific, research, development and other activities or for provision of information services, 5 university-wide special facilities and the Rectorate as the administrative centre of the whole university.
The university has more than 7,500 employees, 4,000 of these being academic and research staff. Over 51,000 students are studying at CU (which is roughly a sixth of all students in the Czech Republic), in more than 300 accredited degree programmes and 660 study disciplines. More than 18,000 are studying in bachelor's programmes, 25,000 in master's programmes and more than 7,000 in doctoral programmes. Over 6,000 students are from abroad.
Various courses in lifelong learning programmes organised by CU attract more than 15,000 people each year.
The university is dedicated to international co-operation with prestigious educational and research institutions. CU has signed a total of 450 bilateral agreements and 190 international partnership agreements with foreign universities.
Charles University is one of the world's top universities, a fact that has been confirmed repeatedly by the international university rankings. In the Shanghai University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, which evaluates 2,000 universities, Charles University was placed in the top 300 out of the total of 17,000 universities and colleges. Charles University is therefore among the 2% of the best universities and the 100 top European universities. It is the only Czech institution of higher education to be placed in the published list of 500 universities. The university fared just as successfully in The Times THES ranking, being paced 229th.
The status of Charles University can also be characterized by its income, which is roughly 8 billion Czech crowns per year. 45% of this amount comes from educational funding, 29% from competitive research grants, and 26% is its own income.
Charles University is an accredited public university, and so an autonomous scientific and educational establishment. Charles University is headed by a Rector, while the Academic Senate is its supreme self-regulating academic body. Its other organs include the Academic Council and bursar, and the Board of Directors which is responsible for the implementation of public interest in Charles University's policies. The Senate consisting of the prorectors, the bursar and the chancellor make up the advisory body of the rector. The deans are heads of faculties which enjoy a large measure of independence. Other component parts of Charles University are managed by their directors.