Poland

RegionCentral Europe
CapitalWarsaw
LanguagePolish
Population38,386,000
Expenditure on higher education2,6 %
Unemployment3,48 %
EuroUniversities in top 1001
EuroUniversities in top 2505
EuroUniversities in top 50021
EuroUniversities in top 100047
Students1,422,000
Foreigner students3,2 %
Enrollment rate in higher education68,2 %

Poland is a country located in Central Europe. Higher education currently includes the following types of programmes:

  • College programmes (ISCED 5): 3-year programmes, provided by public and non-public colleges of social work ( kolegium pracowników służb społecznych), which are classified as tertiary education for international comparisons, but are not recognised as part of higher education in the national legislation.
  • Specialist programmes (ISCED 5): fee-based programmes of at least 3 semesters, provided by public and non-public higher education institutions. A specialist programme sets out learning outcomes which integrate universal descriptors for first-cycle programmes as defined in the Integrated Qualifications System. It includes classes / activities developing practical skills.
  • First-, second- and long-cycle programmes (ISCED 6-7), provided by both public and non-public university-type higher education institutions (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university higher education institutions ( uczelnia zawodowa), which comply with the following requirements:
    • first-cycle programmes leading to a Bachelor’s degree ( licencjat or inżynier): 3- to 4-year programmes which lead to a licencjat degree and 3.5- to 4-year programmes which lead to an inżynier degree, depending on the area of study;
    • second-cycle programmes which last 1.5 to 2 years and lead to a Master’s (magister) degree or an equivalent degree, depending on the area of study;
    • long-cycle programmes which last between 4.5 and 6 years and lead to the same Master’s (magister) degree or equivalent degree as awarded upon completion of second-cycle programmes; the areas in which long-cycle programmes may be provided are specified in national legislation.
  • Third-cycle programmes (ISCED 8): 3- to 4-year doctoral programmes: a right to confer a PhD in a given discipline is granted to HEIs, research institutions or international research institutes with a research category of A+,A or B+. B.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) and research institutions also offer 1- to 2-year non-degree postgraduate programmes which are open to applicants who hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. However, non-degree postgraduate programmes are considered part of adult or continuing education.

Classes in HEIs usually begin on 1 October and finish in June. The academic year is divided into two semesters. In addition to the summer holidays, there are the following breaks: a 1- to 2-week break around Christmas and the Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany); the winter break (in the first half of February) lasting 1-2 weeks, and the Easter break.

Detailed arrangements for the academic year are laid down by individual HEIs.

Specific Legislative Framework

Colleges

Legislation for colleges of social work which are classified as ISCED 5 institutions:

  • Regulation of the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy of 15 September 2016 on colleges of social work (Journal of Law of 2016, item 1543);
  • Regulation of the Minister of Social Policy of 7 April 2005 on the national standards for initial training programmes in colleges of social work (Journal of Law of 2005, no. 62, item 555).

The Regulation of the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy of 15 September 2016 on colleges of social work lays down detailed arrangements for the establishment, restructuring and liquidation of colleges of social work; organisational and operational arrangements for colleges, including appointment to management positions; arrangements for academic supervision exercised over a given college by an HEI and pedagogical supervision over colleges exercised by the educational authorities; conditions and procedures for issuing, and specimens of, documents provided to college students and graduates, including graphic symbols on college diplomas which identify the level of the Polish Qualifications Framework.

The Regulation of the Minister of Social Policy of 7 April 2005 on the programme requirements for initial training in colleges of social work lays down national standards for programmes to be offered by colleges: duration of programmes, groups of courses (subjects) to be taught, the minimum course load and general curricular contents, the scope and duration of practical placements, and the profile of graduates. The requirements provide the basis for curricula to be developed by colleges.

Higher education

  • Article 70 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland
  • Act of 20 July 2018, The Law on Higher Education and Science (Journal of Law of 2018, item 1668)
  • Act of 3 July 2018, Provisions introducing the Law on Higher Education and Science (Journal of Law of 2018, item 1669)
  • Act of 7 July 2017 on the National Agency for Academic Exchange (Journal of Law of 2017, item 1530)
  • Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualifications System (Journal of Law of 2016, item 64)
  • Act of 22 December 2015 on the Rules for the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Acquired in Member States of the European Union (Journal of Law of 2016, item 65)
  • Act of 30 April 2010 on the National Centre for Research and Development (Journal of Law of 2010 No. 96, item 616)
  • Act of 30 April 2010 on the National Science Centre (Journal of Law of 2010 No. 96, item 617)

The Law on Higher Education and Science (LoHES) of 20 July 2018 has consolidated key regulations on higher education and science, integrating arrangements previously covered by the Law on Higher Education and the Acts on research funding, student loans and credits, and the research degrees (doktor and doktor habilitowany) and the professorial title. Most provisions of the LoHES came into force on 1 October 2018, but the process of its implementation will not be completed before 2022. TheLoHES applies to both public and non-public HEIs but does not apply to higher education seminaries administered by churches and denominational organisations, except the Catholic University of Lublin, unless stated otherwise in an agreement between the Polish Government and church authorities.

Information on legislation is also available in Chapter 15: Legislation

General objectives

Programmes at the higher education level are offered by colleges of social work (kolegium pracowników służb społecznych) (ISCED 5), higher education institutions (HEIs) (ISCED 6 to 8) and research institutions (only ISCED 8).

The 2018 Law on Higher Education and Science (LoHES) is based on the following principles:

  • It is the responsibility of public authorities to provide best possible conditions for the freedom of scientific research and artistic creation, freedom of teaching and autonomy of the academic community.
  • Every scholar takes responsibility for the quality and reliability of the research conducted and for the education of the young generation.
  • HEIs and other research institutions carry out a mission of special importance to the state and nation: they make a crucial contribution to the innovativeness of the economy and contribute to the development of culture and the development of moral standards for public life.
  • In this context, the mission of higher education and science is to provide education and conduct research of highest quality, shape civic attitudes and contribute to societal development and the creation of an innovation-based economy.

The main tasks of university-type HEIs include:

  • providing first-, second- and long-cycle programmes;
  • providing non-degree postgraduate programmes and other types of training;
  • conducting research activities, delivering research services and transferring knowledge and technology to the economy;
  • training doctoral students;
  • training and promoting university staff;
  • providing conditions for full participation of people with disabilities in higher education;
  • educating students to develop their sense of responsibility for the Polish state and national tradition, and for fostering the principles of democracy and respecting human rights;
  • providing conditions for the development of students’ physical culture;
  • disseminating and multiplying achievements of science and culture, incl. collecting and sharing library, information and archive resources, and undertaking activities which benefit local and regional communities.

The range of basic tasks of non-university HEIs is similar, except that it does not include research activities (and, consequently, research services and technology transfer) and the training of doctoral students. Instead, it includes the provision of specialist programmes.

The primary aim of research institutions other than HEIs is to conduct research and development activities, but many institutions also train prospective research staff by providing doctoral programmes.

Specific aims of college programmes, first-, second- and long-cycle programmes, and third-cycle (doctoral) programmes are discussed below.

Bachelor

Areas of study

In Poland, academic areasare specified in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 20 September 2018 on the fields of science and disciplines of science and arts (Journal of Law 2018, item 1818). A previous list has been revised to reduce the number of disciplines; the new list is based on the OECD standards (8 knowledge fields and 102 disciplines on the previous list have been replaced by 48 disciplines). The new approach is part of reforms introduced in Polish higher education in 2018. For further details on the reforms.

Each first-cycle programme is provided in a specific area of study and at a specific level of study and has a specific orientation (‘profile’). An HEI assigns an area of study to at least 1 discipline.

I. Field of science: Humanities

1. Archaeology

2. Philosophy

3. History

4. Language Studies

5. Literature Studies

6. Cultural and Religious Studies

7. Art Sciences

II. Field of science: Engineering and Technology

1. Architecture and Urban Planning

2. Automation Engineering, Electronic Engineering and Electric Engineering

3. Information Engineering and Telecommunications

4. Biomedical Engineering

5. Chemical Engineering

6. Civil Engineering and Transport Engineering

7. Materials Engineering

8. Mechanical Engineering

9. Environmental Engineering, Mining and Energy Engineering

III. Field of Science: Medical and Health Sciences

1. Pharmaceutical Sciences

2. Medical Sciences

3. Physical Culture Sciences

4. Health Sciences

IVField of Science: Agricultural Sciences

1. Forestry

2. Agriculture and Horticulture

3. Food and Nutrition Technology

4. Veterinary Science

5. Animal Husbandry and Fishery

V. Field of Science: Social Sciences

1. Economics and Finance

2. Social and Economic Geography, and Land Management

3. Security Studies

4. Social Communication and Media

5. Political Science and Administration

6. Management and Quality Sciences

7. Law

8. Sociology

9. Educational Sciences

10. Canon Law

11. Psychology

VI. Field of Science: Natural Sciences

1. Astronomy

2. Computer Science

3. Mathematics

4. Biological Sciences

5. Chemical Sciences

6. Physical Sciences

7. Earth and Environmental Sciences

VII. Field of Science: Theological Sciences

1. Theological Science

VIII. Field of Science: Arts

1. Theatre and Film Arts

2. Musicology

3. Plastic Arts, and Art Conversation and Restoration

First-cycle programmes are divided into practically oriented and academically oriented programmes (a so-called practical and general academic orientation / ‘profile’), and this is reflected in curriculum design. A curriculum for a practically oriented programme includes classes / courses developing practical skills which represent more than 50% of the total number of ECTS credits. In a curriculum for an academically oriented programme, more than 50% of the total number of ECTS credits are allocated to classes / courses related to an HEI’s research activities in (a) discipline(s) to which a given area of study is assigned.

Public HEIs most often offer programmes in the following groups of areas of study:

  • Universities: humanities, social sciences, economics and administration, law, journalism and information, natural sciences, education;
  • Technical universities: engineering and technology, architecture and construction, transport, environmental protection, economics and administration;
  • Agricultural universities/academies: agriculture, environmental protection, veterinary medicine;
  • Universities/academies of economics: economics and administration;
  • Pedagogical universities/academies: education, social sciences, humanities;
  • Medical universities/academies: medicine, dentistry, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy;
  • Schools/universities of maritime studies: engineering and technology, navigation, economics and administration;
  • Universities/academies of physical education: physical education, sport, physiotherapy;
  • Schools/academies of art studies: fine arts, music, theatre and film studies;
  • Military higher education institutions: areas relevant to military service, engineering and technology, navigation;
  • Government service institutions: areas relevant to the police and fire services, engineering and technology;

(Most HEIs listed above are university-type institutions which provide both first- and second-cycle programmes)

  • Non-university HEIs providing only first-cycle programmes (earlier referred to as ‘schools of higher professional education): economics and administration, social sciences.

The official duration of first-cycle (Bachelor’s degree) programmes in both university-type and non-university HEIs is at least 6 semesters for programmes leading to a licencjat degree and at least 7 semesters for programmes leading to an inżynier degree, depending on the area of study.

A part-time programme may last longer than the corresponding full-time programme.

HEIs are required to obtain a permit from the Minister of Science and Higher Education to establish a programme. Such a permit is not required for an HEI which intends to establish a programme in an area of study assigned to a discipline where it has the A+, A or B+ research rating. (Ratings are awarded based on an external evaluation of the quality of research.)

Admission requirements

General requirements for admission to first-cycle programmes are thesame for university-type and non-university HEIs.

Access to first-cycle programmes, leading to a Bachelor’s degree (licencjat or inżynier), is open to holders of a maturity certificate (świadectwo maturalne). After the introduction of the external maturity examination ( egzamin maturalny) in 2005, admission to first-cycle degree programmes is based on results of this examination. Thus, HEIs do not conduct entrance exams in the subjects which were taken by student applicants in the maturity exam. However, each HEI may specify which results of the maturity exam provide the basis for admission to first-cycle (and long-cycle) programmes. Additional entrance exams may be conducted by HEIs when it is necessary to assess artistic aptitude, physical fitness or special aptitude or skills for studies in a given area which are not assessed by the maturity exam, or when an applicant holds an upper secondary school leaving certificate obtained abroad.

While respecting the general admission requirements set by law, each HEI may lay down its own additional admission requirements and procedures , including the number of places available to students, except in medical areas of study (numerus clausus). Admission requirements and procedures can be similar across an HEI or vary according to the area of study. Different requirements and procedures can be defined by different HEIs for the same areas of study. Admission requirements and procedures should be published by each HEI not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

The maximum number of students to be enrolled in each medical area of study (nursing and midwifery) by individual HEIs concerned is specified in a regulation by the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Minister of Science and Higher Education. The maximum enrolment levels take into account the teaching capacity of the HEIs concerned and the demand for graduates in a given medical area of study.

For other areas of study, consent from the competent minister is required where a public HEI intends to increase student enrolment on full-time programmes by more than 2% of the number of students enrolled on full-time programmes in the previous academic year.

Student enrolment is carried out within HEIs by admissions committees appointed by the head of a given organisational unit (e.g. faculty) or another body identified in the statutes of an HEI. Admissions committees take decisions in all matters related to student enrolment. Applicants may appeal against decisions of an admissions committee to the institutional admissions committee and the rector; decisions taken by the rector are final.

Curriculum

University-type and non-university HEIs should meet the same requirements in order to provide programmes. The requirements are laid down by the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 27 September 2018 on degree programmes (which applies to first-, second- and long-cycle programmes).

The Regulation defines:

  1. requirements to be fulfilled by a curriculum;
  2. the range of information to be provided in an application for a permit to establish a programme;
  3. areas of study in which long-cycle programmes are offered;
  4. requirements for courses / classes delivered using distance learning methods and techniques, and the maximum number of ECTS credits to be awarded for such courses / classes;
  5. requirements for documentation on student progression, identity cards and diplomas.

Pursuant to the Regulation, a curriculum should specify, among other things, the form or mode of study; number of semesters and ECTS credits necessary to complete each semester, and the degree awarded to graduates. Additionally, it identifies classes / courses (groups of classes), regardless of the form or mode in which they are conducted, together with the related learning outcomes (LOs) and curricular contents for achieving the LOs; the total number of class hours; methods for verification and assessment of the LOs achieved by students during the entire programme; and the total number of ECTS credits which students should earn as part of classes / activities directly involving teachers. Furthermore, a curriculum specifies the length and arrangements for practical placements and the number of ECTS credits that students are required to earn for such placements. As a rule, a curriculum should enable students to choose classes (courses) which are allocated at least 30% of the total number of ECTS credits.

A curriculum may not be changed during a given programme cycle.

A curriculum may provide for selected or all courses as part of a given programme to be taught in languages other than Polish.

Detailed national standards for programmes in the areas of Nursing and Midwifery are laid down by the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2012 (Journal of Law 2012, item 631).

Teaching methods

There are no general national regulations or guidelines on teaching methods. Teaching is organised in the form of lectures, classes, workshops, seminars, projects, tutorials, laboratory classes and/or practical training/placements, depending on the content of the curriculum for a given area of study. Teachers use a wide variety of teaching methods and materials, ranging from traditional ones to those based on ICT, including multimedia tools.

Progression of students

Detailed arrangements for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and for admission to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations by individual HEIs. However, all students can take a resit exam, including the final exam, and an exam following a failed resit exam which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. To be admitted to the final exam, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum, earn a required number of ECTS credits (at least 180 ECTS for a first-cycle programme) and submit their final thesis (except in medical fields), prepared independently, which should then receive a positive assessment. If a curriculum does not provide for a thesis and the final examination, students are only required to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum.

The head of a basic organisational unit of an HEI (e.g. faculty) is required to strike a student from the register of students in case he/she has not taken up or has withdrawn from study, has not submitted the final thesis or has not taken the final exam within the timeframe set in the study regulations. The head may also strike from the register a student who has made no progress in learning or has not completed successfully a semester or academic year within the timeframe specified in the study regulations.

Employability

Practical placements for students are an integral part of first-cycle programmes in most areas of study. There are no national guidelines on payment for practical placements.

Many HEIs have established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland. Careers services collaborate with the National Labour Office. They provide information about jobs available to professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Students and graduates can also receive information and guidance from careers advisors in public employment services and private employment agencies on how to prepare a CV and a motivation letter, how to behave in an interview, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Cooperation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

Pursuant to the 2011 amendments to the 2005 Law on Higher Education, HEIs are required to monitor graduates’ careers in order to adapt their programmes and curricula to the needs of the labour market. This should take place, in particular, 3 and 5 years after graduation.

Additionally, basic organisational units of HEIs should integrate into curricula findings from an analysis of the relevance of learning outcomes to labour market needs and findings from graduate career monitoring. HEIs may have consultative bodies which bring together external stakeholders, in particular employers.

Student assessment

In the Polish higher education system, learning outcomes achieved by students are usually verified within the home HEI by the academic teacher responsible for a given course. Assessment arrangements are laid down at the level of an HEI (basic organisational unit) as part of its internal quality assurance system.

In the period preceding the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for higher education, the assessment of achieved learning outcomes, also within HEIs which had previously developed syllabuses in accordance with the NQF, was relatively limited. Most of the applied tools enabled assessing the extent to which a student was familiar with curricular contents, thus addressing the ‘knowledge’ category of outcomes, and allowed teachers to establish whether a student had sufficient knowledge to receive a particular mark.

The most common internal assessment methods include:

  • tests,
  • written (narrative) examinations,
  • oral examinations,
  • papers / midterm essays,
  • research / laboratory class reports,
  • students’ presentations,
  • individual and group projects,
  • active participation in classes,
  • class attendance,
  • portfolio,
  • peer assessment,
  • short entry tests before laboratory classes,
  • self-assessment.

In verifying the learning outcomes achieved, teachers can use one or more of the above-mentioned methods (e.g. active participation combined with a midterm paper and a final test).

As part of many programmes, students undertake acompulsory practical placement/internship. The final assessment is often descriptive and covers, in fact, not only the ‘knowledge’ group of outcomes, but also ‘skills’ and ‘social competences’. Practical placements are particularly important for the assessment of the latter two groups of learning outcomes. By performing their duties, students can demonstrate that they have specific professional skills which are verified in a practical way in a suitable working environment. The descriptive assessment often also includes the student’s personal characteristics such as teamwork skills, critical thinking, etc.

The final (diploma) examination has a specific role in the verification of learning outcomes as it assesses competencies acquired during the entire programme. In particular, it should demonstrate whether students understand the knowledge imparted to them and are able to use the knowledge gained, for example, as part of various courses. Thus, aside from the acquired knowledge, the final exam also verifies to some extent students’ social competences. Detailed arrangements for the final exam are laid down at the level of an HEI and its basic organisational units. The final mark, which appears on the diploma, is determined by the mark for the final thesis which is assessed by the supervisor and reviewer, the mark for the diploma exam (during which a student may be asked questions about the thesis or other ones), and the average mark for the entire programme. The review of the thesis is multifaceted and covers elements such as:

  • relevance to the topic,
  • characteristics of the content arrangement,
  • use of references, indexes, etc.,
  • correctness in language,
  • general assessment of the content,
  • new approach to the issues addressed,
  • general assessment of the thesis based on the following grading scale: 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!.

The verification of learning outcomes ends with an overall mark which can be a pass/fail or a numeric mark from a set of possible marks (e.g. 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!).

In some cases, the procedure for the verification of learning outcomes provides for the involvement of an external entity. This is the case especially in foreign language exams. For example, exams leading to PTE General certificates assess four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Such certificates:

  • provide the basis for exemption from a foreign language exam as part of the doctoral examination (Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 22 September 2011; Journal of Law 204, item 1200);
  • are recognised by the Ministry of National Education as evidence of the language skills required of those who intend to work as English language teachers (Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 17 April 2012; Journal of Law of 2012, item 426);
  • are recognised as evidence of English language skills by the Civil Service (Regulation of the Prime Minister of 16 December 2009; Journal of Law 218, item 1695) and many employers in Poland and abroad.

In some cases, learning outcomes in a foreign language are verified externally, even though the learning process takes place within an HEI. It makes the assessment more objective. Moreover, if students fail to complete a semester or fail an exam, there are no grounds to claim that they have not been awarded credits for financial reasons (an additional fee to be charged from a student).

Certification

First-cycle programmes offered by both university-type and non-university HEIs end with the final (diploma) examination (egzamin dyplomowy). It is conducted by an examination board composed of academic teachers of the organisational unit of an HEI (e.g. faculty or department) which provides the programme concerned.

Students who have passed the final exam are awarded a higher education diploma (dyplom ukończenia studiów wyższych) which confirms the completion of a given programme and the award of the relevant degree in a given area. If a programme does not provide for the final examination, students are only required to have completed all courses and practical placements in order to obtain a diploma confirming the award of the relevant degree (the overall mark equals the average of all marks received as part of the programme). The same diplomas and degrees are awarded by university-type and non-university HEIs. Diplomas include obligatory elements defined in a regulation of the minister responsible for higher education and are officially recognised documents. At the graduate’s request, the HEI is required to issue a copy of the diploma in a foreign language.

The following types of Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to students upon completion of first-cycle programmes:

  • licencjat: in the areas of humanities, natural sciences, incl. mathematics, social sciences, economic sciences, law, medical areas (except nursing and midwifery), physical education and arts;
  • inżynier: in the areas of engineering and technology (except architecture and urban planning), agricultural sciences and other areas where 50% of classes / courses cover engineering, technology, agriculture or forestry;
  • inżynier architekt: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Architecture;
  • inżynier pożarnictwa: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Safety Engineering provided at the Central School of Fire Service to firefighters of the State Fire Service;
  • licencjat pielęgniarstwa: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Nursing;
  • licencjat położnictwa:  where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Midwifery.

A Bachelor’s degree (licencjat or inżynier) entitles its holder to practise a given profession and provides access to second-cycle (Master’s degree) programmes.

Second Cycle Programmes

Areas of study

In Poland, academic areasare specified in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 20 September 2018 on the fields of science and disciplines of science and arts (Journal of Law 2018, item 1818). A previous list has been revised to reduce the number of disciplines; the new list is based on the OECD standards (8 knowledge fields and 102 disciplines on the previous list have been replaced by 48 disciplines). The new approach is part of reforms introduced in Polish higher education in 2018.

Each second-cycle programme is provided in a specific area of study and at a specific level of study and has a specific orientation (‘profile’). An HEI assigns an area of study to at least 1 discipline.

I. Field of science: Humanities

1. Archaeology

2. Philosophy

3. History

4. Language Studies

5. Literature Studies

6. Cultural and Religious Studies

7. Art Sciences

II. Field of science: Engineering and Technology

1. Architecture and Urban Planning

2. Automation Engineering, Electronic Engineering and Electric Engineering

3. Information Engineering and Telecommunications

4. Biomedical Engineering

5. Chemical Engineering

6. Civil Engineering and Transport Engineering

7. Materials Engineering

8. Mechanical Engineering

9. Environmental Engineering, Mining and Energy Engineering

III. Field of Science: Medical and Health Sciences

1. Pharmaceutical Sciences

2. Medical Sciences

3. Physical Culture Sciences

4. Health Sciences

IV. Field of Science: Agricultural Sciences

1. Forestry

2. Agriculture and Horticulture

3. Food and Nutrition Technology

4. Veterinary Science

5. Animal Husbandry and Fishery

V. Field of Science: Social Sciences

1. Economics and Finance

2. Social and Economic Geography, and Land Management

3. Security Studies

4. Social Communication and Media

5. Political Science and Administration

6. Management and Quality Sciences

7. Law

8. Sociology

9. Educational Sciences

10. Canon Law

11. Psychology

VI. Field of Science: Natural Sciences

1. Astronomy

2. Computer Science

3. Mathematics

4. Biological Sciences

5. Chemical Sciences

6. Physical Sciences

7. Earth and Environmental Sciences

VII. Field of Science: Theological Sciences

1. Theological Science

VIII. Field of Science: Arts

1. Theatre and Film Arts

2. Musicology

3. Plastic Arts and Art Conversation and Restoration

Second-cycle programmes are divided into practically oriented and academically oriented programmes (a so-called practical and general academic orientation / ‘profile’), and this is reflected in curriculum design. A curriculum for a practically oriented programme includes classes / courses developing practical skills which represent more than 50% of the total number of ECTS credits. In a curriculum for an academically oriented programme, more than 50% of the total number of ECTS credits are allocated to classes / courses related to an HEI’s research activities in (a) discipline(s) to which a given area of study is assigned.

Public HEIs most often offer programmes in the following groups of areas of study:

  • Universities: humanities, social sciences, economics and administration, law, journalism and information, natural sciences, education;
  • Technical universities: engineering and technology, architecture and construction, transport, environmental protection, economics and administration;
  • Agricultural universities/academies: agriculture, environmental protection, veterinary medicine;
  • Universities/academies of economics: economics and administration;
  • Pedagogical universities/academies: education, social sciences, humanities;
  • Medical universities/academies: medicine, dentistry, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy;
  • Schools/universities of maritime studies: engineering and technology, navigation, economics and administration;
  • Universities/academies of physical education: physical education, sport, physiotherapy;
  • Schools/academies of art studies: fine arts, music, theatre and film studies;
  • Military higher education institutions: fields relevant to military service, engineering and technology, navigation;
  • Government service higher education institutions: fields relevant to the police and fire services, engineering and technology;

(Most HEIs listed above are university-type HEIs which provide both first- and second-cycle programmes)

  • Non-university HEIs providing only first-cycle programmes (earlier referred to as ‘schools of higher professional education): economics and administration, social sciences.

The official duration of second-cycle programmes, which lead to a magister or magister inżynier (Master’s) degree, in both university-type and non-university HEIs is 3 to 5 semesters, depending on the area of study.

A part-time programme may last longer than the corresponding full-time programme.

HEIs are required to obtain a permit from the Minister of Science and Higher Education to establish a programme. Such a permit is not required for an HEI which intends to establish a programme in an area of study assigned to a discipline where it has the A+, A or B+ research rating. (Ratings are awarded based on an evaluation of the quality of research).

Admission requirements

General requirements for admission to second-cycle programmes are the same for university-type and non-university HEIs.

Access to second-cycle programmes is open to applicants who hold a Bachelor’s (licencjat or inżynierdegree ora Master’s (magister) degree or an equivalent degree.

While respecting the general admission requirements set by law, each HEI may lay down its own additional admission requirements and procedures, including the number of places available to students, except in medical areas of study (numerus clausus). Admission requirements and procedures may be similar across an HEI or may vary according to the area of study. Different requirements and procedures may be applied by different HEIs for the same areas of study. Admission requirements and procedures should be published by each HEI not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

The maximum number of students to be enrolled in two medical areas of study (nursing and midwifery) by individual HEIs concerned is specified in a regulation by the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Minister of Science and Higher Education. The maximum enrolment levels take into account the teaching capacity of the HEIs concerned and the demand for graduates in these areas of study.

For other areas of study, consent from the competent minister is required where a public HEI intends to increase student enrolment on full-time programmes by more than 2% of the number of students enrolled on full-time programmes in the previous academic year.

In HEIs where applicants should meet additional conditions, student enrolment is carried out by admissions committees appointed by the head of a given organisational unit (e.g. faculty) or another body indicated in the statutes of a given HEI. Admissions committees take decisions in all matters related to student enrolment. Applicants may appeal against decisions of an admissions committee to the institutional admissions committee, and to the rector; decisions taken by the rector are final.

Curriculum

University-type and non-university HEIs should meet the same requirements in order to provide programmes. The requirements are laid down by the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 27 September 2018 on degree programmes (which applies to first-, second- and long-cycle programmes).

The Regulation defines:

  1. requirements to be fulfilled by a curriculum;
  2. the range of information to be provided in an application for a permit to establish a programme;
  3. areas of study in which long-cycle programmes are offered;
  4. requirements for courses / classes delivered using distance learning methods and techniques, and the maximum number of ECTS credits to be awarded for such courses / classes;
  5. requirements for documentation on student progression, identity cards and diplomas.

curriculum should specify, among other things, the form or mode of study; number of semesters and ECTS credits necessary to complete each semester, and the degree awarded to graduates. Additionally, it identifies classes / courses (groups of classes), regardless of the form or mode in which they are conducted, together with the related learning outcomes (LOs) and curricular contents for achieving the LOs; the total number of class hours; methods for verification and assessment of the LOs achieved by students during the entire programme; and the total number of ECTS credits which students should earn as part of classes / activities directly involving teachers. Furthermore, a curriculum specifies the length and arrangements for practical placements and the number of ECTS credits that students are required to earn for such placements. As a rule, a curriculum should enable students to choose classes (courses) which are allocated at least 30% of the total number of ECTS credits.

A curriculum may not be changed during a given programme cycle.

A curriculum may provide for selected or all courses as part of a given programme to be taught in languages other than Polish.

Detailed national standards for programmes in the areas of Nursing and Midwifery are laid down by the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2012 (Journal of Law 2012, item 631).

Teaching methods

There are no general national regulations or guidelines on teaching methods. Teaching is organised in the form of lectures, classes, workshops, seminars, projects and/or practical training / placements, depending on the content of the curriculum for a given area of study. Teachers use a wide variety of teaching methods and materials, ranging from traditional ones to those based on ICT, including multimedia tools.

Progression of students

Detailed arrangements for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and for admission to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations by individual HEIs. However, all students can take a resit examination, including the final examination, and an exam following a failed resit exam which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. To be admitted to the final exam, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum, obtain a required number of ECTS credits (at least 90 ECTS for a second-cycle programme) and submit their final thesis, prepared independently, which should then receive a positive assessment. Where a curriculum does not provide for a thesis and the final examination, students are only required to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum.

The head of a basic organisational unit of an HEI (e.g. faculty) is required to strike a student from the register of students in case he/she has not undertaken or has withdrawn from studies, has not submitted a thesis or has not taken the final exam within the timeframe set in the study regulations. The head may also strike from the register a student who has made no progress in learning or has not completed successfully a semester or academic year within the timeframe specified in the study regulations.

Employability

Practical placements for students are an integral part of programmes in most areas of study.

Many HEIs have established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland. Careers services collaborate with the National Labour Office. They provide information about jobs available to professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Students and graduates can also obtain information and guidance from careers advisors in public employment services and private employment agencies on how to prepare a CV and a motivation letter, how to behave in an interview, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Cooperation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

Pursuant to the 2011 amendment to the 2005 Law on Higher Education, HEIs are required to monitor graduates’ careers in order to adapt their programmes and curricula to the needs of the labour market. This should take place, in particular, 3 and 5 years after graduation.

Additionally, basic organisational units of HEIs should integrate into curricula findings from an analysis of the relevance of learning outcomes to labour market needs and findings from graduate career monitoring.

Student assessment

In the Polish higher education system, learning outcomes achieved by students are usually verified within the home HEI by the academic teacher responsible for a given course. Assessment arrangements are laid down at the level of an HEI (basic organisational unit) as part of its internal quality assurance system.

In the period preceding the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for higher education, the assessment of achieved learning outcomes, also within HEIs which had previously developed syllabuses in accordance with the NQF, was relatively limited. Most of the applied tools enabled assessing the extent to which a student was familiar with curricular contents, thus addressing the ‘knowledge’ category of outcomes, and allowed teachers to establish whether a student had sufficient knowledge to receive a particular mark.

The most common internal assessment methods include:

  • tests,
  • written (narrative) examination,
  • oral examination,
  • papers / midterm essays,
  • research / laboratory class reports,
  • students’ presentations,
  • individual and group projects,
  • active participation in classes,
  • class attendance,
  • portfolio,
  • peer assessment,
  • short entry tests before the laboratory classes,
  • self-assessment.

In verifying the learning outcomes achieved, teachers can use one or more of the above-mentioned methods (e.g. active participation combined with a midterm paper and a final test).

As part of many programmes, students undertake a compulsory practical placement / internship. The final assessment is often descriptive and covers, in fact, not only the ‘knowledge’ group of outcomes, but also ‘skills’ and ‘social competences’. Practical placements are particularly important for the assessment of the latter two groups of learning outcomes. By performing their duties, students can demonstrate that they have specific professional skills which are verified in a practical way in a suitable working environment. The descriptive assessment often also includes the student’s personal characteristics such as: teamwork skills, critical thinking skills, etc.

The final (diploma) examination has a specific role in the verification of learning outcomes as it assesses competencies acquired during the entire programme. In particular, it should demonstrate whether students understand the knowledge imparted to them and are able to use the knowledge acquired, for example, as part of various courses. Thus, aside from the acquired knowledge, the final exam also verifies to some extent students’ social competences. Detailed arrangements for the final exam are laid down at the level of an HEI and its basic organisational units. The final mark, which appears on the diploma, is determined by the mark for the final thesis which is assessed by the supervisor and reviewer, the mark for the final exam (during which a student may be asked questions about the thesis or other ones), and the average mark for the entire programme. The review of the thesis is multifaceted and covers elements such as:

  • relevance to the topic,
  • characteristics of the content arrangement,
  • use of references, indexes, etc.,
  • correctness in language,
  • general assessment of the content,
  • new approach to the issues addressed,
  • general assessment of the thesis based on the following grading scale: 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!.

The verification of learning outcomes ends with an overall mark which can be a pass/fail or a numeric mark from a set of possible marks (e.g. 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!).

In some cases, the procedure for the verification of learning outcomes provides for involvement of an external entity. This is the case especially in foreign language exams. For example, exams leading to PTE General certificates assess four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Such certificates:

  • provide the basis for exemption from a foreign language exam as part of the doctoral examination (Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 22 September 2011; Journal of Law 204, item 1200;
  • are recognised by the Ministry of National Education as evidence of the language skills required from those who intend to work as English language teachers (Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 17 April 2012; Journal of Law of 2012, item 426);
  • are recognised as evidence of English language skills by the Civil Service ( Regulation of the Prime Minister of 16 December 2009; Journal of Law 218, item 1695), and many employers in Poland and abroad.

In some cases, learning outcomes in a foreign language are verified externally, even though the learning process takes place within an HEI. It makes the assessment more objective. Moreover, if students fail to complete a semester or fail an exam, there are no grounds to claim that they have not been awarded credits for financial reasons (an additional fee to be charged from a student).

Certification

Second-cycle programmes offered by both university-type and non-university HEIs end with the final (diploma) examination egzamin dyplomowy), except in medical areas. It is conducted by an examination board composed of academic teachers of the organisational unit of a HEI (e.g. faculty or department) which provides the programme concerned.

Students who have passed the final exam are awarded a higher education diploma ( dyplom ukończenia studiów wyższych) which confirms the completion of a given programme and the award of the relevant degree in a given area. If a programme does not provide for the final examination, students are only required to have completed all courses and practical placements in order to obtain a diploma confirming the award of the relevant degree (the overall mark equals the average of all marks received as part of the programme). The same diplomas and degrees are awarded by university-type and non-university HEIs. Diplomas include obligatory elements defined in a regulation of the minister responsible for higher education and are officially recognised documents. At the graduate’s request, the HEI is required to issue a copy of the diploma in a foreign language.

The following types of Master’s degrees are awarded to students upon completion of second-cycle programmes (and long-cycle programmes):

  • magister: in the areas of humanities, natural sciences, incl. mathematics, economics, social sciences, law, medical areas (except medicine, dentistry, nursing and midwifery) and physical education;
  • magister inżynier: in the fields of engineering and technology (except architecture and urban planning), agriculture and other areas where 50% of courses cover engineering, technology, agriculture or forestry;
  • magister inżynier architekt: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Architecture;
  • magister inżynier pożarnictwa: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Safety Engineering provided at the Central School of Fire Service to those holding the degree of inżynier pożarnictwa;
  • magister pielęgniarstwa: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Nursing;
  • magister położnictwa: where a student has achieved the learning outcomes defined for a programme in the area of Midwifery.

A Master’s degree (magister) or equivalent degree entitles its holder to practise a given profession and provides access to third-cycle (doctoral) programmes.

Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Organisation of doctoral studies

Detailed organisational arrangements for third-cycle programmes are laid down by the Law on Higher Education and Science.

Doctoral programmes, offered by university-type HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs, prepare for the award of a doctoral degree (doktor ordoktor sztuki for fine arts) in the fields and disciplines listed below.

I. Field of science: Humanities

1. Archaeology

2. Philosophy

3. History

4. Language Studies

5. Literature Studies

6. Cultural and Religious Studies

7. Art Sciences

II. Field of science: Engineering and Technology

1. Architecture and Urban Planning

2. Automation Engineering, Electronic Engineering and Electric Engineering

3. Information Engineering and Telecommunications

4. Biomedical Engineering

5. Chemical Engineering

6. Civil Engineering and Transport Engineering

7. Materials Engineering

8. Mechanical Engineering

9. Environmental Engineering, Mining and Energy Engineering

III. Field of Science: Medical and Health Sciences

1. Pharmaceutical Sciences

2. Medical Sciences

3. Physical Culture Sciences

4. Health Sciences

IV. Field of Science: Agricultural Sciences

1. Forestry

2. Agriculture and Horticulture

3. Food and Nutrition Technology

4. Veterinary Science

5. Animal Husbandry and Fishery

V. Field of Science: Social Sciences

1. Economics and Finance

2. Social and Economic Geography, and Land Management

3. Security Studies

4. Social Communication and Media

5. Political Science and Administration

6. Management and Quality Sciences

7. Law

8. Sociology

9. Educational Sciences

10. Canon Law

11. Psychology

VI. Field of Science: Natural Sciences

1. Astronomy

2. Computer Science

3. Mathematics

4. Biological Sciences

5. Chemical Sciences

6. Physical Sciences

7. Earth and Environmental Sciences

VII. Field of Science: Theological Sciences

1. Theological Science

VIII. Field of Science: Arts

1. Theatre and Film Arts

2. Musicology

3. Plastic Arts and Art Conversation and Restoration

Doctoral programmes may also be provided in more than one discipline of science or arts.

Doctoral programmes / studies at doctoral schools, operating within HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs, last 3 to 4 years, the predominating model being a 4-year programme. At the doctoral student’s request, the head of a doctoral programme may extend the duration of study by up to 2 years in total, while exempting the student from attendance at classes, in case he/she should conduct research over a longer period of time (longitudinal study) as part of a doctoral programme. The exact duration of a doctoral programme is determined in regulations establishing a programme in a given unit of an HEI or other research institution.

Doctoral training is based on a curriculum and an individual research plan.

Curricula for doctoral programmes are developed by senates or research boards of doctoral schools in HEIs and other research institutions, and are approved by the authorities of a given institution. Curricula in both HEIs and other research institutions should specify the number of compulsory course hours to be attended, coursework to be completed and examinations to be passed in each year of study. In addition, doctoral students in HEIs may be required to teach courses (for a maximum of 60 hours) as part of their practical training.

In consultation with their dissertation supervisor(s), a doctoral student develops an individual research plan, which includes,in particular, a schedule for preparing the doctoral dissertation, and submits it to the entity operating a given doctoral school within 12 months of the starting date of the programme.

Admission requirements

Access to doctoral programmes, provided by both university-type HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs, is open toapplicants who hold a Master’s degree (magister) or an equivalent degree and fulfil admission requirements laid down by a given institution. Specific admission requirements are defined by the board of the organisational unit authorised to provide a doctoral programme in a given institution, and should be published not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

In exceptional cases, where this is justified by highest-quality research achievements, a doctoral degree may be conferred to a person who has completed a first-cycle programme or the third year of a long-cycle programme.

Status of doctoral students/candidates

The Law on Higher Education and Science defines a doctoral student as a participant in a doctoral programme / doctoral studies. Doctoral students have influence on study timetables and curricula of doctoral programmes through opinions given by the relevant doctoral student self-government body.

The basic duties of doctoral students include following the curriculum of a doctoral programme, conducting research and reporting on its progress. Doctoral students are also required to undertake practical training which involves teaching or participation in the teaching of classes . The maximum teaching load for a doctoral student is 60 class hours per year.

Doctoral students are entitled to holiday leave of up to 8 weeks in total per year, which should be taken in periods when no classes are taught. They are also covered by the national social security and health insurance schemes.

A doctoral student who does not hold a doctoral degree receives a doctoral scholarship; however, the maximum total period during which a student is eligible to receive it in a doctoral school is 4 years. A monthly doctoral scholarship amounts to at least 37% of the salary of a professor (until the month in which the interim assessment is conducted), and 57% of the salary of a professor (after the month in which the interim assessment is conducted). The amount of a doctoral scholarship may vary depending on the doctoral student’s achievements.

A doctoral student may also receive financial support in the form of a maintenance grant, aid payment, scholarship for learning achievements, meals grant, accommodation grant or a special grant for the disabled.

Supervision arrangements

Doctoral students are supervised by academic supervisors. Supervision may involve monitoring progress in the student’s research work and providing advice and guidelines on, for example, the preparation of the doctoral thesis and various aspects of research activity (publications, participation in conferences, etc.).

Employability

Many HEIs have established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland. Careers services collaborate with the National Labour Office. They provide information about jobs available to professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Students and graduates can also obtain information and guidance from careers advisors working in public employment services and private employment agencies on how to prepare a CV and a motivation letter, how to behave in an interview, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Pursuant to the 2011 amendments to the 2005 Law on Higher Education, HEIs are required to monitor graduates’ careers in order to adapt their programmes and curricula to the needs of the labour market. This should take place, in particular, 3 and 5 years after graduation.

Cooperation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

Assessment

Doctoral students in HEIs and other research institutions are required to attend courses and take examinations as specified in the doctoral study regulations, conduct research and submit reports on its progress, and prepare a doctoral dissertation. Doctoral students in HEIs are also required to teach classes in a given organisational unit of the HEI. Exams are conducted by the academic teacher (in HEIs) or research staff member (in other research institutions) responsible for a given course/type of classes. The progress in research and the preparation of a doctoral dissertation is assessed on an ongoing basis by the supervisor of a doctoral student (an academic teacher/researcher holding a post-doctoral degree / doktor habilitowany/ or a professorial title /profesor/ in a given or related area).

Additionally, the implementation of the student’s individual research plan is subject to an interim assessment conducted either at the mid-point of the training period as specified in a curriculum or during the 4th semester where the duration of a programme is 6 semesters. An interim assessment ends with a positive or negative outcome. The outcome and its justification are publicly available. An interim assessment is conducted by a board consisting of 3 members, incl. at least 1 member who holds a post-doctoral degree or professorial title in the discipline addressed by the doctoral dissertation concerned and is employed outside the entity operating a given doctoral school. The supervisor and the supporting supervisor may not be members of the board.

The teaching of classes by doctoral students in HEIs is assessed by the supervising academic teacher. Detailed arrangements are laid down in doctoral study regulations by the organisational unit in an HEI / research institution which provides a given doctoral programme.

Detailed arrangements for progression to the next semester / year of study and examinations are laid down in the doctoral study regulations by the unit of an HEI or other research institution which provides a given doctoral programme. In order to be admitted to the final stage leading to the award of a doctoral degree, applicants (students following a doctoral programme or other applicants as enrolment on a doctoral programme is not a precondition for the award of a degree) are required to pass the doctoral examination, conducted by the board of a given unit, and submit a doctoral dissertation.

A student enrolled on a doctoral programme may be struck from the register of doctoral students in case he/she has not passed exams specified by the curriculum, has made no progress in research or the preparation of the doctoral dissertation or has not submitted a report on the progress in his/her work/research. Such decisions are taken by the head of a given doctoral programme.

Certification

A doctoral degree (doktor or doktor sztuki for fine arts) may be awarded to a person who fulfils the following conditions:

  • holds a Master’s degree (magister) or an equivalent degree;
  • has achieved learning outcomes for a qualification at Level 8 of the Polish Qualifications Framework, with the learning outcomes for proficiency in a modern foreign language at B2 level confirmed by a certificate or a higher education diploma / degree;
  • has achievements which include at least:
    • 1 scientific paper published in a scientific journal or as part of peer-reviewed international conference proceedings which were included in the register of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in the year when the final version of the paper was published; or
    • 1 scientific monograph published by a publishing house which was included in the register of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in the year when the final version of the monograph was published, or a chapter in such a monograph; or
    • a significant artistic work;
  • has submitted and successfully defended a doctoral dissertation;
  • has fulfilled other requirements defined by the entity awarding a given degree.

A doctoral dissertation presents the candidate’s general theoretical knowledge in the discipline(s) concerned and ability to conduct independent research or artistic activity. A dissertation is devoted to an original solution to a research problem, an original solution where findings from the applicant’s own research are applied in the economic or social sphere, or an original artistic achievement. A dissertation can be a written work, including a scientific monograph, a collection of published and thematically related research papers, a project, design, engineering or artistic work, or an independent and separate part of a collective work.

Doctoral dissertation defence takes place in public, which means that any interested person can participate, aside from the examination board, the candidate’s academic supervisor and reviewers. An announcement about a forthcoming defence is usually published in advance, together with a summary and reviews of the dissertation. During a defence, the candidate presents key theses of his / her dissertation, and subsequently reviewers present their opinions and ask questions. This is followed by an open discussion in which any interested person can participate. After the defence, the board takes a decision to award (or refuse) a doctoral degree.

doctoral degree (or its equivalent in fine arts) is awarded in a given field and discipline of science. All proceedings leading to the award of a doctoral degree are conducted, and the degree is awarded, by the board of a doctoral school in an HEI or other research institution. A resolution awarding a doctoral degree becomes valid immediately after its adoption by the board.

The Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 21 September 2018 on doctoral diplomas, post-doctoral diplomas and the identify card of a doctoral student specifies the necessary elements of a doctoral diploma and a doctoral student’s identify card.

Organisational variations

A doctoral degree may also be conferred jointly by HEIs, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, research institutes or international institutes (international research institutes established in Poland by separate Acts of Parliament) in a discipline where each institution has the A+, A or B+ research rating. This includes foreign institutions which are authorised to award a doctoral degree in the discipline concerned. Collaboration arrangements are laid down in a written agreement.

Classes as part of doctoral programmes may be conducted using distance learning methods and techniques if the number of ECTS credits awarded for such classes is not higher than 50% of the total ECTS value of a programme. Additionally, the following requirements should be fulfilled:

  • teaching staff are trained to deliver distance learning classes / courses, and delivery is monitored by the HEI on an ongoing basis;
  • access to ICT facilities and software enables synchronous and asynchronous interaction between students and teachers;
  • teaching and learning materials in an electronic format are provided;
  • students have access to face-to-face tutorials / guidance sessions with academic staff and other staff conducting classes in the main campus or a branch campus of the HEI;
  • learning outcomes achieved by students are verified through ongoing monitoring of the progress made in learning, while exams and other forms of assessment at the end of a course / group of classes are conducted in the main campus or a branch campus of the HEI;
  • students have been trained to participate in such classes / courses.

Mobility in Higher Education

Student mobility

Students participate in mobility primarily within the EU Erasmus+ Programme, but there are also multilateral, bilateral and national programmes or projects. National initiatives are targeted at both Polish and international students. Within EU programmes, recognition of a study period or practical placement abroad is based on an agreement between the student and the sending and receiving higher education institutions (HEIs), and on the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation (ECTS). In other programmes, the sending and receiving HEIs agree arrangements for recognition. Degrees obtained abroad are recognised in accordance with the national legislation.

EU Programmes

The Erasmus+ Programme (2014-2020), administered by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, offers several mobility opportunities to students.

Within Erasmus+ Action 1, Learning Mobility, students may undertake a study period of 3 to 12 months or a practical placement of 2 to 12 months in an enterprise or another organisation abroad. These types of mobility take place within mobility projects, based on agreements between students’ home HEIs and host HEIs or other host organisations abroad.

Student mobility may also be part of two types of projects, Strategic Partnerships and Capacity Building in Higher Education, within Erasmus+ Action 2. In both cases, mobility is closely related to the objectives of a given project. Strategic Partnerships may include intensive programmes for students, with a duration of 5 days to 2 months (e.g. summer schools), and blended mobility, combining physical mobility (a short stay in another country) and virtual mobility (participation in virtual learning). Under Capacity Building in Higher Education projects, students participate in an international intensive programme or undertake a period of study or a practical placement abroad (between 2 weeks and 3 months).

Other EU-funded programmes / initiatives

Project ‘The Best of the Best’ (Najlepsi z najlepszych)

The project is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education as part of the Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development (Program Operacyjny Wiedza Edukacja Rozwój, PO WER) (2014-2020) (information available in Polish only). It supports research activities, innovativeness and creativity of outstandingly gifted Polish students in selected fields of study (humanities, social sciences, science and technology, and life sciences) by offering grants for their participation in international competitions, contests and conferences.  Grants are available to at least 130 students.

Programme ‘Poland My First Choice’

The Programme is part of the above-mentioned PO WER Programme (2014-2020). Scholarships are awarded to foreigners wishing to take a full second-cycle programme in Polish or a foreign language, in any field of study, at a public or non-public HEI supervised by the Minister of Science and Higher Education which has the A or A+ research category (one of the two highest ratings awarded as an outcome of a quality evaluation of research activity). Applications can be submitted by candidates from EU Member States, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Uruguay, Israel, Republic of Korea, Japan and Singapore, and by China’s nationals who are Hong Kong, Macau i Taiwan residents. The programme is operated by the National Agency for Academic Exchange.

Multilateral programmes

Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies, CEEPUS

CEEPUS is the first multilateral cooperation programme in the field of education in Central Europe, established by a multilateral agreement. Poland has taken part in the programme since 1994. The National Agency for Academic Exchange is the national contact point for the programme in Poland. The other participating countries are: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, and Kosovo. CEEPUS supports mainly the establishment of inter-university networks which provide joint programmes, in particular doctoral / third-cycle programmes, leading, insofar as possible, to joint degrees. Within this framework, it offers scholarships or ‘scholarship-months’ to students and academic teachers based on the principle that each country is required to fund at least 100 scholarship-months for inward mobility in each academic year.

International Visegrad Fund

The International Visegrad Fund was created in 2000 by the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary (V4 countries). Each of the four countries provides an equal contribution to the Fund. The Fund is also supported by other governments or government organisations, including Canada, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Currently, it aims to strengthen cooperation among the V4 countries and between the V4 Region and other countries, in particular in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership Region. The unit administering the Fund is situated in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The Fund awards grants for various projects and individual scholarships. The latter include scholarships for Master’s degree studies and post-Master (doctoral and post-doc) research stays (a maximum period of 4 semesters). Scholarships are available to students from the V4 countries, and Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

Bilateral programmes / initiatives

Bilateral agreements

Poland has signed bilateral agreements covering scholarship-based exchanges and / or recognition of qualifications with more than 40 countries. Aside from EU Member States, these include countries in Africa, North and South America and Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. As part of some agreements, the Government of Poland and / or the partner country offer(s) a number of scholarships to academic staff and students. Mobility arrangements are agreed with individual countries.

A full list of the agreements is available on the website of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (in Polish only) and in the database of treaties and agreements operated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Information about the institutions administering exchange programmes and conditions for participation is published on the website of the National Agency for Academic Exchange.

Bilateral scholarship programmes

Fulbright Programme

As part of the Fulbright Programme, the Polish-US Fulbright Commission offers scholarships for studies and research stays funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the US State Department. Scholarships are awarded to Polish students for the first year of a second- or third-cycle programme, with a possible extension for one year; Polish doctoral students for individual research projects (6 to 9 months) to be carried out at a higher education or another institution in the US; and to US students and doctoral students for degree programmes or research at Polish higher education or other research institutions (3 to 9 months).

Lane Kirkland Scholarship Programme

The Programme is funded by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, and administered by the Leaders of Change Foundation. Scholarships for 2-semester studies at Polish HEIs are currently awarded to young leaders and experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Studies are intended to improve their knowledge and skills related to the development of democracy, economy and civic society.

National programmes / initiatives

As part of its statutory responsibilities, the National Agency for Academic Exchange manages a number of programmes for Polish doctoral students and international students / other non-Polish nationals.

The Iwanowska Programme

The Programme aims to increase international mobility of Polish doctoral students. Scholarships are available to individuals preparing a doctoral dissertation in any area of science or fine arts. They are awarded for scientific research to be conducted or teaching assignments (for a period of 6 to 12 months) to be undertaken at institutions across the world, and for research projects to be carried out jointly with outstanding international scholars.

The Gen. Anders Programme

The Programme is targeted at young people of Polish origin, holding the so-called Card of the Pole, who passed the maturity exam / secondary school leaving exam or completed a first-cycle programme not longer than two years ago.  Applications can be submitted by young people from the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Latvia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia,  Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United States and Uzbekistan, and countries in South America, Latin America and Africa. Scholarship holders follow a full degree programme in Polish (except in the so-called Foreign Philology Studies or Foreign Language and Literature Studies, e.g. English or German Language and Literature Studies) at HEIs supervised by the Ministers of Science and Higher Education, Health and Culture and National Heritage. Before taking a first- or long-cycle programme, students can also improve their knowledge of the Polish language and bridge gaps in knowledge in core / major subjects as part of a year-long preparatory course.

The S. Banach Scholarship Programme

The Programme, designed jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of Poland’s development aid, aims to support socio-economic development of developing countries. It is open to nationals of countries in several regions, including the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia). Applicants may choose a second-cycle programme in engineering and technology, science, natural or agricultural sciences, offered in the Polish language, at public HEIs which are supervised by the Minister of Science and Higher Education. Scholarships holders are required to attend a one-month language-and-adaptation course or a one-year preparatory where they can improve their knowledge of the Polish language and bridge gaps in knowledge in core / major subject subjects.

The I. Łukasiewicz Scholarship Programme

Like the S. Banach Programme, the Programme was designed jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of Poland’s development aid and aims to support socio-economic development of developing countries. It is targeted at applicants from selected countries in Latin America (Columbia, Mexico, Peru), Africa (Angola, Ethiopia. Kenia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda) and Asia (India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Myanmar, Palestine, Philippines and Vietnam). Scholarship holders can take a second-cycle programme in engineering and technology, science, natural or agricultural sciences, offered in the Polish language at HEIs which are supervised by the Minister of Science and Higher Education. Like in the programmes presented above, scholarships holders are required to attend a preparatory course before taking up studies.

Other useful information

Information on the higher education system, programmes and scholarships offered, and practical information about Poland can be found in the above-mentioned ‘Ready, Steady, Go Poland’ Portal, operated by the National Agency for Academic Exchange.

Foreigners / non-Polish nationals may enrol on and follow first-, second- and long-cycle programmes, non-degree postgraduate programmes and specialist programmes, take up and pursue studies at doctoral schools and participate in other forms of education and training in accordance with the Law on Higher Education and Science of 20 July 2018. The basis for admission and participation may be provided by an international agreement concluded between a Polish HEI and a foreign institution; a decision of the Minister or the Director of the National Agency for Academic Exchange (for scholarship holders; a decision of the Director of the National Science Centre awarding a grant for basic research; or an administrative decision of the Rector of an HEI or the Head of another research institution. Detailed arrangements are laid down in individual agreements and decisions.

Public HEIs do not charge tuition fees for full-time first-, second or long-cycle programmes, and for third-cycle / doctoral programmes or studies at doctoral schools. However, they may charge tuition fees from non-Polish students taking a first-, second or long-cycle programme in the Polish language, and fees for the following education services: part-time first-, second or long-cycle programmes; classes / courses repeated due to unsatisfactory learning achievements; programmes delivered in a foreign language; and classes / courses which are not part of a curriculum. Public HEIs may also charge fees for non-degree postgraduate programmes, specialist programmes or other forms of education and training.

HEIs may waive tuition fees charged from non-Polish students taking a programme delivered in Polish or a foreign language and fees for classes / course repeated by non-Polish students due to unsatisfactory learning achievements. Such arrangements are laid down by an international agreement concluded between HEIs / institutions, a decision of the Rector of an HEI or the Head of a research institution, or a decision of the Minister or the Director of the National Agency for Academic Exchange (for scholarship holders).

Tuition fees are not charged from non-Polish students taking a full-time programme in the Polish language who:

  • are nationals of EU Member States, EFTA / EEA Member States or Switzerland, or members of their families, residing in Poland;
  • are EU long-term residents or hold a permanent residence permit;
  • hold a temporary residence permit issued in accordance with the rules laid down by the Act on Foreigners of 12 December 2013;
  • have the status of refugee granted in Poland or have been granted temporary or subsidiary protection in Poland;
  • hold a certificate of proficiency in the Polish language as a foreign language at least at the C1 level, issued by the State Committee for Certification of Proficiency in the Polish Language as a Foreign Language;
  • hold a Card of the Pole or an appropriate document confirming Polish origin;
  • are spouses, ascendants or descendants of a Polish national who reside in Poland.

Non-Polish nationals listed under points 2 to 7 may receive student maintenance grants and student credits as part of financial support. All non-Polish nationals are eligible to apply for other types of financial support.  These include the Rector’s scholarship; a scholarship for people with disabilities; an aid payment; a scholarship funded by a local government body; a scholarship for learning or sporting achievements funded by a natural person or a corporate body which is not administered by a state or local-government body; and the Minister’s scholarship.

Academic staff mobility

Mobility of Polish academic staff to European countries supports the implementation of the Bologna Process insofar as the activities undertaken abroad are aimed at improving the quality of education and developing new study programmes in Polish higher education institutions (HEIs). As mentioned above, internationalisation is now an integral part of the Government’s Strategy for Responsible Development and one of the key aspects of mandatory programme evaluations / accreditation reviews conducted by the Polish Accreditation Committee.

HEIs provide information on staff mobility in their annual reports for the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The Foundation for the Development of the Education System produces various statistical and / or analytical materials on the implementation of the EU programmes which it manages. However, there are no aggregate or summary studies on the impact of all programmes and initiatives supporting academic staff mobility.

There are no national regulations on the recognition of mobility periods for academic staff. However, HEIs are required by national legislation to conduct a periodic appraisal of academic staff as part of internal quality assurance. Detailed performance assessment criteria are laid down by individual institutions within their autonomy. International experience such as visits, exchange, participation in Erasmus+ projects, etc. may be taken into consideration in periodic appraisal of academic staff and in the assessment of their achievements for academic career progression.

Like in the case of students, the EU Erasmus+ Programme is currently the main programme in terms of the number of outgoing and incoming teachers, but mobility opportunities are also offered by other multilateral, bilateral and national programmes or initiatives.

EU Programmes

The Erasmus+ Programme (2014-2020), administered in Poland by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, supports academic staff mobility as part of both Learning Mobility projects in Action 1 and three types of projects in Action 2: Strategic Partnerships, Knowledge Alliances and Capacity Building in Higher Education.

In Action 1 Learning Mobility projects, teachers can choose between teaching assignments which are an integral part of study programmes at HEIs abroad and training periods at institutions or enterprises abroad (e.g. training courses, workshops, job shadowing, etc.). A mobility period can have a duration of 2 days (5 days in the case of so-called Partner Countries) to 2 months.

Mobility in Action 2 projects is closely linked to the objectives of a given project. In Strategic Partnerships, teachers may undertake teaching assignments abroad (2 to 12 months), participate in a short-term training event (3 days to 2 months) or an intensive programme for students (5 days to 2 months). As part for Knowledge Alliances, grants are available for mobility periods of 2 to 60 days. In Capacity Building projects, teachers can go abroad for up to 3 months to teach classes, modernise a curriculum or undertake training at an HEI or a practical placement in a company, enterprise or another organisation. They may also participate in workshops and visits aimed at dissemination of a project’s outcomes.

Mobility opportunities are also offered to academic teachers by the Horizon 2020 Programme, but this is research rather than learning mobility. Detailed information is available on the main website of the Programme and the website of the Horizon 2020 National Contact Point in Poland. Furthermore, research scholarships are awarded by the European University Institute in Florence.

Other EU-funded programmes / initiatives

Project ‘Masters of Teaching’ (Mistrzowie dydaktyki)

The project (2017-2022) (information in Polish only) is co-funded by the European Social Fund and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education as part of the above-mentioned Operational Programme Knowledge Education Development (PO WER). Funding is available for the development and implementation of a model for tutoring, and study visits and training for staff from Polish HEIs, as part of collaboration with international HEIs which are among the top 100 of the Shanghai Academic Ranking.

Multilateral programmes

Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies (CEEPUS) and International Visegrad Fund.

Bilateral programmes / initiatives

Fulbright Programme

The Fulbright Programme mentioned above offers scholarships to Polish and American academic staff. Polish academic staff can carry out teaching assignments and / or research work (3 to 9 months) at US higher education or other institutions. Academic staff who specialise in culture and history of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe can be awarded a scholarship for a teaching assignment in one of the US HEIs which collaborate with the Polish-US Fulbright Commission. Researchers representing the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) can apply for scholarships (14 to 42 days) for teaching-and-research projects (lectures, seminars, workshops; development of a curriculum or teaching materials) or research projects carried out at US higher education or other institutions. US academic staff can be awarded scholarships for teaching assignments or research work at a Polish higher education or research institution (4 to 9 months). Moreover, scholarships are available to recent US graduates for English-language assistantships or teaching at Polish HEIs.

Other scholarship programmes

The Foundation for Polish Science manages a number of programmes, funded from various sources, which offer, among other things, scholarships to academic staff at various stages of their research career, e.g. junior researchers and outstanding researchers with documented achievements.

National programmes / initiatives

Mobility Plus (Mobilność Plus)

The Mobility Plus Programme (information in Polish only), launched by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in 2012, provides opportunities for junior researchers (aged up to 35 years), including PhD students, to participate in research conducted at renowned international research institutions. Scholarships are awarded for a period of 6 to 36 months.

Programmes managed by the National Agency for Academic Exchange

As part of its statutory responsibilities, the National Agency for Academic Agency currently operates three programmes for Polish academic staff, including the Bekker Programme, the Walczak Programme and Polish Returns. It also intends to launch the Ulama Scholarship Programme for international researchers who are non-Polish nationals. Scholarships for a period of 6 to 24 months will be awarded to researchers who wish to conduct research, undertake a post-doctoral placement, collect materials for research or a research publication, or undertake teaching assignments at HEIs and other research institutions in Poland.

  • The Bekker Programme (Program im. Bekkera)

The Programme supports Polish academic teachers and researchers in seeking research excellence. Applicants can represent any area of science. Scholarships are awarded for post-doctoral placements, research or development work and collection of materials for research at academic and research institutions across the world. Projects may have a duration of 3 to 24 months in the case of young researchers and 3 to 12 months in the case of other academic staff.  Mobility will start between 1 March and 30 September 2020.

  • The Walczak Programme (Program im. Walczaka)

The Programme, developed jointly by the National Agency and the Ministry of Health, aims to support professional development of Polish academic staff in the areas of cardiology, oncology, allergology and infectious diseases. Applications can be submitted by staff working at HEIs, institutes or teaching hospitals who hold at least a doctoral degree or have initiated the process leading to the award of a doctoral degree, conduct research in the Programme’s areas and are fluent in English. Grants are awarded for stays of 3 to 6 months at best medical centres in the United States.

  • Polish Returns (Polskie Powroty)

The Programme aims to encourage outstanding Polish scholars working abroad to return to Poland and take up work at HEIs or other research institutions here. Returning scholars can set up their own project team or join an ongoing research project. Grants are available for 3- to 4-year projects and cover the salaries of a returning scholar and their project team, and the costs of resettlement and adaptation at the new workplace for the returning scholar.

Other useful information

Euraxess: European and Polish network of information centres for researchers

The Euraxess Network offers support in various legal and administrative matters related to international mobility of researchers. It publishes job offers, and information about grants and internships available in all European countries.

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European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.