03.11.2017 change 06.11.2017

OECD and EC report: It is good that Polish universities support innovative activities

Polish universities support innovation and engage in business partnerships, but entrepreneurship courses are offered mainly as extra-curricular activities - according to the OECD and the European Commission\'s report on entrepreneurship in higher education.

The report on academic entrepreneurship, prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission (EC), was presented Thursday at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Łukasz Szumowski, OECD representative Joaquim Oliveira Martins, EC representative Peter Baur and representatives of the academic community.

Joaquim Oliveira Martins emphasised during the meeting that the successful implementation of the entrepreneurial program requires a strong commitment from scientists and academics. He added that students also need an incentive: support for entrepreneurial activity and some form of recognition for the skills they acquire while engaging in this activity.

According to the report, innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives are being developed at many Polish universities. The OECD and the EC assess that the trend of increasing pro-innovation activities seen in the last decade is "promising" - but innovation support requires greater investments from both universities and the government.

The OECD and the EC also point out that Polish universities are expanding their offer of entrepreneurial education primarily on the basis of European Structural Funds, available only for a limited time. "This is a challenge when trying to create sustainable initiatives" - the authors write.

University relations with the socio-economic environment are also problematic: at this point they are primarily personal. The OECD and the EC postulate that universities should strengthen the institutional nature of contacts with the business sector and local governments.

The report also stresses that although most Polish universities offer entrepreneurship courses, the classes should be more interdisciplinary. In addition, these courses are mainly extra-curricular activities. These initiatives are, however, very popular - as the OECD and the EC point out, students\' business clubs have many members.

Internationalisation of Polish higher education also requires improvement. The OECD and the EC recommend creating a new international exchange program for university staff that would benefit from the experience gained during the already completed Top 500 Innovators program of the Ministry of Science and help maintain contacts between former program participants and foreign researchers.

The report "Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Poland" was created as a result of a two-year study in the years 2015-2016. The report identifies the strengths of Polish higher education, includes recommendations and points to good practices.

The OECD and EC report was based on two study visits in seven Polish universities (Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw School of Economics, Kozminski University, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Gdansk University of Technology, University of Gdansk, the State University of Applied Sciences in Elbląg), answers to questionnaires sent to all Polish universities and questionnaires addressed to students of universities participating in the review.

Answers to the first questionnaire were given by 39 higher education institutions, and to the second questionnaire by almost 2.3 thousand students. The report also includes materials collected in the national report prepared by Dr. Marcin Forkiewicz from Gdansk University of Technology. During the study visits, representatives of the OECD also met with representatives of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland, the National Centre for Research and Development, Polish Accreditation Committee, Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, local authorities, academic business incubators and technology parks.

As the Ministry of Science emphasises in the press release, the new higher education law, which the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin presented at the National Congress of Science in Kraków in September, addresses most of the OECD recommendations, among other things by enhancing the didactic path of academic career development, strengthening practical education and the participation of representatives of the environment in the university management. (PAP)

author: Katarzyna Florencka

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