Three teams of experts, which prepared proposals of assumptions for the new Law on Higher Education, presented them on Wednesday at Warsaw University of Technology. The new law will first and foremost benefit students - declared the Minister of Science Jarosław Gowin.
In 2016, Ministry of Science and Higher Education decided that a completely new law was needed - the Law on Higher Education - which regulates the functioning of Polish universities, called the Law 2.0. At the end of May 2016, Ministry of Science selected three independent research teams in a competition. The teams received grants to prepare and consult the assumptions for the new Law. At the end of January they submitted their projects to the Ministry of Science.
On Wednesday at Warsaw University of Technology, heads of the three expert teams presented the results of their work. The projects were presented by: Prof. Hubert Izdebski from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Prof. Marek Kwiek from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and De. Arkadiusz Radwan - President of the Allerhand Institute.
"These projects are full of very interesting inspirations. Certainly very controversial. The least controversial thing to do would be to maintain the status quo, but that it would mean consenting to the marginalisation of Polish science and Polish universities. These three presentations were the beams of light directed into the future" - said the Minister of Science and Higher Education.
According to the minister, the model of science and higher education introduced after 1989 has exhausted its potential. "The changes should be evolutionary and spread over the years, but crucial aspects have to change so that it all can go a new way. (...) We need to find such Archimedean points that will shake the foundations of the world of Polish science, push this science towards development" - said Gowin. "It has to be a law that will serve not us politicians, not faculty, not the university administration, but first and foremost students, their best possible education, preparation for entering the labour market, their formation" - he said.
Although the three teams that have worked on the principles of the new law on higher education have different approaches to changes, their programs do have common points. Experts agree, for example, that university authorities should be able to manage more efficiently and that the scale of recruitment for doctoral studies should not be so massive.
"My dream is a system of science and higher education, which is ordered, which resembles most Western European systems, in which continuous, permanent changes are not necessary" - said Prof. Marek Kwiek. "The most important element of our proposal would be raising the level of academic learning and higher education as a more attractive place to work for staff focused on research" - said the professor.
Among the main proposals of Prof. Kwiek's team is the postulate of division of higher education into three groups: research, teaching, and research and teaching. The division would depend on the university's strategy and the quality of conducted research. Prof. Kwiek's proposals also include strengthening the role of the Rector and changing the way rectors are elected. Poznań team also proposes that universities should have boards of trustees with representatives of external stakeholders. They would, however, have only strategic and supervisory functions. According to Prof. Kwiek's team, university professorship should be abolished and the role of people who have reached the age of 70 should be limited at universities.
Prof. Hubert Izdebski's team is also in favour of the idea to divide universities into three groups. In addition, they believe that two categories of doctorate should be created - professional doctorate and academic doctorate. Habilitation would not be necessary to achieve scientific independence. Prof. Izdebski's team also proposes the division of fields of study into: regulated fields (educating people who will perform, for example, professions of public trust), university fields (today general academic) and unregulated fields. The proposals also include the creation of mechanisms of consolidation of public universities and merging the Central Committee for Degrees and Titles and the Committee for Evaluation of Scientific Units.
"The aim of the new law should be to increase productivity, understood as a transition from focusing on quantity to focusing on quality" - said Prof. Izdebski. He noted that the implementation of his team's proposals would require amending at least 34 other laws in addition to the Law on Higher Education and the Law on Scientific Degrees and Titles.
The third project - prepared by the team of Dr. Arkadiusz Radwan - envisages that the only academic degree awarded in the new system whould be the doctoral degree, whose rank would be raised to the level of habilitation. This means that "professor" would cease to be a scientific title and become a job description. The proposals of the team include separation of governmental authority at universities between two positions: rector and president. Rector - representative of the employees - would be selected by the senate. President - who would have executive authority - would be selected by a new body - the board of trustees.
"We need to improve the quality of research; improve the international competitiveness of Polish science; qualitatively and quantitatively improve the contribution of science to the economy, society and public institutions" - Dr. Arkadiusz Radwan said on Wednesday. "We also need to create a competitive university market. It should lead to a more efficient allocation of funds (for science - PAP)" - he added.
Based on the results of the three teams the Ministry of Science will prepare the new bill. It will be presented in September at the National Congress of Science in Kraków. Details of the proposals of three teams are available on the website of the Ministry of Science.
PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
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