12.07.2017 change 12.07.2017

Gowin: The law on higher education is being prepared in a broad dialogue with the community

PAP © 2017 / Marcin Obara PAP © 2017 / Marcin Obara

Approx. 7 thousand people have already taken part in the debates on the new law on universities - Minister of Science Jarosław Gowin said on Wednesday at a parliamentary committee meeting. He added that he had more than 100 meetings as part of the discussion on the new law.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin took part in a meeting of the Sejm Committee for Education in Science and Youth last Wednesday and summarized the work on the new Law on Higher Education, so-called Law 2.0.

The Minister reminded that the starting point for the dialogue on the new law on higher education was a competition in which three expert teams independently prepared reform concepts. At the same time, the ministry, he said, "inspired a series of conferences devoted to the problems of Polish science and higher education". Gowin announced that the conclusion of this "pluralist dialogue" will be the National Congress of Science, scheduled for September 19-20 in Kraków.

Deputy Prime Minister reported that about 7 thousand people participated in a dozen different debates - not just those organized by his ministry. He added that during the discussion on the new law he attended over 100 meetings - also with groups representative for the academic community or prominent scientists. He expressed the hope that the widest possible consensus on the bill could be worked out.

"This is a model of working on a bill that should be a model for all of us, also in other areas" - he said.

"Polish science needs deep, serious reforms, discussed with the community and accepted. It also needs long-term stability" - Gowin said.

Jacek Kurzępa (PiS) thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for his "juicy dialogue with the community" and remarked: "I consider this social experiment very valuable". On the other hand, Rafał Grupiński (PO) warned against excessive optimism, because the bill was not yet ready. He reminded the called unfavourable, in his opinion, changes in research institutes introduced during this term. According to the provisions introduced this year, the minister has the power to appoint and dismiss the director of a research institute without the participation of the scientific council and without a competition.

Representatives of the scientific community participated in the meeting. President of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (CRASP) Prof. Jan Schmidt, speaking about the ministry\'s preparations for the reform, said: "I do not remember such discussions in the community and I have been working in the profession for more than 40 years". He added that CRASP was involved in drafting the bill and appointed a panel of experts to work out solutions to support the reform. "A number of (our - PAP) solutions have been approved" - he said.

President of the National Representation of Doctoral Students Michał Gajda also spoke during the meeting. He reported that the ministry was also discussing the new law on universities with doctoral students. "We are glad that our voice was heard" - he remarked. He added that this was consistent with the ministry\'s plans.

Chairman of the Central Council for Science and Higher Education, Prof. Jerzy Woźnicki also voiced his support for the way the reform was being prepared. The President of the Parliament of the Students of the Republic of Poland Tomasz Tokarski expressed the hope that the new law would address the needs of the young generation. "We are pleased that most of our demands have been accepted by the ministry" - he said.

Not everyone shared their enthusiasm for the reform. Member of the National Development Council Aleksander Temkin from the Crisis Committee of Polish Humanities (KKHP) said: "I would like it to be noted that a large part of the scientific community is concerned about, on the one hand, the centralization of the higher education system, on the other hand, the constraints of university self-government". He expressed regret that the KKHP community was completely ignored in the preparations for the National Congress of Science. "The ministry selected comfortable discussion partners" he said and added: "It was a comedy of consultations". He also pointed out that for the last two years the committee\'s representatives had not been not invited to discussions at the ministry.

Ludwika Tomala (PAP)

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