29.08.2016 change 29.08.2016

Gowin on the drop of Polish universities in the rankings: We need systemic changes

Jagiellonian University and the University of Warsaw dropped this year to the fifth hundred of the Shanghai Ranking of the world\'s best universities. Minister of science Jarosław Gowin commented in an interview with PAP that higher education in Poland needs systemic changes.

One of the most prestigious rankings of universities in the world - the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai Ranking, - lists the best 500 universities. Only two Polish universities are included: the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University. This year, however, both universities recorded a noticeable position drop. For more than a decade both the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian had places in the fourth hundred of the ranking. This year they took places in the last, fifth hundred of the ranking.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Science and Higher Education Jarosław Gowin noted in an interview with PAP that the best Polish universities have been dropping in the ranking for years. "That does not mean that there is nothing positive at these universities and that they do not develop, it means that the world leaves us behind" - he believes. He recalled the reforms of higher education system in the years of 2011 and 2014. In his view, however, "an attempt to repair the current system leads nowhere; we are still losing distance".

"We have to end the equalisation when it comes to financing universities. We have to select a group of research universities that focus not on mass education, but rather on the elite education and research" - argued Gowin.

He explained, however, that the position of Polish universities in the future ranking will depend on the new law on higher education. Work on the assumptions of the so-called Law 2.0 is carried out independently by three research teams selected in the competition of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and will be completed in January 2017. "I am aware that this law must include proposals for profound changes" - minister said.

Simulations performed by the Ministry of Science show that the consolidation of Polish universities may only slightly increase the positions of the Polish universities in the Shanghai Ranking. According to the Ministry of Science data, even if the University of Warsaw would merge with Warsaw University of Technology and the Medical University of Warsaw, the new university would advance only to the third hundred of the world ranking. The simulation shows that the key would be the merger of the University of Warsaw and Warsaw University of Technology (consolidation only of the University of Warsaw and the Medical University of Warsaw would not change much). "University resulting from a hypothetical merger of the University Wroclaw and Wroclaw University of Technology would have a great potential, it would probably be in the first five of the Shanghai Ranking" - reads the analysis of the Ministry of Science, provided to PAP. Such potential would be out of reach of hypothetical consolidations of the universities in Poznań, Lublin, or the AGH University of Science and Technology and Krakow and Cracow University of Technology.

"Consolidation is needed anyway. But not from the point of view of the Shanghai Ranking and other rankings, but from the point of view of rationalization of spending and more importantly - from the point of view of combining the scientific potential" - commented Jarosław Gowin. In his opinion, the consolidation could eventually further improve the position of universities in the rankings. "If groups of scientists scattered over various universities work together, it will certainly result in a scientific achievements that will improve the opinion on Polish science" - the minister noted.

The Shanghai Ranking is compiled based on several indicators. Factors taken into account include the number of graduates or employees who have received the Nobel Prize or Fields Medal, the number of the most frequently cited researchers, the number of publications in journals "Nature" and "Science", the number of publications listed in the selected citation indexes (Science Citation Index - Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index). The size of achievements is evaluated in relation to the size of the university.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ludwika Tomala

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