Poland preps int’l ed strategy following election
A long-awaited international strategy is on the horizon for education in Poland, but how might it tie in with the next government after a hard fought election?
The national agency for academic exchange in Poland met in October to discuss a new national strategy for the “internationalisation of science and higher education”.
“Increasing the level of internationalisation of the Polish academic sector will only be possible when all institutions involved in this process – e.g. universities, conferences of rectors, representative organisations and associations operating in the higher education sector will cooperate for international mobility,” said the country’s deputy minister for education and science, Tomasz Rzymkowski at the meeting.
He added that the ministry itself, and the national agency for academic exchange NAWA would naturally be heavily involved in increasing international mobility.
NAWA has been a mainstay for European research exchange in past years, but it was stressed in this meeting that the work on comprehensive internationalisation was just beginning.
“In January we will start in full swing: there will be study visits, analyses and research, and meetings of working groups.
“I am convinced that the national internationalisation strategy will be a real tool for changing the academic reality, a conscious and consistent path that Polish education deserves,” said NAWA’s director general, Dawid Kostecki.
“Such a strategy should have been created long ago, at least a decade or 15 years ago when the process of internationalisation of Polish higher education started,” a spokesperson from Think Poland, a leading agency attracting overseas students to the country, told The PIE.
“In our opinion, the Polish higher education sector becomes more and more internationalised because of different initiatives undertaken by various institutions independently, however they are not properly coordinated and implemented as a long-term strategy,” they noted.
All this talk came days before a general election in October, which showed a big swing towards the opposition.
Former European Council president, Donald Tusk, leads Civic Coalition, which is aiming to form a coalition that would oust the current right-wing Law and Justice from power – which Rzymkowski represents.
This is despite a delay by the president Andrzej Duda, who nominates the prime minister, allowing a new government to be formed, citing that he didn’t want to “shorten” the ruling party’s term. It may be mid November before Tusk can take power.
But it remains to be seen what a looming change in government may mean for this internationalisation strategy.
“We also think that this kind of strategy should be a part of a broader migration policy”
“The newly formed government will presumably want to keep implementing a similar policy, including opening up to the internationalisation of the Polish universities, but in a thoughtful manner,” the Think Poland spokesperson noted.
“We also think that this kind of strategy should be a part of a broader migration policy, which Poland does not have at the moment – it would allow Poland to promote specific fields of study related to the job market needs.”
The strategy being built by NAWA is currently in its infant stages but has already outlined key recommendations to implement in the strategy.
They include maintaining international standards and obtaining foreign accreditations for Polish universities, looking into digital mobility as a new form of internationalisation and getting students and doctoral candidates into internships both at home and abroad.
One thing that isn’t explicitly mentioned is more structured policies on recruiting international degree students.
“An international student undertaking a degree program includes the entire process, from the ability to find out about a particular program, through the application process for the degree program, to the time of study itself and the opportunities that are made available to the student after graduation.
“If the strategy is to translate the time of study in Poland into opportunities for employment or further academic development, then definitely the strategy must take into account all elements of that process.”
The other key point the fledgling strategy is acquiring the best talents from abroad for the labour market through the internationalisation process.
But if Poland is to remain attractive, more communication is needed between the education sector and the labour market, according to Think Poland.
“Poland should be promoted as a place where higher education is affordable and up to the mark, but at the same time the quality of life and employment opportunities are as good as in western Europe.
“Many international students get employed after graduation, so finding a job is relatively easy, even in an English-speaking environment. This message should be conveyed to the potential candidates,” the spokesperson said.