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Poland Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in Poland
Admissions to Higher Education in Poland
Types of Higher Education Institutions in Poland
Cycles of Higher Education in Poland
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions


Teacher training colleges, foreign language teacher training colleges and colleges of social work

Teacher training colleges (kolegium nauczycielskie), foreign language teacher training colleges (nauczycielskie kolegium języków obcych) and colleges of social work (kolegium pracowników służb społecznych) are classified as tertiary education institutions (ISCED 5B) for international comparisons, but are not recognised as HEIs in the national legislation. They operate on the basis of the legislation concerning school education and form part of the school education system. Teacher training colleges and foreign language teacher training colleges have existed since 1990, whereas first colleges of social work were established in 2005. In the academic year 2009/10, there were 18 public teacher training colleges, 71 public foreign language teacher training colleges and 13 public colleges of social work.

All three types of college provide 3-year programmes leading to a diploma. The first two types specialise in teacher training, and thus are also referred to in the legislation as “initial teacher training institutions”. The third type specialises in the training of social workers.

The first two types are established and administered by local government bodies, whereas the third type is established and administered by the local government body at the province (województwo) level. The establishment of a public college requires a favourable opinion to be given by the minister responsible for school education in the case of teacher training colleges and foreign language teacher training colleges or the minister responsible for social security in the case of colleges of social work.

All types of college are supervised academically by an HEI which offers programmes leading to a Master's degree (magister) in the field of study corresponding to the specialisation field in a given college. Detailed arrangements concerning such academic supervision are laid down in an agreement obligatorily concluded between the body administering a given college and a given HEI. Moreover, pedagogical supervision is exercised by the minister responsible for school education in the case of teacher training colleges and foreign language teacher training colleges, and by the head of the regional education authorities (kurator oświaty) in a given province (województwo) in the case of colleges of social work.

Higher education institutions

Until recently, HEIs were divided into higher education schools (szkoła wyższa) and schools of higher vocational education (wyższa szkoła zawodowa). They were established and operated on the basis of separate legislation (1990 Higher Education Act, and 1997 Act on Schools of Higher Vocational Education respectively). The 2005 Law on Higher Education, which repealed the legislation previously in force, distinguishes university HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa).

A university-type HEI is a HEI in which at least one organisational unit (e.g. faculty) is authorised to award doctoral degrees (doktor). This institution may provide first-cycle programmes leading to a Bachelor's degree (licencjat or inżynier) and/or second-cycle or long-cycle programmes leading to a Master's degree (magister) (ISCED 5A), and doctoral programmes (ISCED 6).

A non-university HEI is an HEI which, like a university-type HEI, provides first-cycle, second-cycle and/or long-cycle programmes, but is not authorised to award doctoral degrees (doktor) or provide doctoral (third-cycle) programmes. This type of institutions includes HEIs referred to as schools of higher vocational education (wyższa szkoła zawodowa) which are authorised to provide only first-cycle degree programmes.

In order to be authorised to provide first-, second- and/or long-cycle programmes (ISCED 5A), university-type and non-university HEIs are required to comply with the same requirements laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of Higher Education and Science of 5 October 2011 on the conditions for the provision of degree programmes in a given field and level of study. The regulation lays down:

1. Requirements concerning the programme of study and description of first and second cycle qualifications;

2. Requirements to be fulfilled by organizational units of HEIs in order to provide degree programmes in a given field and at a given level of study including minimum number and qualifications of academic staff as well as the minimum staff resources – student ratio for particular fields of study;

3. Detailed requirements concerning the organization and operation of affiliated units of HEIs.

The minimum staff resources are defined for individual fields of study or groups of fields of study. For example: at least 6 academic teachers with research achievements in the area of philology, including at least 2 with a professorial title or a post-doctoral degree and at least 4 with a doctoral degree for the field of philology; at least 2 academic teachers with a professorial title or a post-doctoral degree and at least 3 with a doctoral degree and scientific or artistic achievements in relevant areas for the fields of archaeology, ethnology, history of art, culture studies, musicology, cultural heritage protection, and papermaking and printing. The ratios of academic staff to students are defined for groups of fields of study. At present, the ratios may not be lower than (the ratios to be respected as from October 2007):

• 1:25 for arts;

• 1:160 for humanities;

• 1: 160 for social sciences;

• 1:60 for engineering and technology,

• 1:60 for mathematics

• 1:60 for natural sciences;

• 1:60 for agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine;

• 1:60 for medical areas, except for medicine and dentistry and physical education for which the ratio may not be lower than 1:40;

• 1:50 for foreign languages

Second-cycle and long-cycle programmes may be provided by organisational units of university-type and non-university HEIs which comply with the requirements listed above for first-cycle programmes and which conduct research in the discipline or area related to a given field of study. However, the minimum staff resources for second-cycle and long-cycle programmes include a larger number of the academic staff holding a professorial title and a post-doctoral or doctoral degree than for first-cycle programmes. The required ratios of academic staff to students are the same as for first-cycle programmes (see: above).

In order to provide doctoral programmes, organisational units of university-type HEIs must be authorised to award either post-doctoral degrees or doctoral degrees in at least two different disciplines of a given area of science. Such authorisations are granted by the Central Commission for Academic Degrees on the basis of the quality of research and the number of staff holding a professorial title or a post-doctoral degree, after consultation with the General Council for Higher Education. An organisational unit of a university-type HEI is required to have 8 or 12 staff members with a professorial title or a post-doctoral degree in order to be authorised to award doctoral degrees or post-doctoral degrees respectively.

In the academic year 2011/12, Poland had a total number of 460 HEIs, including 132 public institutions. The following types of HEIs may be currently distinguished (according to the Central Statistical Office):

• universities (uniwersytety) (19),

• technical HEIs (wyższe szkoły techniczne) (25),

• agricultural HEIs (wyższe szkoły rolnicze) (7),

• HEIs for Economics (wyższe szkoły ekonomiczne) (77),

• pedagogical HEIs (wyższe szkoły pedagogiczne) (17),

• medical universities/academies (akademie medyczne) (9),

• schools/universities of maritime studies (wyższe szkoły morskie) (2),

• universities/academies of physical education (akademie wychowania fizycznego) (6),

• schools/academies of art studies (wyższe szkoły artystyczne) (23),

• theological HEIs (14)

• military higher education institutions (uczelnie wojskowe) (5),

• government service higher education institutions (uczelnie służb państwowych) (2)

Around 70% of public HEIs are university-type institutions which provide first-, second (or long-) cycle and third-cycle (doctoral) programmes, while the remaining ones, ca 30%, are non-university HEIs providing only first- and second (or long-) cycle programmes.

As explained in the previous sections, doctoral programmes may also be provided by units of research institutions other than HEIs (Polish Academy of Sciences and research and development institutions) which are authorised to award post-doctoral degrees. Such research institutions are not discussed as a separate type of institutions providing tertiary programmes because they are primarily research rather than educational institutions. As in the case of HEIs, authorisations to award post-doctoral degrees are granted by the Central Commission for Academic Degrees on the basis of the quality of research and the number of staff (12) holding a professorial title or a post-doctoral degree.


First Cycle Programmes


Bachelor

Fields of study

First-cycle programmes, i.e. programmes leading to a Bachelor's degree (licencjat or inżynier), are offered by HEIs in officially recognised fields of study. Fields of study are the same for university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa). All 119 currently existing fields are listed in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 13 June 2006 on the names of fields of study. All HEIs were required by the above-mentioned 2006 Regulation to introduce two-cycle programmes (first-cycle programmes followed by second-cycle programmes) and, in the majority of existing fields of study, replace any long-cycle programmes still in place. Programmes in three fields, i.e. dentistry techniques, medical rescue and social work, are provided only as first-cycle programmes.

First-cycle programmes are offered in the following fields of study listed in the 2006 Regulation:

• Administration

• Agricultural and forestry engineering

• Agriculture

• Animal husbandry

• Archaeology

• Architecture and urban planning

• Astronomy • Automation and robotics

• Aviation and astronautics

• Biology

• Biomedical engineering

• Biotechnology

• Chemical and process engineering

• Chemical technology

• Chemistry

• Civil engineering

• Commodity science

• Composition and music theory

• Computer science

• Computer science and econometrics

• Conducting

• Cosmetology

• Cultural heritage protection

• Cultural studies

• Dance

• Dentistry techniques

• Design

• Dietetics

• Directing

• Economics

• Electrical engineering

• Electronic engineering and telecommunications

• Environmental engineering

• Environmental protection

• Ethnology

• European studies

• Family studies

• Film and television production management

• Finance and accountancy

• Fine arts education

• Fisheries Science

• Food technology and human nutrition

• Forestry

• Geodesy and cartography

• Geography

• Geology

• Graphic arts

• Health and safety at work (added in 2009)

• History

• History of art

• Horticulture

• Instrumental studies

• Interior design

• Internal security

• International relations

• Jazz and stage music

• Journalism and social communication

• Landscape architecture

• Logistics

• Management

• Maritime (ocean) engineering

• Materials engineering

• Mathematics

• Mechanical engineering

• Mechatronics

• Medical rescue

• Metallurgy

• Midwifery

• Mining and geology

• Music education

• Musicology

• National security

• Navigation

• Nursing

• Oceanography

• Painting

• Papermaking and printing

• Pedagogy

• Philology

• Philosophy

• Physical education

• Physics

• Physiotherapy

• Polish philology

• Political science

• Power engineering

• Production management and engineering

• Public health

• Scenography

• Scientific information and library science

• Sculpture

• Security engineering

• Social policy

• Social work

• Sociology

• Sound engineering

• Spatial management

• Special pedagogy

• Sport

• Technical and computer education

• Technical physics

• Textile engineering

• Theatre studies

• Theology

• Tourism and leisure studies

• Transport

• Vocal studies

• Wood technology

Public HEIs offer first-, second- and long-cycle programmes in the following groups of fields of study:

• universities: humanities, social sciences, business and administration, law, journalism and information, science, teacher education;

• technical universities: engineering and technology, architecture and building, transport, environmental protection, business and administration;

• agricultural universities/academies: agriculture, environmental protection, veterinary medicine;

• universities/academies of economics: business and administration

• pedagogical universities/academies: education science, social sciences, humanities

• medical universities/academies: medicine, dental studies, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy

• schools/universities of maritime studies: engineering and technology, navigation, business and administration;

• universities/academies of physical education: physical education, sport, physiotherapy

• schools/academies of art studies: fine arts, music, performing arts

• military higher education institutions: fields relevant to military service, engineering and technology, navigation

• government service higher education institutions: fields related to the police and fire services, engineering and technology

(most of the above being university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) which are authorised to provide first- and second- (or long-) cycle programmes in these areas)

• non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa) authorised to provide only first-cycle programmes (until recently referred to as public "schools of higher vocational education"): business and administration, social sciences.

The duration of first-cycle (Bachelor's degree) programmes in both university-type and non-university HEIs depends on the field of study and is as follows:

• first-cycle programmes leading to a licencjat degree: 3 to 4 years;

• first-cycle programmes leading to an inżynier degree: 3.5 to 4 years.

Admission requirements

General requirements for admission to first-cycle programmes in HEIs are the same for both university-type and non-university HEIs.

Access to first-cycle programmes, leading to a Bachelor's degree (licencjat or inżynier), is open to holders of a maturity certificate (świadectwo maturalne). After the introduction of the external maturity examination (egzamin maturalny) in 2005, admission to first-cycle degree programmes should be based on results of this examination. Thus, HEIs may not organize entrance examinations in the subjects taken by student applicants at the maturity exam. However, each HEI may specify which results of the maturity exam provide the basis for admission to first-cycle (as well as long-cycle) programmes. Additional entrance examinations may be conducted by HEIs, with the consent of the minister responsible for higher education, only when it is necessary to assess knowledge or skills which are not assessed by the maturity exam or when an applicant holds an upper secondary school leaving certificate obtained abroad.

While respecting these general admission requirements, each HEI may define its own additional admission conditions and procedures, including the number of places available to students, except in medical fields of study (numerus clausus). Admission conditions and procedures may be similar across an HEI or may vary according to the field of study. Different conditions and procedures may be applied by different HEIs for the same fields of study. Admission conditions and procedures should be published by each HEI not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

The maximum number of students to be enrolled in each medical field of study (medicine, dentistry, nursing and midwifery) by individual HEIs concerned is specified in a regulation by the minister responsible for health, in consultation with the minister responsible for higher education. The maximum enrolment levels take into account the teaching capacity of the HEIs concerned and the demand for graduates in these fields of study.

In HEIs where applicants should meet any additional conditions, student enrolment is carried out by admissions committees appointed by the head of a given organisational unit (e.g. faculty) or other body indicated in the statutes of a given HEI. Admissions committees take decisions in any matters related to student enrolment. Applicants may appeal against decisions of an admissions committee to the institutional admissions committee; decisions in such cases are taken by the rector and are final.

Curriculum

Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2012 on the teaching standards for the following fields of study: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and midwifery lays down detailed teaching standards for these fields.

The requirements concerning the study programmes for the remaining fields of study are included in the regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 5 October 2011 on the conditions for the provision of degree programmes in a given field and level of study. Under the regulation:

• Study programme for a given field and a given level of study as well as profile/profiles within that field includes a description of expected learning outcomes and a study timetable describing the process of education (teaching/learning) leading to the acquisition of these outcomes.

• Description of expected learning outcomes for a given field, level or path of study in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences acknowledges the outcomes relevant for the given field, level and path selected from the full list of learning outcomes defined for the area or areas of study to which a given field belongs.

There are two profiles of study- practical or academic.

Study programme for a field of study, level of study and profile outlines:

1. the form (organization) of study - full or part-time;

2. number of semesters and the number of ECTS points necessary to obtain the qualifications relevant for the given level of study;

3. study modules (courses or groups of courses) together with description of expected learning outcomes and number of ECTS credits for each module;

4. methods for verification of expected learning outcomes;

5. study timetable for part-time and full-time studies;

6. total number of ECTS credits that a student is obliged to get in courses requiring direct participation of teachers and students;

7. total number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in courses of basic significance for which learning outcomes for a given field, area, branch of study have been described;

8. total number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student for practical courses including laboratories and projects;

9. minimal number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in general, open courses or courses completed in the framework of a different field of study

10. minimal number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in Physical Education classes;

11. rules for, the length and form of practical placements to be completed by a student if they are envisaged in the study programme;

In addition, a student has the right to choose at least 30% of study modules counted by the expected number of ECTS credits possible to be obtained in a given cycle of study.

Study programme may not be changed while a given cycle of study is in progress.

The academic year in HEIs usually begins on 1 October and finishes at the end of June. It is divided into two semesters. In addition to the summer holidays, there are the following breaks for students: the winter holidays (in the first half of February) lasting 1-2 weeks and two shorter breaks at Christmas and Easter.

Detailed arrangements concerning the academic year are laid down by individual HEIs.

Teaching methods

There are no general national regulations or guidelines concerning teaching methods. Teaching is organised in the form of lectures, classes, workshops, seminars, projects and/or practical training/placements, depending on the content of the curriculum for a given field or type of programme. Teachers are free to decide on teaching methods and teaching materials. They use a wide variety of teaching methods and materials, ranging from traditional ones to those based on ICT.

Organizational variations

First-cycle programmes have two basic forms in terms of organization:

• Full-time programmes – a form of study in which min. half of the study programme is implemented as class hours requiring direct participation (attendance) of academic teachers and students;

• Part-time programmes – a form of study other than (different from) the full-study programme as indicated by the senate of a given HEI.

Part-time programmes are normally provided as extramural or evening classes.

The 2005 Law on Higher Education stipulates that classes conducted as part of degree programmes in HEIs may be taught using distance learning methods. Detailed arrangements concerning distance learning are defined in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 25 September 2007 on the the conditions for classes as part of degree programmes to be conducted using distance learning methods and techniques, as amended by the regulations of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2008 and 2 November 2011. If an HEI plans to provide programmes based on distance learning, it must fulfil a range of requirements with respect to: the employment of academic staff trained in such techniques and methods of teaching; the installation of appropriate equipment and software; the availability of electronic teaching materials; ensuring meetings with academic supervisors; continuing and periodic assessment of students; and the monitoring of academic teachers conducting distance-learning classes. The number of class hours for full-time and part-time programmes offered using distance learning methods and techniques may not be greater than: 60% of the total number of class hours as specified in the programme requirements for individual fields and levels of study – practical study including laboratory classes, field work, workshops should take place on site – during class hours requiring direct participation of academic teachers and students. Methods and techniques of distance learning, including virtual labs, may be introduced here on a complementary basis.

Progression of students

Detailed rules for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and admitting to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations adopted by individual HEIs. However, all students are allowed to take a resit examination, including the final examination, and an examination following a failed resit examination which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. In order to be admitted to the final examination, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements provided for in the curriculum, obtain relevant number of ECTS credits (minimum 180 for first-cycle studies) and to submit their final thesis(except in medical fields) prepared independently which must then receive a positive assessment. If the study programme does not provide for the preparation of a thesis and taking the final examination, students are only required to complete all courses and practical placements provided for in the curriculum.

The head of a basic organisational unit of a HEI (e.g. faculty) is obliged to strike a student from the register of students in cases where he/she has not taken up or withdrawn from study, has not submitted the final thesis or has not taken the final examination within the time limit specified in the study regulations. The head may also strike from the register a student who has made no progress in learning or has not completed successfully a semester or academic year within the time limit specified in the study regulations.

Employability

Practical placements for students are organised as an integral part of first-cycle programmes in some fields of study.

A large number of HEIs have already established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland, and/or in co-operation with the National Labour Office. Careers services provide information about jobs available for professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Moreover, students and graduates may obtain information and guidance from careers advisors working in public employment services and private employment agencies concerning the preparation of CVs and letters of motivation, behaviour during interviews, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Co-operation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

In line with the amended Law on Higher Education higher education institutions are obliged to monitor the career of their graduates in order to adjust the fields of study and study programmes to the needs of the labour market. The monitoring should take place in particular within three to five years after the graduate’s completion of studies.

Student assessment

The verification of student’s learning outcomes in the Polish higher education system is usually conducted within a given educational institution by a particular lecturer/ academic teacher. The guidelines concerning the methods of assessment and the ways of their implementation are formulated on the HEI’s level (basic unit), as a part of the internal education quality assurance system.

In the period preceding the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework for higher education, the assessment of learning outcomes, also in the case of higher education institutions that have previously prepared syllabuses in accordance with the NQF , was relatively limited. Most of the applied tools enabled the assessment of the level of a student’s acquaintance with the curriculum content, that is they referred to the “knowledge” category of effects, and allowed to decide whether a student has sufficient knowledge to get a particular grade.

Among the most common methods of the internal assessment there are:

• tests,

• written(descriptive) examination,

• oral examination,

• papers/ midterm essays,

• research/ laboratory class reports, • students’ presentations,

• individual and group projects,

• class participation,

• presence,

• portfolio,

• peer Assessment,

• short entry tests before the laboratory classes,

• self-assessment.

The learning outcomes assessment may be conducted with the use of one or a few of the aforementioned methods (e.g. participation combined with a midterm paper and a final test).

Many programmes require students’ doing a practical placement/ training. The final assessment of the training is usually descriptive and includes not only the “knowledge” group of effects, but also the “skills” and “social competences” group of effects. Practical professional experience is especially important for the evaluation of the last two groups of learning outcomes. Students, by performing actual duties, can prove they have specific professional skills, which are verified in a practical way in a suitable working environment. The descriptive assessment often also includes a characteristic of some of the student’s personality traits, such as: ability to work in a group/team, critical thinking, etc.

The diploma examination is particularly significant for the assessment of the learning outcomes, as it enables the verification of competencies acquired during the entire course of studies. What is more , it should help to decide whether a student understood and is able to use and apply the knowledge that was delivered during the classes/ lectures. As a result, except for the acquired knowledge, the diploma examination also verifies to some extent students’ social skills. The details of the diploma examination procedures are regulated on the university/institution and its basic units level. The final grade, which appears on the diploma, depends on the supervisor’s and reviewer’s assessment of the thesis, assessment of the diploma examination (during which a student may be asked some questions concerning the thesis or other subjects), and the entire programme/ course of studies grade/ point average. The review of the thesis is multifaceted and it embraces the following criteria:

• relevance ,

• characteristics of the content arrangement,

• the use of references, indexes, etc.,

• linguistic accuracy,

• general assessment of the content ,

• new/ original approach/ insight that the thesis brings

• the general assessment of the thesis is expressed with one of the following numbers: 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!.

The learning outcomes verification ends with an overall grade which can be expressed as a pass/fail or can relate to the specified- set of possible grades (e.g. 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!).

In some cases, the learning outcomes assessment procedure assumes the participation of third parties – it concerns especially foreign language examinations. For example, PTE General certificates that check 4 language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking:

• dismiss from the doctoral examination in the area of modern foreign language (a candidate does not need to take the exam)– the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 22 October 2011

• are recognized by the Ministry of National Education as a confirmation of the language skills required from those who want to work as English teachers – The Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 17 April 2012

• are recognized by the Civil Service as a confirmation of a good/ sufficient command of the English language (The Regulation of the Prime Minister of 16 December 2009) as well as by many employers in Poland and abroad.

In some cases, an external verification of foreign language learning outcomes is used, even though the learning process takes place at the same higher education institution. It allows to make the assessment more objective – if a student fails a semester/ an examination, the institution cannot be accused of not awarding a credit deliberately, with the motivation based only on the financial factor (obtainment of an additional fee from a student).

Certification

First-cycle programmes offered both in university-type and non-university HEIs end with the final (diploma) examination (egzamin dyplomowy). The examination is conducted by an examination board composed of academic teachers of the organisational unit of a HEI (e.g. faculty or department) which offers a given programme.

Students who have passed the final examination are awarded a higher education diploma (dyplom ukończenia studiów wyższych) which confirms the completion of a given type of programme and the award of the relevant degree in a given field of study. If the study programme does not provide for the final examination, students are only required to have completed all courses and practical placements in order to obtain a diploma confirming the award of the relevant degree (the overall mark equals the average of the marks for all the courses). The same diplomas and degrees are awarded by university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa). Diplomas are issued in accordance with specimens defined in a regulation by the minister responsible for higher education and are officially recognised documents. At the graduate's request, the HEI is obliged to issue a copy of the diploma in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German or Russian.

The following types of Bachelor's degree are awarded to students upon completion of first-cycle programmes:

• licencjat: in the following fields: humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, administration, social sciences, medical areas (except nursing and midwifery), physical education and fine arts;

• licencjat pielęgniarstwa: in the field of nursing;

• licencjat położnictwa: in the field of midwifery;

• inżynier: in the fields of engineering and technology (except architecture and urban planning), forest agriculture, and in other areas where over 50% of courses are concerned with engineering or technology, agriculture or forestry;

• inżynier architekt: in the field of architecture and urban planning;

• inżynier architekt krajobrazu: in the field of landscape architecture;

• inżynier pożarnictwa: awarded to firemen of the State Fire Service after the completion of a programme in the field of civil safety engineering at the Main School of the Fire Service.

A Bachelor's degree (licencjat or inżynier) entitles its holder to practise a given profession and provides access to second-cycle (Master's degree) programmes.


Short-Cycle Higher Education


Fields of study Teacher training colleges (kolegium nauczycielskie) and foreign language teacher training colleges (nauczycielskie kolegium języków obcych) provide programmes in the fields of study (referred to as “speciality fields”) corresponding to subjects or types of classes taught in schools and other educational institutions. Where a foreign language is the specialty field offered, all courses are taught in this language. Colleges of social work (kolegium pracowników służb społecznych) provide programmes in the field of social work.

The duration of all programmes offered in the three types of colleges is 3 years.

Admission requirements College programmes provided in all three types of colleges, including teacher training colleges (kolegium nauczycielskie), foreign language teacher training colleges (nauczycielskie kolegium języków obcych) and colleges of social work (kolegium pracowników służb społecznych), are open to holders of a maturity certificate (świadectwo maturalne). Applicants are also required to obtain a positive result in the admission procedure. Admission rules and procedures are adopted by the Programme Council, a collective body established in each college. Moreover, those applying for admission to teacher training colleges or foreign language teacher training colleges are required to have a medical certificate confirming that they fulfil health requirements for the teaching profession.

Curriculum

Programmes launched between the academic years 1992/93 and 2006/07 at the latest are based on the requirements laid down in the 1992 Ordinance of the Minister of National Education on the outline timetables, minimum curriculum requirements for compulsory subjects and curricula approved for use in initial teacher training institutions. These requirements specified the courses to be taught, the minimum number of hours to be allocated for each course, and the minimum duration of practical training (teaching placement at school). Colleges developed their own detailed curricula in accordance with these requirements.

Programmes launched as from the academic year 2008/09 are based on the requirements laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 30 June 2006 on the programme requirements for initial teacher training in teacher training colleges and foreign language teacher training colleges. These programme requirements, which are a set of national standards, define the profile of a graduate, groups of courses to be taught, the minimum number of hours to be allocated for each course, outline content of courses, and the minimum duration and content of practical training (teaching placement at school). Colleges develop their own detailed curricula, while respecting the requirements laid down in the Regulation.

Programmes in colleges of social work are based on the requirements laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of Social Policy of 7 April 2005 on the programme requirements for initial training in colleges of social work. These requirements, which are a set of national standards, define the groups of courses to be taught, the minimum number of hours to be allocated for each course, outline content of courses, the minimum duration and content of practical training, and the skills required of graduates. Detailed curricula are developed by colleges in compliance with these requirements.

The duration of the academic year in teacher training colleges, foreign language teacher training colleges and colleges of social work is specified in the relevant legislation. The academic year lasts between 1 October and 30 September in the following year, and includes 2 semesters of classes, winter and summer examination periods, public holiday breaks and winter and summer holidays.

Teaching methods

The only aspect regulated in the legislation at national level is the size of student groups attending classes (except lectures) in colleges. The maximum size of a group is 20 students in teacher training colleges and colleges of social work, and 15 students in foreign language teacher training colleges.

Progression of students

Detailed rules for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and admission to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations adopted by individual colleges. However, all college students are allowed to take a resit examination, including the final examination and an examination following a failed resit examination which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. In order to be admitted to the final examination, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements as provided for in the curriculum, and to submit their diploma thesis which must then receive a positive assessment.

The director of a given college may strike a student from the register of college students in the cases specified in the statutes of individual colleges.

Employability

Practical placements are organised as an integral part of training programmes in all three types of college. Teacher training colleges and foreign language teacher training colleges organise practical placements for their students in schools and other educational institutions. Colleges of social work organise practical placements for their students in welfare services, non-governmental organisations, associations and other institutions and organisations involved in social work. Practical placements are organised on the basis of agreements concluded between a given college and the institution/organisation where placements will take place.

There are no special arrangements concerning career guidance in colleges. However, college students and graduates may obtain information and assistance from careers advisors working in public employment services and private employment agencies.

Student assessment

Each course is completed on the basis of an oral or written examination or the assessment of the student's coursework; the coursework is assessed by various methods, including papers/essays or projects. The grading scale is as follows: excellent - 6, very good – 5, good – 4, sufficient – 3, insufficient – 2. These marks, except the excellent mark, may be upgraded by 0.5 (“+”). Student performance during a course is assessed by the teacher responsible for a given course. Examinations are also conducted by the teacher responsible for a given course. The performance of students during practical training (a practical placement) is assessed by the teacher responsible for practical training in a given college and a supervisor in the institution where the placement takes place. Student learning achievements are recorded in their student record books (academic transcripts). Detailed arrangements concerning student assessment, including assessment criteria and requirements to be fulfilled by students in order to complete courses and practical training and to be admitted to examinations, are laid down in the statutes and study regulations of a given college.

Certification

College programmes end with the final examination taken before an examination board established by the director of a given college. College graduates are awarded a college diploma (dyplom ukończenia kolegium). A college diploma is issued in accordance with a specimen defined in a regulation by the minister of education, and is an officially recognised document.

College students may also supplement their study programme and take an examination which leads to the award of a Bachelor's degree (licencjat). It is taken before an examination board established by the rector of the HEI responsible for academic supervision over a given speciality field in the college. Upon passing such an examination, students are awarded a Bachelor's (licencjat) degree by the supervising HEI.


Second Cycle Programmes


Fields of study

Second-cycle programmes are offered by HEIs in officially recognised fields of study. Fields of study are the same for university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa). All 119 currently existing fields are listed in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 13 June 2006 on the names of fields of study. In line with the aims of the Bologna Process, all HEIs were required by the 2006 Regulation to introduce two-cycle programmes (first-cycle programmes followed by second-cycle programmes) and, in the majority of existing fields of study, replace any long-cycle programmes still in place.

Second-cycle programmes are offered in the following fields of study listed in the 2006 Regulation:

• Administration

• Agricultural and forestry engineering

• Agriculture

• Animal husbandry

• Archaeology

• Architecture and urban planning

• Astronomy

• Automation and robotics

• Aviation and astronautics

• Biology

• Biomedical engineering

• Biotechnology

• Chemical and process engineering

• Chemical technology

• Chemistry

• Civil engineering

• Commodity science

• Composition and music theory

• Computer science

• Computer science and econometrics

• Conducting

• Cosmetology

• Cultural heritage protection

• Cultural studies

• Dance

• Design

• Dietetics

• Directing

• Economics

• Electrical engineering

• Electronic engineering and telecommunications

• Environmental engineering

• Environmental protection

• Ethnology

• European studies

• Family studies

• Film and television production management

• Finance and banking

• Fine arts education

• Fisheries Science

• Food technology and human nutrition

• Forestry

• Geodesy and cartography

• Geography

• Geology

• Graphic arts

• Health and safety at work (added in 2009)

• History

• History of art

• Horticulture

• Instrumental studies

• Interior design

• Internal security

• International relations

• Journalism and social communication

• Landscape architecture

• Logistics

• Management and marketing

• Maritime (ocean) engineering

• Materials engineering

• Mathematics

• Mechanical engineering

• Mechatronics

• Metallurgy

• Midwifery

• Mining and geology

• Music education

• Musicology

• National security

• Navigation

• Nursing

• Oceanography

• Painting

• Papermaking and printing

• Pedagogy

• Philology

• Philosophy

• Physical education

• Physics

• Physiotherapy

• Polish philology

• Political science

• Power engineering

• Production management and engineering

• Public health

• Scenography

• Scientific information and library science

• Sculpture

• Security engineering

• Social policy

• Sociology

• Sound engineering

• Spatial management

• Special pedagogy

• Sport

• Technical and computer education

• Technical physics

• Textile engineering

• Theatre studies

• Theology

• Tourism and leisure studies

• Transport

• Vocal studies

• Wood technology

Public HEIs offer degree programmes in the following groups of fields:

• universities: humanities, social sciences, business and administration, law, journalism and information, strict sciences, teacher education;

• technical universities: engineering and technology, architecture and building, transport, environmental protection, business and administration;

• agricultural universities/academies: agriculture, environmental protection, veterinary medicine;

• universities/academies of economics: business and administration

• pedagogical universities/academies: education science, social sciences, humanities

• medical universities/academies: medicine, dental studies, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy

• schools/universities of maritime studies: engineering and technology, navigation, business and administration;

• universities/academies of physical education: physical education, sport, physiotherapy

• schools/academies of art studies: fine arts, music, performing arts

• military higher education institutions: fields relevant to military service, engineering and technology, navigation

• government service higher education institutions: fields related to the police and fire services, engineering and technology.

The duration of second-cycle programmes, leading to a Master's (magister) degree or an equivalent degree, in both university-type and non-university HEIs is 1.5 to 2 years, depending on the field of study.

Admission requirements

General requirements for admission to second-cycle programmes are the same for both university-type and non-university HEIs. Access to second-cycle programmes is open to those who hold a Bachelor's (licencjat or inżynier) degree, a Master's (magister) degree or an equivalent degree.

While respecting the general admission requirements, each HEI may define its own additional admission conditions and procedures, including the number of places available to students, except in medical fields of study (numerus clausus). Admission conditions and procedures may be similar across a HEI or may vary according to the field of study. Different conditions and procedures may be applied by different HEIs for the same fields of study. Admission conditions and procedures must be published by each HEI not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

The maximum number of students to be enrolled in each medical field of study (medicine, dentistry, nursing and midwifery) by individual HEIs concerned is specified in a regulation by the minister responsible for health, in consultation with the minister responsible for science and higher education. The maximum enrolment levels take into account the teaching capacity of the HEIs concerned and the demand for graduates in these fields of study.

In HEIs where applicants must meet any additional conditions, student enrolment is carried out by admissions committees appointed by the head of a given organisational unit (e.g. faculty) or other body indicated in the statutes of a given HEI. Admissions committees take decisions in any matters related to student enrolment. Applicants may appeal against decisions of an admissions committee to the institutional admissions committee, and to the rector whose decisions in such cases are final.

Curriculum

Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2012 on the teaching standards for the following fields of study: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and midwifery lays down detailed teaching standards for these fields.

The requirements concerning the study programmes for the remaining fields of study are included in the regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 5 October 2011 on the conditions for the provision of degree programmes in a given field and level of study. Under the regulation:

• Study programme for a given field and a given level of study as well as a profile/profiles within that field includes a description of expected learning outcomes and a study timetable describing the process of education (teaching/learning) leading to the acquisition of these outcomes.

• Description of expected learning outcomes for a given field, level or path of study in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences acknowledges the outcomes relevant for the given field, level and path selected from the full list of learning outcomes defined for the area or areas of study to which a given field belongs.

There are two profiles of study - practical or academic.

Study programme for a field of study, level of study and profile outlines:

1. the form (organization) of study - full or part-time;

2. number of semesters and the number of ECTS points necessary to obtain the qualifications relevant for the given level of study;

3. study modules (courses or groups of courses) together with description of expected learning outcomes and number of ECTS credits for each module;

4. methods for verification of expected learning outcomes;

5. study timetable for part-time and full-time studies;

6. total number of ECTS credits that a student is obliged to get in courses requiring direct participation of teachers and students;

7. total number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in courses of basic significance for which learning outcomes for a given field, area, branch of study have been described;

8. total number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student for practical courses including laboratories and projects;

9. minimal number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in general, open courses or courses completed in the framework of a different field of study

10. minimal number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in Physical Education classes;

11. rules for, the length and form of practical placements to be completed by a student if they are envisaged in the study programme;

In addition, a student has the right to choose at least 30% of study modules counted by the expected number of ECTS credits possible to be obtained in a given cycle of study.

Study programme may not be changed while a given cycle of study is in progress.

The academic year in HEIs usually begins on 1 October and finishes at the end of June. It is divided into two semesters. In addition to the summer holidays, there are the following breaks for students: the winter holidays (in the first half of February) lasting 1-2 weeks and two shorter breaks at Christmas and Easter.

Detailed arrangements concerning the academic year are laid down by individual HEIs.

Teaching methods

There are no general national regulations or guidelines concerning the teaching methods. Teaching is organised in the form of lectures, classes, workshops, seminars, projects and/or practical training/placements, depending on the content of the curriculum for a given field or type of programme. Teachers are free to decide on teaching methods and teaching materials. They use a wide variety of teaching methods and materials, ranging from traditional ones to those based on ICT.

Organisational variations

Second-cycle programmes have two basic forms in terms of organization: full-time and part-time.

• Full-time programmes – a form of study in which min. half of the study programme is implemented as class hours requiring direct participation (attendance) of academic teachers and students;

• Part-time programmes – a form of study other than (different from) the full-study programme as indicated by the senate of a given HEI.

Part-time programmes are normally provided as extramural or evening classes.

The 2005 Law on Higher Education stipulates that classes conducted as part of degree programmes in HEIs may be taught using distance learning methods. Detailed arrangements concerning distance learning are defined in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 25 September 2007 on the conditions for classes as part of degree programmes to be conducted using distance learning methods and techniques, as amended by the regulations of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2008 and 2 November 2011. If a HEI plans to provide programmes based on distance learning, it must fulfill a range of requirements with respect to: the employment of academic staff trained in such techniques and methods of teaching; the installation of appropriate equipment and software; the availability of electronic teaching materials; ensuring meetings with academic supervisors; continuing and periodic assessment of students; and the monitoring of academic teachers conducting distance learning classes. The number of class hours for full-time and part-time programmes offered using distance learning methods and techniques may not be greater than: 60% of the total number of class hours as specified in the programme requirements for individual fields and levels of study – practical study including laboratory classes, field work, workshops should take place on site – during class hours requiring direct participation of academic teachers and students. Methods and techniques of distance learning, including virtual labs, may be introduced here on a complementary basis.

Progression of students

Detailed rules for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and admission to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations adopted by individual HEIs. However, all students are allowed to take a resit examination, including the final examination, and an examination following a failed resit examination which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. In order to be admitted to the final examination, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements as provided for in the curriculum, obtain relevant number of ECTS credits (for second- cycle studies – min. 90 ECTS) and to submit their diploma thesis prepared independently which must then receive a positive assessment. Where the curriculum does not envisage the preparation of a thesis and admission to the final examination, students are only obliged to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum.

The head of a given basic organizational unit of an HEI (e.g. faculty) is obliged to strike a student from the register of students in cases where the student has not undertaken or withdrawn from studies, has not submitted a thesis or has not taken the diploma examination in the period specified in the study regulations. The head of a unit may also strike from the register a student who has failed to make progress, or failed to complete a semester or academic year with positive results in the time specified in the study regulations.

Employability

Practical placements for students are an integral part of degree programmes in some fields of study.

A large number of HEIs have already established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland, and/or in co-operation with the National Labour Office. Careers services provide information about jobs available for professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Moreover, students and graduates may obtain information and guidance from careers advisors working in public employment services and private employment agencies concerning the preparation of CVs and letters of motivation, behaviour during interviews, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Co-operation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

In line with the amended Law on Higher Education 2011 higher education institutions are obliged to monitor the career of their graduates in order to adjust the fields of study and study programmes to the needs of the labour market. The monitoring should take place in particular within three to five years after the graduate’s completion of studies.

Student assessment

The verification of student’s learning outcomes in the Polish higher education system is usually conducted within a given educational institution by a particular lecturer/ academic teacher. The guidelines concerning the methods of assessment and the ways of their implementation are formulated on the HEI’s level (basic unit), as a part of the internal education quality assurance system.

In the period preceding the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework for higher education, the assessment of learning outcomes, also in the case of higher education institutions that have previously prepared syllabuses in accordance with the NQF , was relatively limited. Most of the applied tools enabled the assessment of the level of a student’s acquaintance with the curriculum content, that is they referred to the “knowledge” category of effects, and allowed to decide whether a student has sufficient knowledge to get a particular grade.

Among the most common methods of the internal assessment there are:

• tests,

• written(descriptive) examination,

• oral examination,

• papers/ midterm essays,

• research/ laboratory class reports,

• students’ presentations,

• individual and group projects,

• class participation,

• presence,

• portfolio,

• peer assessment,

• short entry tests before the laboratory classes,

• self-assessment.

The learning outcomes assessment may be conducted with the use of one or a few of the aforementioned methods (e.g. participation combined with a midterm paper and a final test).

Many programmes require students’ doing a practical placement/ training. The final assessment of the training is usually descriptive and includes not only the “knowledge” group of effects, but also the “skills” and “social competences” group of effects. Practical professional experience is especially important for the evaluation of the last two groups of learning outcomes. Students, by performing actual duties, can prove they have specific professional skills, which are verified in a practical way in a suitable working environment. The descriptive assessment often also includes a characteristic of some of the student’s personality traits such as: ability to work in a group/team, critical thinking, etc.

The diploma examination is particularly significant for the assessment of the learning outcomes, as it enables the verification of competencies acquired during the entire course of studies. What is more , it should help to decide whether a student understood and is able to use and apply the knowledge that was delivered during the classes/ lectures. As a result, except for the acquired knowledge, the diploma examination also verifies to some extent students’ social skills. The details of the diploma examination procedures are regulated on the university/institution and its basic units level. The final grade, which appears on the diploma, depends on the supervisor’s and reviewer’s assessment of the thesis, assessment of the diploma examination (during which a student may be asked some questions concerning the thesis or other subjects), and the entire programme/ course of studies grade/ point average. The review of the thesis is multifaceted and it embraces the following criteria:

• relevance ,

• characteristics of the content arrangement,

• the use of references, indexes, etc.,

• linguistic accuracy,

• general assessment of the content,

• new/ original approach/ insight that the thesis brings

• the general assessment of the thesis is expressed with one of the following numbers: 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!.

The learning outcomes verification ends with an overall grade which can be expressed as a pass/fail or can relate to the specified- set of possible grades (e.g. 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!).

In some cases, the learning outcomes assessment procedure assumes the participation of third parties – it concerns especially foreign language examinations. For example, PTE General certificates that check 4 language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking:

• dismiss from the doctoral examination in the area of modern foreign language (a candidate does not need to take the exam)– the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 22 October 2011

• are recognized by the Ministry of National Education as a confirmation of the language skills required from those who want to work as English teachers – The Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 17 April 2012

• are recognized by the Civil Service as a confirmation of a good/ sufficient command of the English language (The Regulation of the Prime Minister of 16 December 2009) as well as by many employers in Poland and abroad.

In some cases, an external verification of foreign language learning outcomes is used, even though the learning process takes place at the same higher education institution. It allows to make the assessment more objective – if a student fails a semester/ an examination, the institution cannot be accused of not awarding a credit deliberately, with the motivation based only on the financial factor (obtainment of an additional fee from a student).

Certification

Second-cycle programmes offered in both university-type and non-university HEIs, except in medical fields, end with the final (diploma) examination (egzamin dyplomowy). The examination is conducted by an examination board composed of academic teachers of the organisational unit of a HEI (e.g. faculty or department) which offers a given programme.

Students who have passed the final examination are awarded a higher education diploma (dyplom ukończenia studiów wyższych) which confirms the completion of a given type of degree programme and the award of the relevant degree in a given field of study. If the study programme does not provide for the final examination, students are only required to have completed all courses and practical placements in order to obtain a diploma confirming the award of the relevant degree (the overall mark equals the average of the marks for all courses). The same diplomas and degrees are awarded by university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa). Diplomas are issued in accordance with specimens defined in a regulation by the minister responsible for higher education and are officially recognised documents. At the graduate's request, the HEI is obliged to issue a copy of the diploma in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German or Russian.

The following types of Master's degrees are awarded to students upon completion of second-cycle programmes (as well as long-cycle programmes):

• magister – in the fields of humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, social sciences, law, medical areas (except medicine, dentistry, nursing and midwifery) and physical education;

• magister pielęgniarstwa – in the field of nursing;

• magister położnictwa – in the field of midwifery;

• magister sztuki - in the fields of fine arts;

• magister inżynier – in the fields of engineering and technology (except architecture and urban

planning), forestry and agriculture, and in other areas where over 50% of courses are concerned with engineering or technology, agriculture or forestry; • magister inżynier architekt – in the field of architecture and urban planning;

• magister inżynier architekt krajobrazu – in the field of landscape architecture;

• magister inżynier pożarnictwa – awarded to firemen of the State Fire Service after the completion of a programme in the field of civil safety engineering at the Main School of the Fire Service.

A Master's degree (magister) or equivalent degree entitles its holder to practise a given profession and provides access to third-cycle (doctoral) programmes.


Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure


Long-cycle programmes

Fields of study

At present, degree programmes in the majority of fields of study should be offered as first- and second-cycle programmes. However, programmes in 11 fields of study, including acting, art conservation and restoration, canon law, dentistry, law, medical analysis, medicine, moving image production and photography, pharmacy, psychology and veterinary medicine, are offered only as long-cycle programmes. Programmes in the fields of theology, sculpture, painting, graphic design and directing are offered as two-cycle programmes or as long-cycle programmes. These arrangements have been in force since the academic year 2007/08.

Long-cycle programmes are offered in the following fields of study listed in the 2006 Regulation:

• acting

• canon law

• art conservation and restoration

• dentistry

• directing

• moving image production and photography

• graphic design

• law

• medical analysis

• medicine

• painting

• pharmacy

• psychology

• sculpture

• theology

• veterinary medicine

Admission requirements

General requirements for admission to degree programmes provided by higher education institutions (HEIs) are the same for both university-type (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university (uczelnia zawodowa) HEIs.

Access to long-cycle programmes is open to holders of a maturity certificate (świadectwo maturalne). Following the introduction of the new, external, maturity examination (egzamin maturalny) in 2005, admission to long-cycle programmes (as well as first-cycle programmes) is based on the results of this examination. Thus, HEIs do not organize entrance examinations in the subjects taken by student applicants at the maturity exam. However, each HEI may specify which results of the maturity exam provide the basis for admission. Additional entrance examinations may be conducted by HEIs, with the consent of the minister responsible for higher education, only when it is necessary to assess knowledge or skills which are not assessed by the maturity exam or when an applicant holds an upper secondary school leaving certificate obtained abroad.

While respecting the general admission requirements, each HEI may define its own additional admission conditions and procedures, including the number of places available to students, except in medical fields of study (numerus clausus). Admission conditions and procedures may be similar across an HEI or may vary according to the field of study. Different conditions and procedures may be applied by different HEIs for the same fields of study. Admission conditions and procedures must be published by each HEI not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

The maximum number of students to be enrolled in each medical field of study (medicine, dentistry, nursing and midwifery) by individual HEIs concerned is specified in a regulation by the minister responsible for health, in consultation with the minister responsible for science and higher education. The maximum enrolment levels take into account the teaching capacity of the HEIs concerned and the demand for graduates in these fields of study.

In HEIs where applicants should meet any additional conditions, student enrolment is carried out by admissions committees appointed by the head of a given organisational unit (e.g. faculty) or other body indicated in the statutes of a given HEI. Admissions committees take decisions in any matters related to student enrolment. Applicants may appeal against decisions of an admissions committee to the institutional admissions committeem, as well as to the rector whose decisions in such cases are final.

Curriculum

Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2012 on the teaching standards for the following fields of study: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and midwifery lays down detailed teaching standards for these fields.

The requirements concerning the study programmes for the remaining fields of study are included in the regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 5 October 2011 on the conditions for the provision of degree programmes in a given field and level of study. Under the regulation:

• Study programme for a given field and a given level of study as well as a profile/profiles within that field includes a description of expected learning outcomes and a study timetable describing the process of education (teaching/learning) leading to the acquisition of these outcomes.

• Description of expected learning outcomes for a given field, level or path of study in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences acknowledges the outcomes relevant for the given field, level and path selected from the full list of learning outcomes defined for the area or areas of study to which a given field belongs.

There are two profiles of study - practical or academic.

Study programme for a field of study, level of study and profile outlines:

1. the form (organization) of study - full or part-time;

2. number of semesters and the number of ECTS points necessary to obtain the qualifications relevant for the given level of study;

3. study modules (courses or groups of courses) together with description of expected learning outcomes and number of ECTS credits for each module;

4. methods for verification of expected learning outcomes;

5. study timetable for part-time and full-time studies;

6. total number of ECTS credits that a student is obliged to get in courses requiring direct participation of teachers and students;

7. total number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in courses of basic significance for which learning outcomes for a given field, area, branch of study have been described;

8. total number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student for practical courses including laboratories and projects;

9. minimal number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in general, open courses or courses completed in the framework of a different field of study

10. minimal number of ECTS credits to be obtained by a student in Physical Education classes;

11. rules for, the length and form of practical placements to be completed by a student if they are envisaged in the study programme;

In addition, a student has the right to choose at least 30% of study modules counted by the expected number of ECTS credits possible to be obtained in a given cycle of study.

Study programme may not be changed while a given cycle of study is in progress.

The academic year in HEIs usually begins on 1 October and finishes at the end of June. It is divided into two semesters. In addition to the summer holidays there are the following breaks for students: the winter holidays (in the first half of February) lasting 1-2 weeks and two shorter breaks at Christmas and Easter.

Detailed arrangements concerning the academic year are laid down by individual HEIs.

Teaching methods

There are no general national regulations or guidelines concerning the teaching methods. Teaching is organised in the form of lectures, classes, workshops or seminars, projects and/or practical training/placements, depending on the content of the curriculum for a given field or type of programme. Teachers are free to decide on teaching methods and teaching materials. They use a wide variety of teaching methods and materials, ranging from traditional ones to those based on ICT.

Organisational variations

Long-cycle programmes have two basic forms in terms of organization: full-time and part-time.

• Full-time programmes – a form of study in which min. half of the study programme is implemented as class hours requiring direct participation (attendance) of academic teachers and students;

• Part-time programmes – a form of study other than (different from) the full-study programme as indicated by the senate of a given HEI.

Part-time programmes are normally provided as extramural or evening classes.

The 2005 Law on Higher Education stipulates that classes conducted as part of degree programmes in HEIs may be taught using distance learning methods. Detailed arrangements concerning distance learning are defined in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 25 September 2007 on the the conditions for classes as part of degree programmes to be conducted using distance learning methods and techniques, as amended by the regulations of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2008 and 2 November 2011. If an HEI plans to provide programmes based on distance learning, it must fulfil a range of requirements with respect to: the employment of academic staff trained in such techniques and methods of teaching; the installation of appropriate equipment and software; the availability of electronic teaching materials; ensuring meetings with academic supervisors; continuing and periodic assessment of students; and the monitoring of academic teachers conducting distance-learning classes. The number of class hours for full-time and part-time programmes offered using distance learning methods and techniques may not be greater than: 60% of the total number of class hours as specified in the programme requirements for individual fields and levels of study – practical study including laboratory classes, field work, workshops should take place on site – during class hours requiring direct participation of academic teachers and students. Methods and techniques of distance learning, including virtual labs, may be introduced here on a complementary basis.

Generally the long-cycle programmes very seldom take the organizational form other than full-time programmes (e.g. medicine)

Progression of students

Detailed rules for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and admission to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations adopted by individual HEIs. However, all students are allowed to take a resit examination, including the final examination, and an examination following a failed resit examination which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. In order to be admitted to the final examination, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements as provided for in the curriculum, obtain a relevant number of ECTS credits (for long-cycle 5-year programmes 300 ECTS and long-cycle 6-year programmes 360 ECTS ) and to submit their diploma thesis prepared independently which must then receive a positive assessment. Where the curriculum does not envisage the preparation of a thesis and admission to the final examination, students are obliged only to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum.

The head of a given basic organizational unit of an HEI (e.g. faculty) is obliged to strike a student from the register of students in cases where the student has not undertaken or has withdrawn from studies, has not submitted a thesis or has not taken the diploma examination in the period specified in the study regulations. The head of a unit may also strike from the register a student who has failed to make progress, or failed to complete a semester or academic year with positive results in the time specified in the study regulations.

Employability

Practical placements for students are organised as an integral part of degree programmes in some fields of study.

A large number of HEIs have already established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland, and/or in co-operation with the National Labour Office. Careers services provide information about jobs available for professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Moreover, students and graduates may obtain information and guidance from careers advisors working in public employment services and private employment agencies concerning preparation of CVs and letters of motivation, behaviour during interviews, etc (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Co-operation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

In line with the amended Law on Higher Education 2011 higher education institutions are obliged to monitor the career of their graduates in order to adjust the fields of study and study programmes to the needs of the labour market. The monitoring should take place in particular within three to five years after the graduate’s completion of studies.

Student Assessment

The verification of student’s learning outcomes in the Polish higher education system is usually conducted within a given educational institution by a particular lecturer/ academic teacher. The guidelines concerning the methods of assessment and the ways of their implementation are formulated on the HEI’s level (basic unit), as a part of the internal education quality assurance system.

In the period preceding the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework for higher education, the assessment of learning outcomes, also in the case of higher education institutions that have previously prepared syllabuses in accordance with the NQF , was relatively limited. Most of the applied tools enabled the assessment of the level of a student’s acquaintance with the curriculum content, that is they referred to the “knowledge” category of effects, and allowed to decide whether a student has sufficient knowledge to get a particular grade.

Among the most common methods of the internal assessment there are:

• tests,

• written(descriptive) examination,

• oral examination,

• papers/ midterm essays,

• research/ laboratory class reports,

• students’ presentations,

• individual and group projects,

• class participation,

• presence,

• portfolio,

• peer assessment,

• short entry tests before the laboratory classes,

• self-assessment.

The learning outcomes assessment may be conducted with the use of one or a few of the aforementioned methods (e.g. participation combined with a midterm paper and a final test).

Many programmes require students’ doing a practical placement/ training. The final assessment of the training is usually descriptive and includes not only the “knowledge” group of effects, but also the “skills” and “social competences” group of effects. Practical professional experience is especially important for the evaluation of the last two groups of learning outcomes. Students, by performing actual duties, can prove they have specific professional skills, which are verified in a practical way in a suitable working environment. The descriptive assessment often also includes a characteristic of some of the student’s personality traits such as: ability to work in a group/team, critical thinking, etc.

The diploma examination is particularly significant for the assessment of the learning outcomes, as it enables the verification of competencies acquired during the entire course of studies. What is more , it should help to decide whether a student understood and is able to use and apply the knowledge that was delivered during the classes/ lectures. As a result, except for the acquired knowledge, the diploma examination also verifies to some extent students’ social skills. The details of the diploma examination procedures are regulated on the university/institution and its basic units level. The final grade, which appears on the diploma, depends on the supervisor’s and reviewer’s assessment of the thesis, assessment of the diploma examination (during which a student may be asked some questions concerning the thesis or other subjects), and the entire programme/ course of studies grade/ point average. The review of the thesis is multifaceted and it embraces the following criteria:

• relevance ,

• characteristics of the content arrangement,

• the use of references, indexes, etc.,

• linguistic accuracy,

• general assessment of the content ,

• new/ original approach/ insight that the thesis brings

• the general assessment of the thesis is expressed with one of the following numbers: 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!.

The learning outcomes verification ends with an overall grade which can be expressed as a pass/fail or can relate to the specified set of possible grades (e.g. 2/ 3/ 3,5/ 4/ 4,5/ 5/ 5!).

In some cases, the learning outcomes assessment procedure assumes the participation of third parties – it concerns especially foreign language examinations. For example, PTE General certificates that check 4 language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking:

• dismiss from the doctoral examination in the area of modern foreign language (a candidate does not need to take the exam)– the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 22 October 2011

• are recognized by the Ministry of National Education as a confirmation of the language skills required from those who want to work as English teachers – The Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 17 April 2012

• are recognized by the Civil Service as a confirmation of a good/ sufficient command of the English language (The Regulation of the Prime Minister of 16 December 2009) as well as by many employers in Poland and abroad.

In some cases, an external verification of foreign language learning outcomes is used, even though the learning process takes place at the same higher education institution. It allows to make the assessment more objective – if a student fails a semester/ an examination, the institution cannot be accused of not awarding a credit deliberately, with the motivation based only on the financial factor (obtainment of an additional fee from a student).

Certification

Like first- and second-cycle programmes, long-cycle programmes offered in both university-type and non-university HEIs end with the final (diploma) examination, except in medical fields of study. The examination is conducted by an examination board composed of academic teachers of the organisational unit of a HEI (e.g. faculty or department) which offers a given programme.

Students who have passed the final examination are awarded a higher education diploma (dyplom ukończenia studiów wyższych) which confirms the completion of a given type of degree programme and the award of the relevant degree in a given field of study. If the study programme does not provide for the final examination, students are only required to have completed all courses and practical placements in order to obtain a diploma confirming the award of the relevant degree (the overall mark equals the average of the marks for all courses). The same diplomas and degrees are awarded by university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and non-university HEIs (uczelnia zawodowa). Diplomas are issued in accordance with specimens defined in a regulation by the minister responsible for higher education and are officially recognised documents. At the graduate's request, the HEI is obliged to issue a copy of the diploma in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German or Russian.

The following types of Master's degrees are awarded to students upon completion of long-cycle degree programmes:

• magister – in the fields of medical analysis, law, canon law, psychology and theology;

• magister sztuki - in the fields of fine arts;

• magister farmacji - in the field of pharmacy;

• Lekarz - in the field of medicine;

• Lekarz dentysta - in the field of dentistry;

• Lekarz weterynarii - in the field of veterinary medicine.

A Master's degree (magister) or an equivalent degree entitles its holder to practise a given profession and provides access to third-cycle (doctoral) programmes.


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


Organisation of doctoral studies

Doctoral programmes, offered in university-type HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and research institutions other than HEIs, prepare for the award of a doctoral degree (doktor or doktor of fine arts) in the following areas and disciplines:

• Biological sciences (biochemistry, biophysics, biology, biotechnology, ecology, microbiology)

• Chemical sciences (biotechnology, chemistry, chemical technology)

• Economic science (economics, management, commodity science)

• Pharmaceutical sciences

• Physical sciences (astronomy, biophysics, physics, geophysics)

• Humanities (archaeology, library science, ethnology, philosophy, history, history of art, language studies, cultural studies, literature studies, political science, cognitive and social communication science, art studies, management, education, psychology, religion studies, sociology)

• Forestry sciences (wood science, forestry)

• Mathematical sciences (computer science, mathematics)

• Medical sciences (medical biology, medicine, dentistry)

• Physical culture science

• Earth sciences (geophysics, geography, geology, ocean science)

• Health sciences

• Law (administration, law, canon law)

• Agricultural sciences (agronomy, agricultural engineering, environmental management, horticulture, fisheries studies, food and nutrition technology, animal husbandry)

• Engineering and technology (architecture and urban planning, automation and robotics, bio-cybernetics and biomedical engineering, biotechnology, machine building, civil engineering, electronic engineering, electrical engineering, geodesy and cartography, mining and engineering geology, computer science, chemical engineering, materials engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, chemical technology, telecommunications, transport, textile engineering)

• Theological sciences

• Veterinary sciences

• Film studies

• Music studies (conducting, instrumental studies, composition and music theory, sound engineering, eurhythmics, vocal studies)

• Plastic arts (fine arts, applied arts)

• Theatre studies.

Doctoral programmes in both HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs last between 3 and 4 years, the predominating model being a four-year programme. The exact duration of a doctoral programme is determined in regulations establishing such a programme in a given unit of an HEI or other research institution.

Curricula for doctoral programmes are developed by boards of the units providing such programmes in both HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs, and are approved by the authorities of a given institution. Curricula in both HEIs and other research institutions must specify the number of compulsory course hours to be attended, coursework to be completed and examinations to be passed in each year of study. In addition, doctoral students in HEIs are required to teach courses (for a maximum of 90 hours) as part of their practical training.

Admission requirements

Access to doctoral programmes, which are provided by university HEIs (uczelnia akademicka) and research institutions other than HEIs, is open to applicants who hold a Master's degree (magister) and fulfil admission conditions laid down by a given institution. Detailed admission conditions are defined by the board of the organisational unit authorised to provide doctoral programmes in a given institution, and must be published not later than by 31 May of the year preceding the academic year to which they refer.

Status of doctoral students/candidates

The Law on Higher Education defines a doctoral student as a participant in a doctoral programme. The statutes of an HEI specify the selection procedure and percentage share of representatives of academic teachers, doctoral students, students and non-academic staff to be members of the board of a basic organisational unit of an HEI. The percentage share of representatives of doctoral students and students in the board of a basic organizational unit may not be less than 20%. The number of representatives of doctoral students and students is determined in proportion to their numbers in both groups in the basic organizational unit, with students and doctoral students to be represented by at least one representative from each group.

Doctoral students have influence on the plans and curricula of doctoral programmes through opinions voiced by the relevant doctoral students self-government body.

The basic obligations of doctoral students include following the programme of doctoral studies, and conducting research and reporting on its progress. Doctoral students are also required to undertake practical training which involves teaching or participation in the teaching of classes. The maximum teaching load for a doctoral student is 90 class hours per year.

Doctoral students are entitled to holidays, in total not exceeding 8 weeks per year, which should be taken in periods when no classes are taught. They are also covered by social security and health insurance schemes.

A doctoral student may also receive financial support in the form of a maintenance grant, aid payment, scholarship for learning achievements, meals grant, accommodation grant or a special grant for the disabled. Full-time doctoral students may also be granted doctoral scholarships, amounting at least to 60% of the minimum basic wage of an assistant as specified in the regulations on salaries for academic teachers.

Supervision arrangements

Academic supervision of doctoral students is exercised by the student’s superviser. Academic supervision may involve monitoring progress in the student's research work and providing advice and guidelines, including those concerning the preparation of the doctoral thesis and various aspects of research activity (publications, participation in conferences, etc).

Employability

A large number of HEIs have already established careers services/offices, drawing on the experience of their partner HEIs in other EU countries or more experienced HEIs in Poland, and/or in co-operation with the National Labour Office. Careers services provide information about jobs available for professionals in a given area, guidance in the choice of career paths and training for students or graduates as prospective job applicants. Moreover, students and graduates may obtain information and guidance from careers advisors working in public employment services and private employment agencies concerning the preparation of CVs and letters of motivation, behaviour during interviews, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

In line with the amended Law on Higher Education 2011 higher education institutions are obliged to monitor the career of their graduates in order to adjust the fields of study and study programmes to the needs of the labour market, the monitoring should take place in particular within three to five years after the graduate’s completion of studies.

Co-operation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs where employers present their job offers.

Assessment

Doctoral students in HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs are required to attend courses and take examinations provided for in the doctoral study regulations, to conduct research and submit reports on the progress in research, and to prepare their doctoral dissertation. Doctoral students in HEIs are also required to teach classes in a given organisational unit of their HEI. Examinations are conducted by the academic teacher (in HEIs) or research staff member (in other research institutions) responsible for a given course/type of classes. The progress in research and the preparation of a doctoral dissertation is assessed by the supervisor of a doctoral student (academic teacher/researcher holding a post-doctoral degree /doktor habilitowany/ or a professorial title /profesor/ in a given or related area) or a different authorised body. The teaching of classes by doctoral students in HEIs is assessed by the supervising academic teacher. Detailed arrangements are laid down in doctoral study regulations adopted by the unit in an HEI/research institution providing a given doctoral programme.

Progression of students

Detailed rules for progressing and taking examinations are laid down in the doctoral study regulations by the units of HEIs and research institutions other than HEIs which provide doctoral programmes. In order to be admitted to the final stage leading to the award of a doctoral degree (doktor), applicants (students following a doctoral programme or other applicants because enrolment on a doctoral programme is not a precondition for the award of this degree) are required to pass doctoral examinations as decided by the board of a given unit and to submit their doctoral dissertation.

A student enrolled on a doctoral programme may be struck from the register of doctoral students in cases where he/she has not passed examinations provided for in the curriculum, has not demonstrated any progress in research or the preparation of the doctoral dissertation or has not submitted reports on the progress in his/her work. Such decisions are taken by the head of a given doctoral programme.

Certification

Upon completion of a doctoral programme, students are awarded a certificate of completion of a doctoral programme (świadectwo ukończenia studiów doktoranckich) in accordance with a specimen defined in a regulation by the minister responsible for higher education after consultation with the Central Commission for Academic Degrees. However, as mentioned in the previous sections, enrolment on a doctoral programme is not a precondition for the award of a doctoral degree (doktor). It may be awarded to a person who fulfils the following conditions:

• holds a Master's degree (magister) degree or an equivalent degree;

• has successfully passed doctoral examinations, the precise scope of which is determined by the board of a given organisational unit; such examinations cover the core discipline corresponding to the topic of the doctoral dissertation, an additional discipline and a modern foreign language;

• has submitted and successfully defended a doctoral dissertation (public defence).

A doctoral degree (including an equivalent degree in fine arts) is awarded in a given area and discipline. All proceedings leading to the award of a doctoral degree are conducted, and the degree is awarded, by the faculty board in a HEI or the academic board in another research institutions. A resolution awarding a doctoral degree becomes valid immediately after its adoption by a given faculty/academic board.

Organisational variations

Doctoral programmes may be offered by organizational units of an HEI which is authorised to award a post-doctoral degree (doktor habilitowany) or to award a doctoral degree (doktor) in at least two different disciplines of a given area of science. Doctoral studies may also be provided jointly by several organizational units. The tasks of the individual organizational units involved and financial arrangements for a given doctoral programme are specified in an agreement between these units.

In line with the amended Law on Higher Education 2011 higher education institutions are obliged to monitor the career of their graduates in order to adjust the fields of study and study programmes to the needs of the labour market, the monitoring should take place in particular within three to five years after the graduate’s completion of studies.

Detailed arrangements concerning distance learning are defined in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 25 September 2007 on the conditions for classes as part of degree programmes to be conducted using distance learning methods and techniques, as amended by the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 May 2008. If an HEI plans to provide programmes based on distance learning, it must fulfil a range of requirements with respect to: the employment of academic staff trained in such techniques and methods of teaching; the installation of appropriate equipment and programmes; the availability of electronic teaching materials; ensuring meetings with academic supervisors; continuing and periodic evaluation of students; and the monitoring of academic teachers conducting distance learning classes. The number of class hours for full-time and part-time programmes based on distance learning may not be greater than: 80% of the total number of class hours as specified in the programme requirements for individual fields and levels of study, excluding practical and laboratory classes, in the case of HEI units authorised to award post-doctoral degrees; and 60% in the case of HEI organizational units authorised to award doctoral degrees.


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