The Polish higher education system in the European Higher Education Area
Along with 29 other countries, Poland signed the Bologna Declaration, which aims at the creation of the European Area of Higher Education. The current reforms being made in the Polish Higher Education System follow the Bologna Process recent action lines.
Institutions and degree courses
The Polish higher education system allows for both state (public) and private (non-public) institutions of higher education. There are two main categories of higher education institution: university-type and non-university institutions (in a university-type HEI at least one unit is authorised to confer the academic degree of “doktor”, i.e. offers at least one doctoral programme).
Higher education institutions in Poland offer the following educational possibilities:
- First cycle studies of two types:
- studies leading to the professional title of “licencjat”, of 3 to 4 years’ duration,
- studies leading to the professional title of “inżynier”, of 3.5 to 4 years’ duration
- Second cycle studies of 1.5 to 2 years’ duration (Master type), leading to the professional title of “magister” or an equivalent degree, accessible for graduates of first cycle studies;
- Long-cycle studies of 4.5 to 6 years’ duration (Master type) leading to the professional title of “magister” or an equivalent degree;
- Third cycle studies- doctoral programmes, provided by the university-type schools as well as some research institutions (first of all the Polish Academy of Sciences).
- Access to degree programmes in a higher education institution is open to persons who:
- hold a secondary-school leaving certificate, if applying for admission to a first-cycle programme or a long-cycle programme, or
- hold the degree of magister, licencjat, inżynier or an equivalent degree, if applying for admission to a second-cycle programme, and fulfil admission conditions defined by a given higher education institution.
- Admission conditions and procedures as well as forms of study for each field of study are specified by the senate of a higher education institution. A relevant resolution of the senate should be announced at the institution’s web site.
- Admission to first-cycle programmes and long-cycle programmes is based primarily on results of the secondary-school leaving examination. The senate of a higher education institution specifies, which results of the secondary-school leaving examination provide the basis for admission to degree programmes.
- The date of enrolment varies according to the institution and branch of study.
Foreign students who want to enrol should contact directly the chosen university, its faculty or international relations office, in order to obtain appropriate detailed information on the conditions of admission.
Higher education is free of charge at full-time day courses in public sector institutions. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: (1) charging fees is permitted in the case of courses that are repeated by a student as a result of his/her unsatisfactory achievements; (2) students applying for admission have to pay an administrative fee which amount is fixed by an institution, but cannot exceed the maximum defined annually by the minister of education. The majority of state higher education institutions organise fee-paying part-time studies.
Tuition fees in either state or non-state establishments of higher education vary greatly, and the amount depends not only on the real cost of studies, but also on the interest displayed in different fields of study.