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Ministry of Science is working on university internationalisation program

Poland is at the tail end of the European Union when it comes to the internationalisation of universities. The situation is expected to improve after the launch of the Ministry of Science program, the assumptions of which were discussed on Wednesday in Warsaw.

The conference on the assumptions of the "Program of internationalisation of higher education" was held in Warsaw.

Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Daria Lipińska-Nałęcz reported that Poland was on the penultimate place when it comes to the percentage of foreign students in the EU countries in 2012. "This place should be changed" - noted the deputy minister. According to the data presented by the Ministry of Science, in Poland in 2012 there were only 1.3 percent foreign students. In the EU, only Croatia is worse (0.7 percent.).

Lipińska-Nałęcz presented the new arrangements for the EU's Erasmus programme. "We have reached an agreement with the Ministry of Finance, and it seems that there is a decision to exempt all Erasmus funds from tax" - she emphasised.

The internationalisation of Polish universities, which is a goal of the Ministry of Science, involves both attracting people from abroad to take up studies in Poland and encouraging Poles to study abroad. It also includes support for the mobility of teachers and researchers: it is important to bring eminent foreign scientists to Poland and to facilitate going abroad for Polish scholars. The Ministry wants to organize and coordinate these activities.

According to the Deputy Minister, to the tasks of universities associated with the internationalisation of higher education should include creating a study offer attractive for foreigners. She noted, universities would benefit from obtaining international accreditations, expanding the range of studies conducted in foreign languages, building international doctoral studies, making efforts for the recruitment of foreign researchers in Poland and facilitating trips of Polish employees abroad and their returns to the country. Deputy Minister also pointed out the importance of open online courses conducted by universities (so-called MOOCs - Massive Open Online Courses).

Lipińska-Nałęcz also emphasised in her speech the importance of services provided to international student. This included the development of language competence and soft skills among administrative staff. It is also worth it - according to the ministry - to prepare recruitment guides and create mechanisms for the integration of foreigners.

The Ministry of Science activities in support of the internationalisation of higher education will include preparing an information database on the scholarship offer - for both the Poles who want to study abroad and foreigners interested in studying in Poland. Information on the legal framework and visa procedures used by the consular services will also be prepared. The ministry also wants to study the mobility of Polish students and monitor the careers of foreign graduates. Ministry of Science intends to help in the transfer of good practices between universities. "We have knowledge, but it is scattered, it should be centralized. We look forward to cooperation with universities" - noted Lipińska-Nałęcz. In addition, the Ministry wants to be involved in the international promotion of study in Poland.

Activities in support of the internationalisation could be co-financed by the EU Operational Programme Knowledge, Education, Development. Deputy Minister of Science explained that the objectives of the program are only a draft that - after talks with academia - has yet to be clarified.

"In order to improve the quality (of education and research), openness is needed - emphasised the rector of the University of Warsaw Prof. Marcin Pałys. "And one of the forms of openness is internationalisation. We look at it this way, when we are determining which forms of internationalisation pay off and which do not" - he said.

President of Kozminski University in Warsaw, Prof. Andrzej Kozminski agreed. He pointed to the importance of obtaining international accreditation by universities - it affects the position of university in rankings, and the number of foreign students and staff. In his opinion, the internationalisation of Polish universities will, however, probably be associated with a significant change in the university culture, and in the way of managing them.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland