Major professor talks education reform
Q: What is the university’s opinion about the idea of minister of science Barbara Kudrycka creating in Poland flagships? Does Jagiellonian University support such a solution?
A: In September 2007 the Conference of Academic Rectors of Polish Schools started demanding separating such “flagships” among academies. It would be to reform the way of financing higher academies by the state. The basis of it would be achieving perfection in two fields: teaching and research. In my opinion there would be created in Poland such academies that would act in these fields at the international level and could compete with “flagships” of other countries that are already known.
Q: Is the condition of Polish higher education as terrible as the report of Collegium Civitas says?
A: Advisers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in their last report stated that the level of financial outlays for higher education in Poland reached such a low level that it threatens our aspirations to compete with European academies. Ninety-five percent of the National contribution to Jagiellonian University is spent on salaries. That leaves just 5 percent to develop in all the other areas. Academies were made to earn money and as a consequence they lower the quality of education when money is this tight. If we do not make crucial reforms of financing and our way of thinking the most gifted students flee abroad and will not come back to us.
Q: Are financial donations the cure for the problems at academies? Or will organizational changes would be enough?
A: There must be great changes in the way all Polish higher academies function. However, we must remember that the reforms must be carried out parallel to increases in financing for academies. Beginning in 1990 funds for science activity were systematically decreased each year. The pauperization of all academic activities occurred. The salaries at public academies became relatively lower than at non-public academies. Just in 2007 profitable changes were introduced. Immediate realization of a plan of increasing higher education funding is a necessary condition of its development.
Q: That is right. We are heading toward demographical depression. There are fewer and fewer students each year. More and more gifted young people decide to study abroad. What does Jagiellonian University do to attract promising students, from abroad as well?
A: Mainly we increase the quality of our didactics and research. If we build a third campus, 15,000 students can study in conditions better than at many reputable European academies. There we could create the Park and Incubator of Technology Life-Science which allows us to create modern science-research facilities in biotechnology and biomedicine. At the same time we would like to rebuild the second campus and our philologists will soon study in the modern building Paderevianum II, which was created with the help of a donation of 18 mln euro. We continue the process of computerization of the academy. We created very generous stipends for the most gifted.
Q: What position does Jagiellonian University occupy in the persistent argument over paid stationary education?
A: The present system is unjust and the asserted constitutional record of free education is fictional because two-thirds of our students do not have to care about tuition, a third pay 100 percent of tuition and 50 percent of potential students might want to study but cannot because of the bad financial situation of their families. In addition to this, those who take up studies at non-stationary or private academies pay twice as much, including tuition and tax for higher education. It has become necessary to create equal chances for children brought up in poor families in small cities and villages. Co-financing studies, the same for everybody, a developed system of stipend help and student credits guaranteed by the state – these are the basis of future reform in this field.
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