The changes in the Polish economy which took place in the 1990s have boosted the educational aspirations of young people. Better education improves the chances for a good job and salary and increases occupational mobility. As a result, the proportion of young people taking up studies at universities has been growing significantly since the early 1990s. At the same time, however, higher education faces many structural problems, including uneven quality of teaching, low popularity of exact sciences and insufficient growth of the number of academic teachers in relation to the rapidly growing numbers of students.

Both the Lisbon Strategy and the document entitled The Role of Universities in the Europe of Knowledge, prepared by the European Commission as part of the Bologna Process, strongly emphasize the role which higher education should play in the development of knowledge-based economy, which provides about half of the total number of new jobs in Europe. However, in order to achieve this goal, European higher education must respond to a number of challenges which are also relevant to the present condition of higher education and the research and development sector in Poland.

Priority 4 of the HC OP focuses on improving the functioning of higher education institutions by creating a favourable organizational environment and helping implement university development programmes. System support under Priority 4 is focused on analysing the condition of Polish higher education, identifying deficiencies and developing effective management and quality assurance tools. Work on the development and modernization of teaching methods and curricula as well as on international accreditation standards will encourage greater openness and mobility of academic communities.

In order to be more competitive, Poland’s economy needs closer ties with science while academics need to improve their skills in the fields of intellectual and industrial property protection, research project management and commercialization of research results. Such projects will help improve R&D staff qualifications and the quality and effectiveness of research; consequently, they will contribute to increasing the innovativeness of the economy.

Objectives of Priority 4:

  • Adjusting the education system to the needs of the economy and the labour market
  • Improving the quality of education services offered by universities
  • Enhancing the attractiveness of university studies in exact sciences and engineering
  • Improving staff qualifications in the R&D sector.