Being a participant in the recent AUA study tour to Poland has proved to be a very beneficial and interesting experience for me. Having the opportunity to meet with a broad range of people from both private and public universities has given me an understanding of Polish HE.
I anticipated that there would be some similarities and expected there to be differences in structure and quality assurance processes and this proved to be the case. I have also learnt from discussions with fellow tour participants about operations within UK institutions.
The welcome from individuals from all the institutions visited in Poland was brilliant; all were very generous with their time and hospitality. Some points which left an impression; both private and public university representatives talked of the challenges that lay ahead particularly of demographics/declining student numbers and the strategies to combat this situation.
External evaluation is undertaken at either programme or institutional level by the PKA (Polish Accreditation Committee equivalent of the QAA) who carry out approximately 1000 reviews per year. Polish Universities don’t operate a system of external examiners as in the UK. Some institutions reported that student engagement and participation on university’s committees was very high others that it can be sometimes difficult to encourage students to participate (sound familiar?) even though students in Poland are required by law to be represented on committees and can have significant influence on policy and decision making including financial decisions. And the fact that plagiarism is seen as a criminal offence was a very interesting point of view.