I have learnt that travel changes you in ways you do not expect and my recent experiences with the Study Tour confirms this.
The most important point the trip pushed home for me is this: you have to consider an HE system from its own internal point of reference, and not the Anglo-American axis. This for me makes external reports that try (even implicitly) to impose a norm rather problematics. A better way is to uncover the assumptions and dynamics, and then see how well and robuitly the system compares against that and any external pressures it may face.
One may even wish to be radical and ask what the students get out of it. Burton-Clark's triangle of coordination sprung to mind a number of times during the visit.
As the coordinator I had the pleasure of making a lot of contacts along the way. I am of course indebted to Paul Temple and Mike Shattock, who I had the pleasure of being taught by on the IoE's HE MBA. They put me in touch with another MBA alumus from a private Polish HEI. They also pointed me to Poland's foremost HE management scholar. You will hear much about his work in the report. These contacts were invaluable.
As far as observations about what I oberved on the tour, much of it is along the lines of what the others have said. The fact that academic misconduct is covered by the Polish Penal Code did raise raise a smile. But I would like to make two of my own.
First, given the large private sector I would have expected entry by private equity firms such as in the US but this was not the case. The clue would be seem to in the fee levels chared (c.a. 2,500 pounds against 18,000 pounds for a three-year bachelors), even accounting for the much lower wages in Poland, I would find it hard to see how the large margins they typically seek would be acheiveable.
Second, the Polish I think have adapted as well as could be expected given their historical trajectory; but on their own terms. Some of the practices we have seen, compare well with good practices in the UK.
In fact after the Study Tour, I spent three more weeks backpacking round it (until I fell ill). I like the place and given the opportunity might be persuaded to stay there a while (Polish HEIs - hint, hint!).
There is a good story to be told about Polish HE and I hope we as a team will be able to do it justice.
Anyway, now to write the report. I hope to get it out of the door for November.