There is a proverb that states, “When you travel, you learn things about the people and places you see” (Anon). Participating in the Poland study tour allowed me to “move out of my comfort zone” to network and expand my learning and understanding of the Polish public and private Higher Education system.
During the week, we met many senior representatives both in the public and private universities who were very welcoming. They engaged in conversation about their Higher education systems, which are different from the UK’s. Within the UK, although universities charge tuition fees, they are ‘state-funded’ and are responsible for employing their own staff; there are a very small number of private universities. Similar to the UK experience in the early 1990s to meet the higher education demand, polytechnics were amalgamated with or became fully fledged universities. Similarly, in Poland it led to the introduction of many private universities, with a great deal of competition between universities to attract students.
Most UK universities are becoming more business focused whilst the private universities in Poland have been and continue to be very competitive, business focused and offer higher quality services compared to their public universities. The number of international students in the UK is high despite the restrictions on student visa entry but the number in Poland is small.
A few aspects put a smile on my face, firstly, students worked full-time during the week and opted to study at weekends, secondly, Polish universities do not operate a system of external examiners similar to UK to ensure university assessment guidelines are adhered in the marking and moderation process and finally, plagiarism is seen as a criminal offence!
The study tour was an informative and insightful experience as the people we met were welcoming, willing to share information and I saw some scenic landscapes and extraordinary historical sites.