Monday, 27 April 2015

Preview of Theme 1: Quality Assurance

The first theme of the tour is quality assurance. With the Bologna process and the development and harmonisation of QA across the EU there has been some coming together of European and UK systems but nonetheless there are considerable historical differences of approach. The rapid growth of private higher education has also raised challenges for the Polish system. As we see more private higher education developing in the UK it will be interesting to learn how another country has coped with this.

Questions we intend to investigate under this theme include (in no particular order): 
  • What are the arrangements for QA in Poland?
  • Who are the key organisations and stakeholders?
  • What are the role of professional bodies in QA?
  • Are there differences in how QA is conducted in different kinds of HEI?
  • What factors underlie the development of QA arrangements in Poland (e.g. government policy, Bologna process)?
  • What is the balance between external quality assurance (inspections and audits) and internal quality assurance (procedures implemented by universities so they themselves can monitor quality)?
  • To what extent do you think your procedures help to improve quality?
  • Are there differences in public perceptions of quality between different types of HEI?
To this end we will be hoping to meet during the visits both quality assurance professionals, as well as academic managers (Head of Department, course directors, or their Polish equivalents).

Of course if you would like to suggest additional questions, or resources that we may find useful, then please let us know.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Why I Joined: Angela Pater

As part of this series of blogposts introducing the Study Tour team and why they have joined it in their own words. I would like to introduce Angela Pater from the University of Bath. So over to you Angela...

This Study Tour will be an excellent opportunity to contribute to a greater understanding of Higher Education in another country.  I believe in spreading good ideas and best practice and forming links with colleagues in other institutions, to the benefit of all parties. Part of the reason I am so committed to access to Higher Education is that my Polish father did not have the opportunity to go to University, having left Poland after World War II; he later studied for a degree in the UK as a mature distance-learning student. I have visited Poland several times and love both its cities and stunning countryside; it seems to have everything.

As Head of Secretariat at the University of Bath, I am interested in higher education governance, especially how students are involved in decision-making, at both formal and more informal levels. I am looking forward to seeing how structures have developed in Poland over recent decades. A lot more can be learned from comparative study than by looking at a topic just in one country in isolation.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Themes and Issues: Why Poland is Interesting

Poland is a hidden gem in Europe, with more history, science and culture to offer than is commonly realised. For example, Polish mathematicians originally broke the Enigma cipher, work that shortened the war and saved countless lives. (Bletchley Park extended their work to later versions of the cipher and made it work on an industrial scale).This is in addtion to a number of Nobel Prize winners in Literature and Science, just to name a few significant contributions to world culture.

Poland has the second oldest university in central europe (the Jageillian in Krakow, after Prague), and was the first nation to have an education ministry.
Initial desk research has revealed a number of interesting and distinctive features of Polish Higher Education. For example. Polish HE has a large recent private HE sector that has played an important role in widening participation.

Poland’s Higher Education System has also undergone vast change in recent years. The system has played a key role in supporting Poland’s transition towards democracy, entry to the EU and alignment with the Bologna Process.

The study tour will seek to gain an understanding of the organisation and make-up of the Polish higher education sector, focusing on three broad themes:

1.    Quality assurance;
2.    Student demand, including internationalisation and the emergence of the Private Sector;
3.    Governance, including the student voice.

We will be writing about each of these themes over the coming weeks.

As always, we look forward to sharing our findings with you all.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Resources and Linkage (and how you can help)

In researching topics prior to the study tour, and later in preparing the report, we will be posting links to useful websites and reports on Polish HE.

So please keep an eye on the blogposts and the sidebar. We hope that this blog can continue to be a useful resource after the Study Tour has ended.

We will of course be writing about the post-tour dissemination activites.

And this is where you can help us. If  you know of any useful resources on Polish HE we can link to, please use the comments below to alert us of it.

And keep up to date on Twitter and contribute by using the hashtag #auapoland - the widget on the sidebar will display the latest tweets.

And of course, many, many thanks.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Why I Joined: Andrew Tuson


I am Andrew Tuson, the study tour coordinator. I am a consultant and interim manager in higher education. I was at City University London for 13 years, where I was Head of Computing and a University Senator, I have since gained experience over a diverse range of institutions. I also am a graduate of the MBA in Higher Education Management from the Institute of Education (now part of University College London). The boring CV stuff can be found on LinkedIn.

I love variety, challenge and travel. Lots and lots of travel. After leaving City I travelled round the world. And so I now work as an interim and consultant, so I can persue travel and other projects outside of contracts.

This is me chilling out in Pratergaten in Berlin last summer where I spent six months getting conversationally fluent in German.

So why Poland? First it is a country I have never been to before. I have heard a lot about it, met lots of Poles in the UK and Germany and always wanted to visit.

Second, there is an issue of professional development. I recently finished an interim assignment for a private provider where internationalisation was brought to the fore. It would be interesting to look at this from a different european perspective.

But must importantly, it is an interesting higher education system to study. Poland’s Higher Education System has undergone vast change in recent years. Apart from supporting their transition towards democracy, entry to the EU and alignment with the Bologna Process, Polish HE also has a large recent private HE sector.

As you will see over the next few months...

I look forward to sharing our findings with you.


About the AUA Poland Study Tour

Now that the Easter weekend is over and the study tour team has met, it is time to introduce this blog.

The Association of University Administrators exists to advance and promote the professional recognition and development of all who work in professional services roles in higher education, and to be an authoritative advocate and champion for the sector.  Established over 50 years ago, the AUA is an inclusive membership-led professional body with more than 4,500 members both in the UK and around the world.

The international study tour is arranged on an annual basis by the AUA’s International Higher Education Network for the benefit of members and to strengthen international links between the AUA and overseas organisations.   

This year’s study tour will visit Poland between 11 and 17 May 2015, making a number of institutional visits in Warsaw, Poznan and Krakow. It has three objectives.

  • To undertake a fact finding mission and produce a report on the Polish HE system which incorporates analysis of similarities and differences and considers ways of sharing best practise;
  • To enable participants to gain an international perspective on aspects of HE decision making, policy and practise;
  • To allow tour participants the opportunity to challenge their existing notions about HE and undertake research in a non-UK environment.
A key deliverable will be a report of the findings, along with associated dissemination activites. This blog will also give a commentary on the development of the tour: before, during and after.

Between now and the tour, we'll be introducing the team and giving you a preview of the issues we will be looking at, and why Poland is such an interesting HE system to study.

So stay tuned.