NATIONAL CONGRESS OF SCIENCE
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF SCIENCE SEPTEMBER 2017
The National Congress of Science has provided a recapitulation of the debate held at the NCS programme conference in nine academic centres all over Poland. The conferences focused on key issues and challenges facing science and higher education, including legislative proposals developed by three independent teams under the Act 2.0 project.
The important areas in the debates included the following topics:
- organisation and management in higher education.
- internationalization of science and higher education;
- proposals for changes in the humanities and social sciences;
- intensifying cooperation between science, the economy and public administration;
- career paths and development of young academic staff;
- availability of education at the elite level combined with high quality research;
During the National Congress of Science in September 2017 in Kraków, the Minister of Science and Higher Education has presented the draft assumptions for the new Law on Higher Education.
Quality policy, internationalization,
commercialization of research results and demographic change
These are just some of the issues that will be discussed during the NCS
Minister of Science and Higher Education
Jarosław Gowin about National Congress of Science
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The second phase of work on the reform of the higher education and science system, referred to as Act 2.0, has ended. The first phase was to select three teams of researchers who would prepare their own concepts of the change. In the second phase, we focused on a series of several conferences and debates with you – in total about seven thousand scholars, post and undergraduate students as well as university administration staff. We are now facing the last phase: during the National Congress of Science, held between 19th and 20th September at ICE Congress Centre in Kraków, I will present the outcome of the work so far and present the draft law. Then, under the legislative procedure, we will continue the process of extensive consultations which will take several months.
This short description proves that the reform is different from all others. The impulse to carry it out came from the academic community itself. Thousands of people have participated in drafting the law because they feel responsible for the future of Polish universities and science. After 1989 there has been no reform involving such an intensive dialogue in two dimensions: between the government and the interested parties and within that community itself. The European Commission indicates our dialogue as a model for the introduction of extensive systemic reforms.
I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has joined in so far. At the same time, I encourage you to participate in further reform work. We have a unique opportunity to work out comprehensive and coherent solutions which will be the Constitution for the Polish Science and which will define the legal and institutional foundations where you will carry out your mission and vocation for many years to come.
During this time together every voice was important. Under the influence of substantive arguments, the ministry and myself have repeatedly corrected and refined the initial assumptions. In the draft law we will propose a number of solutions that are a direct effect of dialogue with the scientific community.
I also better understand how important it is not to lose anyone nor to leave anyone behind. That is why we have paid so much attention to the smaller academic centres which play an important cultural role in their regions. For the same reason we attach particular importance to the fate of the Polish humanities or the development of art universities.
I believe that wide dialogue has allowed to dispel numerous initial doubts and myths. The reform will strengthen the autonomy of the universities, not weaken it. It does not serve centralization, but gives universities more freedom. I encourage you to reflect on how to use this freedom by designing, for example, a new statute that will cover a broader scope issues than before.
Please allow me to express my opinion that the fact that we got to know each other better and that there closer relationships between universities and friendships between people have been forged adds incalculable value to our work on the draft of the Act 2.0. Despite the naturally different interests, work on the model of the Polish higher education and science system has led to a genuine integration of the academic community.
In the coming years, many changes will await you. We will change the classification of scientific disciplines (based on the OECD model). We will introduce new rules for evaluation (by assessing disciplines within a particular university or institute rather than in organizational entities). We will relate the powers to confer Ph.D. and postdoctoral degrees to the academic categories awarded to a particular entity. We will fundamentally change the model of doctoral education treating graduates not as students but as researchers, and introducing a universal scholarship system for them. We will start a competitive procedure for the selection of research universities which will take several years. We will give universities the freedom to define their own organizational structures. These and many other changes will, however, be introduced evolutionally, based on a carefully prepared, realistic schedule.
During our meetings I have reiterated that reform must necessarily be linked to a significant increase in funding for higher education and science. Today I am happy to say that in next year’s budget there will be an additional one billion złoty for this purpose. We will talk about all these issues in Kraków on 19th and 20th September during the National Congress of Science to which I would cordially like to invite you! The registration process is under way at: nkn.gov.pl. However, neither the Congress nor the work on the draft law in Parliament will put an end to our cooperation. On 1st October 2018, the implementation of the Act will commence. So I have no doubt that ahead of us lie the coming months and years on our common road to success.
COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF SCIENC
We have a special year behind us that has been filled work and discussion on the three conceptual assumptions for the new law on science and higher education under the framework of the Competition Act 2.0 and in the course of programme conferences preceding the National Congress of Science. It has been an extremely creative period in which new solutions were developed and modifications of the various formulated postulates were introduced. Our conferences have also provided a unique opportunity to build relations within the academic community across the boundaries of disciplines and fields of study in which we normally operate. The time has now come for the next phase.
The National Congress of Science which will be held between 19th-20th September in Kraków will provide a recapitulation of this rich and fruitful community-wide debate. The highlight of the Congress will be the presentation of the assumptions for Act 2.0, a new „constitution” for science and higher education, which covers all the issues related to this field today governed by four laws: Higher Education Law, Degrees and Science Act, Act on financing science, and Student loan law.
The National Congress of Science will also mark the start of consultations on the draft law on science and higher education. Until now, at programme conferences, we have worked to better identify problems and propose solutions. At the Congress we will be analysing concrete proposals of comprehensive statutory regulations which translate the developed solutions into legal regulations. That is why the National Congress of Science will also have a working character. The areas governed by the new law will be discussed not only at speeches and panels, but above all at seminars where there will be an opportunity to comment and make proposals on the various sections of the law. The National Congress of Science will be the start of an over two-month-long consultation period after which it will be revised and passed to the government and parliament. What is unique, however, is that the analysis of the draft law will take place at the Congress where so many representatives of the academic community will be present. It will provide an exceptional opportunity for debate both during the sessions in the Congress programme and during informal talks. This will add value to the consultation process that will take place after our Kraków meeting.
The National Congress of Science is intended to open a new chapter in the history of Polish science and higher education. The new legal framework which will give universities a far greater degree of autonomy in shaping their internal structure and activity needs to be filled in with both organizational solutions developed on the spot as well as with high quality research and education. The point is that the law should help and not hinder. In our debates at the Congress we will examine whether it serves well the aims that underlie the work we have been doing together: scientific excellence, high quality education and social responsibility of science.