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The Education System in Poland

The System of higher education

Both state and private institutions of higher education exist in Poland. The latter began to appear after 1990. A private school of higher education must receive permission to operate from the Ministry of National Education and Sport. It acquires a legal status then registered by the Minister of National Education and Sport.

In 1998 the first state and private vocational schools of higher education began to appear. These schools train students in vocational/professional specializations and prepare them for specific professions by including 15-week internships and school practice in the mandatory curriculum. Study programs can take the form of daily, evening or extramural studies and distant learning courses. Daily studies is the prevalent form.

To qualify for admission to an institution of higher education, the applicant must hold the secondary school certificate (świadectwo dojrzałości). The rules of admission to the first year of study are determined autonomously by each institution. Some organize competitive entrance examinations, others use ranking procedures based on the final grades listed in the secondary school certificate, still others admit all who apply.

Professional titles awarded to graduates of institutions of higher education:
– the professional title of licencjat is awarded following the completion of 3 or 3.5 years of professional training;
– the professional title of inżynier is awarded following the completion of 3.5 or 4 years of professional studies in technical areas, agriculture and economics and business;
– the title of magister is awarded following the completion of a 5 year program of professional studies in a given discipline; equivalent titles include magister edukacji (in the field of Education), magister sztuki (in the field of Fine Arts), magister inżynier (in the fields of Engineering) and magister inżynier archtekt (in the field of Architecture). Medical and veterinary studies last 6 years and the titles lekarz medycyny (in the field of Medicine), lekarz stomatolog (in the field of Stomatology) and lekarz weterynarii (in the field of Veterinary). The title of magister can also be obtained following the completion of 2 or 2.5-year complementary magister's programs, for which holders of the professional title of licencjat or inżynier are eligible.  The Polish magister degree (grade 4 or 5) is generally considered the academic equivalent of a Bachelors (Honours) degree from countries like the USA and the UK.

To be awarded any of the above professional titles the student must complete all subjects and internships or practice included in the program of study, submit and defend a diploma project or thesis and pass a diploma examination. Upon graduation, each student receives a diploma in a specific discipline, three copies of the diploma and, upon request, a diploma  in a foreign language.

The Act of the Academic Title and Academic Degrees regulating the award of academic titles and degrees establishes the following academic ranks (in ascending order):
– the academic degree of doktor of a particular academic subject area within a particular academic discipline.
– the academic degree of doktor habilitowany of a particular academic subject area within a particular academic discipline.
– the title of profesor of a particular academic subject area.

The degree of doktor is granted to persons who having obtained the professional title of magister (or its equivalent) and having passed the appropriate doctoral examinations have submitted and successfully conducted a public defense of a Ph.D. thesis which must also be examined by at least two specialists. The thesis, written under the supervision of a tutor, should present the author’s original solution to an academic problem, and display the author’s general theoretical knowledge within the relevant academic discipline, and ability to undertake independent academic research.

The degree of doktor habilitowany is awarded to persons who have obtained a doctorate, whose scientific attainments are extensive, and who have submitted an habilitation dissertation, successfully participated in an habilitation colloquium, and have delivered a habilitation lecture. The habilitation dissertation is to be reviewed by at least three specialists and should be considered to be a significant contribution by the author to the development of a particular academic discipline.

The title of profesor is granted to persons who after obtaining the degree of doktor habilitowany have proceeded to both outstanding academic attainments and important educational achievements (successful management of a research team could be understood as such an educational achievement). The assessment of these achievements must be supported by the opinions of at least three specialists.

The degrees of doktor and doktor habilitowany can be granted by the faculty boards of university faculties (or the academic councils of institutes, including non-teaching institutes such as those of the Polish Academy of Sciences) of appropriate academic standing. The right to grant higher degrees is accorded by the Central Commission for Matters Related to Academic Title and Degrees, the members of which are chosen by an electoral college consisting of all Polish Professors. In certain cases resolutions granting the degrees of doktor habilitowany have the force of law only after confirmation by the Central Commission.

The title of profesor if granted by the President of the Republic of Poland and the bases of a resolution of the Central Commission issued in response to a petition by an academic council of sufficient standing to be entitled to grant the degree of doktor habilitowany.