Amendments to the Law on Higher Education in Poland

ustawa miniNo more tuition for a second degree, new rules for commercialising research and clearer guidelines on monitoring the careers of graduates - these are just some of the changes to the Law on Higher Education signed by President Bronisław Komorowski on August 13, 2014.

One of the most important changes introduced is the abolition of tuition for a second or successive course of study leading to a degree. In June, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the tuition fees introduced in 2011 for a second or successive major course of study are unconstitutional. As of the 2014-2015 academic year, students can begin second and successive studies leading to a degree without having to pay tuition.

Other important changes were made to regulations on commercialising research results. Until now, each university developed its own rules on the process of commercialising research results. The amended law stipulates that higher education institutions own the rights to commercialise their employees’ research results for the first three months. If the institution has not initiated work to commercialise the results within that time, ownership rights are transferred to the inventor.  The university and researcher may, however, forgo this procedure and develop another process to commercialise the innovation.

The recently introduced amendments also require higher education institutions to distinguish two educational profiles in the study programmes offered: academic and practical. Students in a programme with an academic profile will participate in research studies conducted by their educational institution, while students in a practically profiled programme will be required to complete three months of practical work in their field. Another new option is the ability to validate learning outcomes attained outside of the university by students with the relevant professional experience, which can then be accredited towards the requirements of the study programme. As a result, some coursework requirements could be waived for students who have already attained applicable learning outcomes.

The changes introduced with the amended Law on Higher Education will improve the quality of study programmes, facilitate cooperation between universities and businesses, encourage adults to embark on higher education studies and help to combat the unemployment of university graduates. The new regulations will enter into force on October 1, 2014. However, more time is needed to introduce some of the more major changes, such as the regulations for validating learning outcomes or phasing out teacher training colleges.

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