2014, Vol. 78. Caught in the trap of mass education – transformations in the Polish higher education after 1989

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    Caught in the trap of mass education – transformations in the Polish higher education after 1989 (CPP RPS 78/2014)
    (Center for Public Policy Research Papers Series, 2014) Wasielewski, Krzysztof
    Starting from the system transformation in 1989, the system of higher education in Poland underwent such transformations, which, as regards their scale and scope, cannot be compared to higher education systems in other countries of the Eastern Bloc. First of all, the philosophy of university education changed and was based on new challenges, which, related to economy, on the one hand, and, to society on the other hand. The economy, which underwent intensive modernisation, started to show its demand for employees with high (academic) qualifications and the free market called for an opportunity to operate in the public space of private entities (universities). The society and, in particular, young people, for whom the opportunity to take up their studies was a chance to satisfy their “hunger for education” and realise high (and even higher) status aspirations, adjusted to the new challenges. Consequently, non-public universities started to appear on a mass scale and state universities started to accept even greater numbers of students, who mainly did their extramural studies. However, the dynamic changes in the area of higher education led to significant social and economic consequences. The intensive growth of the number of students was not in line with analogous growth of the number of academics and appropriate infrastructure. This, in turn, resulted in lower and lower quality of education. As years went by, one could also perceive the so-called “academic drift” more clearly as regards education in universities, which is manifested by a systematic growth of young people’s interest in social- and humanities-oriented education faculties. Consequently, there was a considerable deficiency of candidates in universities of technology, which did not correlate with economic demands for these types of qualifications. This was directly connected with the lack of stronger relations between the labour market and structure of educational system – changes in school curricula and university faculties and subjects failed to keep pace with changes occurring in the labour market and young people’s expectations. The problem results mainly from the academic character of knowledge provided in universities and system problems connected with implementation of changes in academic institutions. The little scope of cooperation between educational institutions and organisations operating inn the labour market is also significant. Presently, consequences of such trends are more visible in the labour market. Although a positive correlation between a level of education and income gained is still maintained, the statistics expressly show a relatively high unemployment rate among those with better education levels and, especially, among university graduates.
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego