2010, Vol. 20. The Public/Private Dynamics in Polish Higher Education

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    The Public/Private Dynamics in Polish Higher Education. Demand-Absorbing Private Sector Growth and Its Implications (CPP RPS 20/2010)
    (Center for Public Policy Research Papers Series, 2010) Kwiek, Marek
    The paper links several interrelated processes in Central and Eastern European higher education: expansion through two types of privatization (external: new private providers, and internal, public universities charging fees in a nominally free public sector), severe fiscal constraints limiting further tax-based growth of higher education, and gradual denigration of the research mission of universities caused by almost two decades of their continuous focus on their teaching mission and by general underfunding of university research in the region. Long-term consequences of the unprecedented growth of the private sector in Poland in 1989-2010 are studied, with special emphasis on the consequences of accompanying processes of deinstitutionalization taking place in public universities: decreasing role of traditional academic institutional rules and norms and traditional institutional patterns of academic behavior in Polish universities. A new wave of reforms (2008-2010) is discussed, possibly leading to revised rules, norms and patterns of institutional behavior. Poland, with 33 percent of student enrolments in the private sector in 2009 (out of 1.9 million students), provides a unique case to study the two decades of demand-absorbing growth of private higher education with all its advantages and, as mostly discussed in the present paper, limitations (for advantages, see Kwiek 2007b, 2008c). The overall context of the paper is the emphasis on further expansion of higher education in Europe argued for by both knowledge economy theories and (repeatedly) by the European Commission policy documents, wishing to close the enrolment gap between the European Union and the USA. Finally, the paper presents conclusions and directions for further research. Experimenting with privatization in higher education, substantially increasing access to it in the last ten to fifteen years, were especially strong in Central European systems, Poland being the biggest system in the region and the most notable example. New “public-private dynamics” (Enders and Jongbloed 2007) emerges in Europe and the paper focuses on those systems which have used privatization processes for the expansion of their higher education in the context of increasingly competitive public funding for all public services generally, not only for higher education (and focuses on Poland in particular). Especially, it intends to study the long-term consequences of the expansion through privatization for the system as a whole and for the public sector institutions.
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego