The Challenges for Higher Education Research in Poland (CPP RPS 53/2013)

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Center for Public Policy Research Papers Series

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Research on higher education has a relatively short history, although issues concerning the role of university and academic scholars have been in the center of academic discourse since the beginning of the 19th century. In many countries universities attracted the attention of the greatest scholars who share their views on what needs to be done in order to preserve the unique role of a university. But as an area of research “higher education” is a relatively new phenomenon in Europe, though in America enjoys a longer history. While in most Western European countries until the 1960s universities remained small, elite, autonomous and largely unexplored institutions, in the US Carnegie Foundation runs a number of research projects since the early 20th century. Therefore in Western Europe, only a few serious policy documents based on empirical data were published until the late 1970s among them was the English Robbins Report and the Swedish U-68 (1968). A similar situation applied to Poland in which higher education did not attract research attention. In general, as long as a small number of universities cost national budgets a small amount of public money and had little influence on economic development there was no need for intensive research in higher education. It has all changed with the mass expansion of higher education because it has turned out to be an important challenge for public policy. In addition, the arrival of a post-industrial economy transformed higher education into “a billion dollar enterprise”. An educated society became a highly valued asset of economic development, a fundamental part of civic society that contributes to the well being of its members. Hence, the demand for research in higher education has grown in order to provide knowledge and information for universities operating in highly competitive environments. Most importantly the need for knowledge has also been expressed by national governments which bear the responsibility for higher education policy. This paper tries to address the issue of research in higher education in Poland. By doing so, it will briefly refer to philosophical discourse in universities in the 19th and early the 20th century in Europe and look critically at early research efforts that explored higher education. Furthermore, the paper will investigate the reasons behind the expansion of research in higher education in Europe. It will pay special attention to the emergence of a new form of knowledge “mode 2” that revolutionized the interdisciplinary approach to research conducted in higher education. In the final part, the paper demonstrates the rise and fall of higher education research in Poland but it also will try to foresee its development in the future.





CPP RPS Vol. 53 (2013), Poznań, 2013, pp. 1-24.



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego