Higher education institutions - NAWA

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Types of higher education institutions


The Polish higher education system includes both public and non-public institutions. Each HEI, based on the quality of their scientific research and didactic offer may also be classified as academic (research-oriented) or professional (focused on providing higher education best suited for the job market). Moreover, there is a popular division of HEIs into groups according to the areas of knowledge and training which they focus on. However, it has to be stressed that the classification of HEIs based on scientific domains is a traditional one. The scope of programmes offered by a HEI can be broader than its name would suggest. For example universities of technology kept their historical names but they may (and do) offer courses in other fields of science.

Academic HEIs offer first-cycle and second- or long-cycle programmes. They may also provide education at doctoral level. On the other hand, they are not allowed to offer so called specialist education (short higher education programmes of at least 3 semesters duration at the level equivalent to level 5 of the EQF).

Aside from academic HEIs, doctoral programmes may be offered also by scientific institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polska Akademia Nauk). The list of institutes can be found here.

Professional HEIs usually offer first-cycle programmes with practical profile. They may also carry out second-cycle or long-cycle programmes with practical profile as well as provide specialist education. However, they are not entitled to organize doctoral programmes nor award doctoral degrees.

HEIs with academic profile may use certain words, like “uniwersytet” (university), “akademia” (academy) or “politechnika” (university of technology), as name components if only they meet the requirements indicated in the Law on Science and Higher Education. However, certain Polish HEIs that do meet condition to use the word “uniwersytet” do not use it in their name, preferring to keep the traditional name referring to the HEIs character. On the other hand, many non-public HEIs misuse the word “university” in English versions of their names, as names’ translations can be created at will and are not officially verified by state.

The list of recognised higher education institutions can be found here.