6.5 Cross-border learning mobility
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Poland does not have a separate strategy for mobility or internationalisation at early childhood and school education or higher education level, and there are no separate national benchmarks for mobility.
However, internationalisation of higher education and research is incorporated into development goals of the Government’s Strategy for Responsible Development (2016). The Strategy aims to provide conditions encouraging internationalisation of higher education, innovativeness and commercialisation of research findings; facilitate the employment of international scholars with research achievements at Polish higher education institutions (HEIs); and encourage non-EU students to take up studies in Poland. The Law on Higher Education and Science of 20 July 2018 places an emphasis on internationalisation of third-cycle / doctoral programmes and arrangements which facilitate the development and delivery of transnational joint programmes, with most aspects to be regulated by agreements between Polish HEIs and their foreign partners. Furthermore, internationalisation is currently one of the main areas addressed by mandatory programme evaluations / accreditation reviews conducted in higher education by the Polish Accreditation Committee
The National Agency for Academic Exchange (Narodowa Agencja Wymiany Akademickiej, NAWA), established by the Act on the National Agency for Academic Exchange of 7 July 2017, has operated since autumn 2017. The overall aim of the Agency is to encourage internationalisation of Polish higher education and research. The Agency is modelled after the DAAD in Germany, the Dutch NUFFIC and Campus France in France. Its main responsibilities include:
- establishing a system of programmes which support outward and inward mobility of students, including doctoral students, and academic staff;
- implementing programmes which encourage the return of Polish researchers to the country;
- developing a financial mechanism for supporting mobility;
- launching projects supporting higher education institutions in improving the quality of education;
- undertaking information and promotion activities concerning Polish higher education;
- promoting the learning and knowledge of the Polish language abroad.
On 1 February 2018, the Agency took over from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education the responsibilities related to the recognition of higher education qualifications.
Tools facilitating mobility
There are a number of arrangements and tools directly or indirectly supporting mobility at European level. These include, in particular:
- the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) providing a reference system which helps to describe and compare internationally qualifications obtained as part of lifelong learning in individual countries;
- credit systems, the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET), which enable accumulation, transfer and recognition of learning outcomes achieved as part of formal education in various institutions or non-formal education in different settings;
- a set of Europass documents, including, in particular, a Diploma Supplement for higher education diplomas and a Certificate Supplement for vocational qualifications, which describe qualifications obtained by individuals in a standardised and transparent way.
Learning mobility at different levels of lifelong learning takes place primarily within EU programmes in the field of education and training: earlier, the Socrates and Lifelong Learning Programmes and, currently, the Erasmus+ Programme. However, there are also multilateral, bilateral and national programmes (co-)funded by the Polish Government and / or other countries, or international organisations (see details in the next sections).
Moreover, the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education provide funding for various initiatives supporting internationalisation and mobility. For example, since 2003, the MoNE has allocated national funding for projects supporting international cooperation and exchanges of children and young people. As part of the ‘Ready, Study, Go! Poland’ campaign, the MoS&HE, the Foundation for the Development of the Education System and the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (CRASP) have organised since 2012 various actions supporting internationalisation of higher education and promoting studies in Poland. One of them is the multilingual portal Go Poland which provides information on the higher education system, including tuition fees and scholarships, practical information on entering and living in Poland, publications and promotional materials, etc. It also has a search engine for programmes by field and level of study and language of instruction.
Institutions responsible for various aspects of internationalisation and mobility:
- Ministry of National Education (Ministerstwo Edukacji Narodowej)
- Ministry of Science and Higher Education; Department for International Cooperation (Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego, Departament Współpracy Międzynarodowej)
- Foundation for the Development of the Education System managing EU programmes in education and training, including Erasmus+ and eTwinning, and other projects supporting international learning mobility;
- Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) inaugurated on 1 October 2017. Its main goal is to to internationalise Polish science by supporting international research collaboration and academic exchange.
Currently, mobility takes place in the Actions of the Erasmus+ Programme (2014-2020) for the school education and vocational education sectors and for youth. The Programme is administered by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System.
In Strategic Partnership projects within Erasmus+ Action 2, pupils / students of all types of schools may participate in short- and long-term mobility. Short-term pupil / student exchanges, lasting 5 days to 2 months, are directly linked with the objectives of a given project; they are aimed at developing team work, intercultural, project planning and implementation and ICT skills and boosting motivation for foreign language learning. As part of long-term mobility stays, of 2 to 12 months’ duration, students attend classes in a school abroad which is a project partner. The programme of activities / classes and the rules for recognition of a study period abroad are agreed before departure between the sending and receiving schools.
Within Erasmus+ Action 1, Learning Mobility of Individuals, vocational and technical school students may also undertake practical placements / internships in enterprises, NGOs or vocational education or training organisations abroad. This type of mobility, for a period of 2 weeks to 12 months, is intended to facilitate entry into the labour market for future school graduates. The programme of an internship and the rules for its recognition are agreed before departure between the sending and receiving schools.
As part of the PO WER Programme (Program Operacyjny Wiedza, Edukacja, Rozwój), financed by the European Social Fund, the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, which administers the Erasmus+ Programme, provides funding for mobility projects involving vocational school students and graduates and school education staff (including teachers and school counsellors). Grants are awarded to projects submitted under Erasmus+ Action 1, Learning Mobility, which have successfully passed the assessment process but have not been approved due to a lack of Erasmus+ funding (a reserve list).
As mentioned above, each year since 2003, the Ministry of National Education has allocated funding for international youth cooperation and exchanges; for several years now, grants have been awarded on a competitive basis. For example, in 2017, the Ministry has allocated an amount of 685,000 PLN (about 163,000 euro according to the exchange rate of the National Bank of Poland in July 2017) for international youth exchanges with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Israel. The maximum grant per project is 60,000 PLN (about 14,285 euro). Projects are aimed at strengthening dialogue and mutual learning about culture and history, developing attitudes of tolerance, openness and responsibility, and overcoming language barriers. Each project includes at least one reciprocal exchange (at least one visit to Poland and to the partner country). Priority is given to projects which involve young people in civic activities, provide for follow-up activities after the end of the project, encourage young people’s activity and develop their soft skills (e.g. creativity, innovativeness, entrepreneurship).
Students participate in mobility primarily within the EU Erasmus+ Programme, but there are also multilateral and bilateral programmes and national programmes or initiatives. National initiatives are targeted at both Polish and international students. Within EU programmes, a study period or practical placement abroad is recognised on the basis of an agreement between the student and the sending and receiving higher education institutions (HEIs), and in accordance with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation (ECTS); in other programmes, the sending and receiving HEIs agree arrangements for recognition. Degrees obtained abroad are recognised on the basis of national legislation; see the introductory section.
Opportunities for Polish students to undertake a study period in EC countries emerged in 1990, when the European Community launched the TEMPUS Programme for Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1998, like other EU candidate countries, Poland joined the intra-Community Socrates Programme (Stage I: 1995-1999; Stage II: 2000-2006) where students could undertake a period of study within the framework of the Erasmus (sub-)programme. Between 2007 and 2013, Erasmus was part of the larger EU Lifelong Learning Programme.
The Erasmus+ Programme (2014-2020), administered by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, offers several mobility opportunities to students.
Within Erasmus+ Action 1, Learning Mobility, first-, second- and third-cycle students may undertake a study period of 3 to 12 months or a practical placement of 2 to 12 months in an enterprise or another organisation abroad. These types of mobility take place within mobility projects, based on agreements between students’ home HEIs and higher education or other institutions / organisations abroad.
Student mobility may also be part of two types of projects, Strategic Partnerships and Capacity Building in Higher Education, undertaken by HEIs within Erasmus+ Action 2. In both cases, mobility is closely related to the objectives of a given project. Strategic Partnerships may include intensive programmes for students, with a duration of 5 days to 2 months (e.g. summer schools), and blended mobility, combining physical mobility (a short stay in another country) and virtual mobility (participation in virtual learning). Like in Action 1, in Capacity Building in Higher Education projects, students may undertake a period of study (3 to 12 months) or a practical placement (2 to 12 months) abroad.
The latest statistics on learning mobility within the Erasmus+ programme are published regularily by the Polish National Agency of Erasmus+ Programme on a dedicated website.
Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies, CEEPUS
CEEPUS is the first multilateral cooperation programme in the field of education in Central Europe, established on the basis of an international multilateral agreement. Poland has taken part in the programme since 1994; the Polish CEEPUS Office is the national contact point in the country. The other participating countries are: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, and Kosovo. The CEEPUS Programme supports mainly the establishment of inter-university networks where partners from at least three countries offer joint programmes and, in particular, doctoral programmes. Within this framework, the Programme offers scholarships to students and academic teachers based on the principle that each country is required to fund at least 100 scholarship months for inward mobility in each academic year. Scholarships are granted for short study visits, semester study periods and practical placements. Support is also provided for training seminars, language courses and specialist courses.
International Visegrad Fund
The International Visegrad Fund was created in 2000 by the Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary (V4 countries). Each of the four countries provides an equal contribution to the Fund. Additionally, the Fund is supported by other governments or government organisations, including Canada, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
The fund awards grants for various projects and individual scholarships. The latter include scholarships for Master’s degree studies and post-Master (PhD and post-doc) level research stays of 1 to 2 semesters or 1 to 4 semesters in the case of Masters studies. Scholarships are available to students from the V4 countries as well Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and the Ukraine.
Poland has signed bilateral agreements on cooperation, including scholarship-based exchanges, and / or recognition of qualifications with 35 countries, including EU Member States, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Macedonia, Turkey, China, Mongolia, Japan, Vietnam, Israel and Egypt. As part of some of the agreements, the government of Poland and / or the partner country offer(s) a number of scholarships to academic staff and students. A full list of agreements is available on the website of the National Agency for Academic Exchange.
Bilateral programmes include, in particular, the Fulbright Programme, funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the US State Department and offering scholarships to US and Polish students and graduates for studies and research stays in the US or Poland; and the Lane Kirkland Scholarship Programme, funded by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and awarding scholarships for study at Polish HEIs to students coming mainly from former Soviet Union countries.
Other international and bilateral programmes
As part of the Fulbright Programme, the Polish-US Fulbright Commission offers scholarships for studies and research stays funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the US State Department. Scholarships are awarded to, among others, graduates of Polish HEIs who plan to take up, or have been enrolled on the first year of, Masters or PhD studies at US institutions (9 to 10 months); PhD students preparing their doctoral theses at Polish higher education or research institutions for a research project to be carried out at an US institution (6 to 9 months); and to US citizens for postgraduate studies or research at Polish higher education or research institutions (9 to 10 months).
Lane Kirkland Scholarship Programme
The Programme was launched in 2000, and is funded by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, and administered by the Leaders of Change Foundation. Scholarships (ca 50 per year) for studies at Polish HEIs are currently awarded to students from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and the Ukraine.
National programmes and initiatives
Studies abroad for outstanding Polish students and graduates
A Polish government programme ‘Studies for the Outstanding’ (Studia dla wybitnych’) was announced in 2015. It is designed to provide grants for studies at best international universities of the Shanghai Ranking (Academic Ranking of World Universities) for Bachelor’s degree programme graduates and outstanding students who have completed the 3rd year of a Master’s degree programme. The programme was suspended in 2016, and the Government is working to improve application and selection procedures for the programme.
Scholarship programmes / funds for international students
There are several government scholarship programmes open to students from Eastern Partnership and post-Soviet countries. They include, for example: the Konstanty Kalinowski Scholarship Programme; the Programme for specialist Eastern Studies students; and the Stefan Banach Scholarship Programme for second- and third-cycle studies.
A list of the main scholarship programmes for international students is available at:
The main two national scholarship programmes are the Stefan Banach Scholarship Programme for students from Eastern Partnership countries and the Ignacy Lukasiewicz Scholarship Programme for students from African and Asian countries. As part of Development Assistance for Sub-Saharan Africa, students may follow a degree programme in Poland on a fee-free basis. Details about the programmes are available in the ‘Go! Poland. Study in Poland’ portal.
Bilateral programmes / initiatives support various forms of youth cooperation and exchange, for example:
Polish-Lithuanian Youth Exchange Fund
The Polish-Lithuanian Youth Exchange Fund (Polsko-Litweski Fundusz Wymiany Młodzieży), managed by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, awards grants for projects supporting cooperation between Polish and Lithuanian youth to establish friendly cooperation between the two nations. The Fund was created in 2007, based on an agreement between the Polish and Lithuanian Governments, under the honorary patronage of the Prime Ministers of the two countries; funding comes from the budgets of both countries. The Fund provides financial (calls for applications) and content-related support (a training system, consultations) for the implementation of ideas proposed by young people. It supports youth exchanges, and seminars and training activities, involving youth, leaders and tutors, which introduce participants to the topic of non-formal and intercultural education and train them on how to manage a youth project. Through the implementation of joint projects young Poles and Lithuanians discover their common roots and overcome national stereotypes, build an atmosphere of cooperation and strengthen the bond between the two nations.
Polish-Ukrainian Youth Exchange
Polish-Ukrainian Youth Exchanges (Polsko-Ukraińska Rada Wymiany Młodzieży) take place as part of the Polish-Ukrainian Youth Exchange Council, are administered by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System, and are funded on a competitive basis. Projects include: preparatory and contact seminars which aim to help establish links with new partner organisations and develop new projects; youth exchanges, i.e. meetings for sharing thoughts and ideas, where non-formal education methods are used; youth meetings, i.e. organisation of events such as festivals, concerts and workshops; and information and promotion projects where participants develop products promoting Polish-Ukrainian cooperation.
Polish-German Youth Cooperation (Jugendwerk)
The Polish-German Youth Cooperation (Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk) organisation has been involved in youth exchange since 1991. It aims primarily to initiate and facilitate new links between Polish and German youth and to support and strengthen existing cooperation. The organisation receives funding from the budgets of the two countries. Funds are used to support various exchange and cooperation initiatives and programmes involving young people from Poland and Germany, and to carry out the organisation's own promotion and training programmes. Since its establishment, the organisation has provided funding for initiatives involving more than 2.7 million young people.
The quality of cross-border learning mobility projects is to a large extent in the responsibility of the institutions involved: schools and higher education institutions. There is no centrally-managed scheme of quality assurance, however most of the mobility programmes have their own quality assurance methods.