Looking at the annual rankings of Polish universities and colleges, 2003-2015 (Part One)
By Mark Wegierski
In 2003, I first became aware of the annual rankings of Polish universities and colleges put out jointly by the mass-circulation newspaper Rzeczpospolita and the student/education magazine, Perspektywy ( perspektywy.pl ). Of course, there are a number of college rankings in Poland put out by different publications and institutions, but this one seemed to be among the most rigorous and comprehensive.
It should be noted, that in a 2013 survey, Perspektywy was chosen as "the most opinion-forming monthly publication" in Poland. It was also identified as such in a 2015 survey.
I had perused the Perspektywy website frequently during the summer of 2003 from Canada, as well as later in the fall of 2003, when I visited Poland. I was accessing the Internet through the Polish Post Office Internet café in Ciechocinek, the resort-town in which I was staying. Ciechocinek lies about 200 kilometers north-west of Warsaw. It is a resort town of about 14,000 permanent residents, known for its unique titration towers, which filter water from salt-water springs through layers of bramble, creating a micro-climate resembling that of sea-air. The Post Office had a glassed-in addition on the side where the computers were sitting. I suspect the Internet access in the Post Office was an attempt to fulfill the promise that had been made by the government at the time, to give every Polish person, access to the Internet.
Returning to Poland in the summer of 2004, I noticed that the 2003 rankings had remained up on the website for an inordinately long time.
In 2005, I had an acquaintance send me a print copy of the annual rankings issue. I have continued to receive the annual rankings issue since that year (except for 2008, when there was some kind of mix-up on the part of my various acquaintances in Poland). In contrast to the situation in 2004, most of the rankings information was available on the website shortly after the appearance of the print issue.
In 2010, I also branched out to requesting three other publications of Perspektywy Press: one on M.A.-level studies; one on doctoral, MBA, and "post-degree" studies; and one on "first-degree" studies. The latter publication claimed to list every institution of post-secondary learning in Poland.
In 2011, I had publications on M.A. and doctoral-level studies; on MBA and "post-degree" studies; and on "first-degree" studies, delivered to me. Apart from the 2011 annual rankings issue, I also obtained the June-August 2011 issue of Perspektywy – which included a Report on Non-public Colleges, on the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the first fully non-public college in Poland -- as well as a ranking of MBA programs in Poland.
In 2012, I received the annual rankings issue (May 2012); a publication on "first-degree" studies; as well as a publication on MBA and "post-degree" studies – which also included a ranking of MBA programs in Poland.
In 2013, I had only received the annual rankings issue (May 2013).
In 2014, I had received only the annual rankings issue (May 2014). As of 2014, the association with Rzeczpospolita appeared to have been dropped, in favour of a partnership with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (Law Gazette Daily).
In 2015, I received only the annual rankings issue (May-June 2015).
What were the main impressions that I had from all this material? I must say that I had a largely positive feeling, looking at these very professionally produced publications, which showed a colorful, vibrant Polish educational sector that had gone light-years beyond the achievements of the earlier People's Republic. Nevertheless, I also saw plenty of evidence of "political correctness" seeping in at many points into this Polish educational sector. The emphases on "internationalization" of universities and colleges, of conforming to E.U. regulations, of the aggressive promotion of multiculturalism, and so forth, were easy to discern.
To be continued.
(An earlier version of this article has appeared at Quarterly Review (UK) (September 28, 2012).)