Looking at the annual rankings of Polish universities and colleges, 2003-2015 (Part Four)
By Mark Wegierski
The main ranking is "the ranking of academic institutions" (88 in 2012; 83 in 2013). Another ranking is of non-public institutions that offer master's degrees (93 in 2012; 84 in 2013). A third ranking is of non-public trade-school institutions (that usually offer licentiates -- which are roughly the equivalent of an Anglo-American B.A.) as well as state trade-schools of higher learning (75 in 2012). This was divided into two categories in 2013 – state trade-schools of higher learning (29); and non-public licentiate schools (29). The drop in the number of institutions may have occurred because colleges that didn't fill out the survey forms requested are automatically dropped from the rankings.
In 2014, all non-public licentiate institutions were dropped from the rankings. Thus, 88 "academic institutions", 80 "non-public institutions that offer master's degrees", and 27state trade-schools of higher learning, were included in the issue.
In 2015, 87 "academic institutions", 70 "non-public institutions that offer master's degrees", and 30 state trade-schools of higher learning, were included in the issue.
Despite the large number of colleges included in the rankings (especially prior to 2014), it's clear to me (from the separate publications on "first degree" studies) that a considerable number of colleges have been left off the ranking lists, which, of course, is just as it should be.
For a more reflective person, perusing the annual ranking issues, as well as the other publications mentioned above, can provide many hours of intellectual enjoyment. It is a bit amusing to see those colleges located in various smaller towns, to remind oneself where the small town lies in Poland, and to try to envision how the college fits into the small town. Also, with the ubiquity of the Internet, one can check out the websites which virtually every college now has, if one is curious about one or another of them – and possibly see the actual physical buildings through an Internet tool like Google Earth.
I personally remember how difficult it was to obtain information even about major universities like the Jagiellonian in the early 1990s. Now, the information is readily available on the Internet, and one doesn't have to rely so much on one's relatives or acquaintances to keep current.
It is of some interest to me whether there might be appearing, in the future, assessments of Polish universities and colleges in a style similar to those put out by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute ( isi.org) in the United States (about American – and a few Canadian -- colleges). The moderately traditionalist ISI publishes a Guide to Universities and Colleges which emphasizes the colleges which uphold humane learning and resist the excesses of "political correctness". The time may be coming in Poland where such a Guide to Polish universities and colleges might in fact be helpful to some students. Perhaps some more patriotic-minded think-tank in Poland could take up the task.
It may be seen as somewhat ironic, that after the waves of Communist attempts to undermine free academic inquiry in Poland, there appear to be taking place now, new waves of attempts to set the higher-education system in certain "politically correct" directions. Nevertheless, I still feel the academic situation in regard to the imposition of "p-c" is considerably better in Poland, than, for example, in Canada.
(An earlier version of this article has appeared at Quarterly Review (UK) (September 28, 2012).)
Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher.