New Academic Year at Polish Universities with Safety Measures
The final months of the past academic year involved major alterations to the mode of operation of universities on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the pandemic, most higher education institutions have decided that the teaching in the next term would either be provided remotely or combine remote and intramural classes. These solutions pertain to students from abroad, as well.
The current epidemiological situation in Poland means that education at universities has to follow COVID-related restrictions in the course of the new academic year, as well. Each institution takes its own independent decision on the form of education. According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the preferred form of education is the mixed model, where most classes, such as lectures or seminars, are held remotely. The remaining classes – which require intramural meetings – will be held on the campuses, yet with respect for safety measures.
Quarantine for Students?
One of the institutions that have decided to employ the mixed model is the University of Szczecin. The classes are going to be held with the use of distance education methods and techniques or in direct contact in the case of practical classes such as labs, field classes etc. Students who are visiting the University of Szczecin under the Erasmus+ Programme in the winter term of the academic year 2020/2021 will have online classes.
Education at the University of Warsaw will be organised similarly. Most classes – lectures, foreign language classes or exams – in the winter term are going to be held online, while lab or field classes as well as integration meetings for the first years will take place at the campus. The University of Warsaw admits the possibility of visits from students from abroad sent by foreign partner institutions to complete here a part of their curriculum, internship or training. Specific decisions will depend on the epidemiological situation in the region from which the student will be coming and the quarantine requirements in Poland. Arrivals of students of non-European institutions in the first term 2020/2021 are suspended or postponed until the second term.
The University of Economics in Katowice has decided that the classes in the winter term would be held online. Still, it admits the possibility of hybrid education in the case of study programmes and specialisations in English as well as of Euroclasses – while following safety measures. Study programmes in English are dedicated to students who participate in foreign exchange and to foreign students. For them, stay and completion of courses at the host university is a condition for receiving the scholarship.
Jagiellonian University offers education in three forms in the winter term of the academic year 2020/2021: intramural classes with elements of remote education, remote education with elements of intramural classes, and remote education. The first mode is employed, among others, at the Faculty of Chemistry, the second – at the Faculty of Law and Administration, and remote teaching – in the case of all study programmes taught in Polish at the Faculty of International and Political Studies. Meanwhile, programmes taught at that faculty in English – which will be attended by foreign students – will take place on the campus.
At the University of Wrocław, some foreign students have commenced their studies even before the inauguration of the academic year. Seventy-five students arrived earlier in order to take an intensive two-week Polish language course at the School of Polish Language and Culture in September. After the course, they should be able to communicate in Polish in basic matters. This year, 300 foreigners will start education at the University of Wrocław.
Minimising the Risk of Infection
According to the principle of autonomy, Polish universities are independent in their decisions regarding the organisation of education. This is why the methods of holding classes may vary from one institution to another. Yet regardless of the selected method of teaching, it is paramount for all higher education institutions to minimise the risk of infection among students, teachers and administrative staff.