The day of October 30, 2019, has a chance to go down in the history of our university. On that day, we found out that our application in the “Initiative of Excellence – Research University” competition was considered one of the best. Why is this so important? The competition was to select a group of universities specializing in the highest quality research. Due to the high evaluation of the application of the University of Wrocław, in the years 2020-2026, we will receive a ministerial subsidy increased by 10% to finance the changes proposes in the project. A mid-term evaluation will be carried out in 2023, and a final one in 2026. The university will be able to apply for an extension of funding for 2027-2032 if both evaluations are positive.
The University of Wrocław is already among the top ten best public universities in Poland. So why do we want to introduce significant changes in its life, concerning many areas, described in the application? Not only because the Ministry expects it. Above all, we ourselves see clearly that we have to remove the barriers that in the changing world block our research, weaken the transfer of the latest knowledge to students, and hinder cooperation with the environment.
The university’s proposed and highly-regarded programme of change at the university provides for the following priority tasks:
– support for the hitherto existing “areas of excellence” in research (Priority Research Areas) so as to increase their impact both in the international space and in the University of Wrocław community;
– creation of new research teams actively participating in world science and responding with their research to the needs of the social environment;
– the development of individualized education, providing access to the latest global knowledge, for students and doctoral candidates so as to promote their future participation in scientific life;
– active promotion of quality culture in the personnel policy and introduction of an effective system of university management oriented towards clearly defined strategic objectives.
Priority Research Areas
The multitude of disciplines practiced at our university gives us a unique opportunity to conduct broad, interdisciplinary research. The synergy effect results in unique, individual research directions. The areas that have been most successful in terms of participation in the discourse of world science are listed in our application as “priority research areas” (new materials, big data and artificial intelligence, health- from gene analysis to drug design, a man between nature and culture, man- city and environment, multiculturalism). For a large group of related researchers, has been created the possibility to apply for „grant per grant”, i.e. university-based financial support for research preceding the application for external grants. A program to finance short stays abroad to establish or strengthen cooperation will also be launched. We have provided funds both for special scholarships and to cover the reduction of a didactic burden for employees conducting high-quality research under the Priority Research Areas.
We have decided to allocate considerable funds for creation of foundations for further development of research at the University of Wrocław. We especially emphasize the programme of financing the arrival of researchers from abroad. The guests will conduct seminars for researchers from the university, with whom they would like to cooperate or to strengthen their cooperation, and for students and doctoral students. This will contribute to the revival of international contacts, but above all, it will introduce a bigger part of our community to the world of scientific discourse.
We know that it is necessary to provide the university with appropriate equipment (experimental sciences) and allow everyone access to the latest, highest quality scientific information (humanities, social science). This goal is to be served by significant financial outlays, as well as wide environmental cooperation and integration of information about apparatus a library resources of all Wrocław universities.
Studies outside Priority Research Areas
Priority Research Areas are to extend to the University of Wrocław the number and range of knowledge areas well connected with the priority scientific world. But we are also convinced that further progress within the priority research areas would not be possible without the development of disciplines less visible in the world of science today. Therefore, the Incubators of Scientific Excellence will be established. They will be directed to teams with high development potential, operating primarily in disciplines with less effective research. They should be interdisciplinary in nature, supporting the cooperation of the Priority Research Areas with the disciplines so far less involved in their development. Teams of young employees with internationally recognized scientific achievements, under the direction of an experienced researcher, will receive high funds for research and international organizational activity. The main objective of the Incubators is to support researchers and disciplines with lesser international achievements, but ready to invest in their further development. In this way, we hope to break the unevenness of research advancement in various disciplines of the University of Wrocław. The “Initiative of Excellence- Research University” programme is an opportunity for everyone.
Management and Staff
We all know that currently, the barrier to our development is the University of Wrocław management system. That is why we have planned a thorough change of it. Our priorities are:
– subordinate current management activities to strategic objectives;
– transparency and predictability of administrative processes;
– support for the internationalization of universities at all levels;
– active, comprehensive and strategically-oriented support of grant applications and implementation;
– clear definition of the objectives of the university administration’s activities, i.e. active support of scientific research and development of research-related academic didactics.
An essential element of the changes will be a new approach to human resources management at the University of Wrocław. Professionalization of the administrative staff must go hand in hand with financial aspects which will encourage employees to use their initiative in the implementation of the University of Wrocław strategic objectives. Recruitment of the scientific staff cannot be oriented towards the reproduction of posts in the didactic structure but must be justified by the strategic objectives of the university. Therefore, its course will be consistent with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers. The university’s staff must be recruited only by researchers conducting the highest quality research. All those who are committed to improving the international position of the university in the field of research and teaching must feel a corresponding increase in their income. The research university’s programme also makes it possible to finance this objective.
Teaching process and young staff
All these activities must be accompanied by the modernization of the educational process so that the University of Wrocław students can learn the latest world knowledge from us. They are to serve this purpose:
– establishing uniform five-year master’s degree studies related to Priority Research Areas;
– developing education through tutoring and continuously increasing the teaching competence of the staff;
– increasing the number of English language courses in study programmes to integrate Polish and foreign students;
– strengthening the link between education at the Doctoral School and participation in international research, supported by university grants directing doctoral students to the best research centres for internships an conferences.
What will the University of Wrocław be like in 2026?
I believe that in 2026 the university will be a better place for everyone: for research staff, doctoral students, students, and administrative staff. Our goal is to support all those who want to build innovation, creativity, and openness in our community. Our university has a chance to become a key participant in social, cultural, and economic change, involving the environment in regional, national, and European dimensions. Soon the walls of our university will resound in different languages, host world-class research teams, and create the best possible working conditions for all of us. Our community has a chance to become a free university – bold in creating, open in scientific discussion, and engaged in relations with students. The this University of Wrocław will be our common pride.
The author of the text is prof. dr hab. Przemysław Wiszewski, Dean of the Faculty of Historical and Pedagogical Sciences