Study and find schools in Poland

Poland, officially known as the Republic of Poland, is a sovereign country in Central Europe, with a total geographic area of just over 120,000 square miles, making it the ninth-largest country in Europe by area and the 69th largest country in the world.  The country is bordered to the west by Germany, to the south by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to the east by Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine and to the north by the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave.  Poland is a unitary state made up of sixteen voivodeships and is a member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization, among others.  The capital and largest city in Poland is Warsaw.
As of the last census in 2011, Poland had an estimated population of 38.1 million, making it the eighth largest country in Europe by population and the sixth-largest in the European Union.  Poland historically was very ethnically diverse, but that changed during and after World War II.  Their Jewish population, for example, because of the Holocaust, shrank from 3 million before the war to 300,000, and the post-war boundary changes, coupled with the expulsion of minorities have led to a very homogenous society.  According to the last census, 96 percent of the population self-identifies as being ethnically Polish.  The largest minority groups in the country include the Silesians, Germans, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Russians, Roma, Jews, Lemkos, Slovaks, Czechs and Lipka Tatars, in order of prevalence.
Polish is the lone official language of Poland and is used in government, education, media, courts and commerce.  It is also spoken as a first language by nearly all of the population.  Up until the 1980s, Russian was the language taught most frequently as a second language in Polish schools, but it has now been replaced by English and/or German.  Up until World War II, Poland was also very diverse religiously, a country in which substantial Jewish, Protestant and Christian Orthodox minorities coexisted with a Roman Catholic majority.   However, after the Holocaust and the post-war expulsion and flight of Germans and Ukrainians, Poland has now become overwhelming Roman Catholic, with nearly 90 percent of the population practicing that faith.
Education in Poland
Education in Poland is overseen by the national government and largely administered at the local level.  Public education is free and compulsory for students between the ages of 6 and 16, and the system is divided between five main levels:  pre-primary, primary education, middle school upper secondary school and tertiary or higher education.
All students are required to have at least one year of schooling prior to entering primary school at age 6 or 7.  This is called “0 Grade” or kindergarten and serves to prepare students for primary school by teaching them how to work and play cooperatively with other students among other skills.
Primary school in Poland begins at age 6 or 7 and spans six years (grades 1-6).  At the conclusion of primary school, all students must take a written exam which determines the type of middle school they will attend for the next three years of their education.
Middle schools in Poland, also called gymnasium offer three years of education, typically beginning at age 13.  Students are placed based on their performance in primary school and the score on the final compulsory exam.  After completing the final year of middle school, students once again must take a compulsory examination, on which their score and their grades in gymnasium will determine the type of upper secondary institution they will attend.
Upper secondary education in Poland is provided mostly by liceums and technikums.  At the liceum students will study a general academic curriculum that spans three years, ultimately preparing them to enroll in a university upon graduation.  At the technikums, on the other hand, while students are still offered a basic academic education, the true focus of these institutions is on vocational training, with the goal of readying students to enter the workforce with a marketable skill or trade upon graduation.  Unlike the liceums, the curriculum at the technikums spans four years rather than three.
Since 2007, the universities in Poland have been following the credit and degree structure recommended by the Bologna Process.  This structure, which aims to standardize the degree system at universities throughout the European Union, features a three-year Bachelor Degree, followed by a two-year Master degree program and a three-year PhD degree.

Language Courses in Poland

There are lots of Polish language schools as well as language immersion courses in Poland. Such schools and courses are a valuable device for anybody seeking to work as a translator seeking to make a living by offering translation services from English to Polish or from Polish to English. This could prove extremely useful to a foreigner who wishes to win a contract in Poland.

That being said, Polish is not the easiest language to learn. It is a Balto-Slavic language that is closer to Russian than any other European language. Russian itself is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn and Polish is no different.  Another challenge for English speakers is an alphabet that is very different apart from a grammatical structure that has little in common with the English syntax.

Growing Popularity of Language Immersion Courses in Poland

Language immersion, simply put, is the method of learning a subject such as management using the Polish language. This is considered one of the best ways of learning a language and the culture of that language.
Polish language schools have done good business and language immersion courses in Poland have done especially well since 2004, when Poland entered the EU and consequently gave a boost to international business. This also meant a boost to the local language schools while translators stood to earn 6 to 16 cents a word.

Teaching Strategies at Language Schools in Poland

Teachers at language schools are primarily native speakers of the language who have graduate degrees. The immersion courses are aimed at making the learner comfortable living and working in Poland and emphasize cultural integration. They achieve this with Polish language props such as maps, calendars, pictures, signs, etc. They also usually have a well-equipped library of audio and video tools apart from games and books.
Usually the trainer emphasizes the use of the Polish language as far as possible. There is no overt attempt to teach grammar; rather, the student is expected to pick up the rules through observation. There is an emphasis on encouraging the student to think in Polish, and iterative vocabulary building is done by exposing the student to progressively more complex conversational situations. There are also online courses developed for those who are not very comfortable in a classroom environment.
Often the prices for such courses are negotiable especially if you chose to learn from a local rather than a language school. One-on-one conversation based learning sessions are especially popular as they are based on a practical approach aimed at helping you learn quickly. There are also “immersion” packs tailored according to the particular needs of a student.
Are Private Tutors Effective?

There are private tutors as well who are doing great business by teaching Polish to foreigners.  They offer private as well as group lessons, particularly in the capital, Warsaw, and surrounding areas. Such lessons are given using various devices such as pictures, CDs and books. Among their customers are diplomats from foreign embassies, foreign employees of multinational companies with offices in Poland. Typically, in this method of teaching, the instructor becomes a friend rather than a teacher.  Therein lies his effectiveness.

Schools that offer language courses in Poland

Centre for Polish Studies

Warsaw, Poland
Centre for Polish Studies is a language school, operating in the cities of Sopot and Warsaw, Poland. It offers courses for Erasmus students, evening courses, as well as individual learning options in the Polish language. The school takes special pride in its well-experienced teachers, who are native speakers with good qualifications to teach the language to foreign students. The teaching methods of the institution take into account all aspects of language learning - reading, writing, speaking and comprehension. The teaching materials used include excerpts from the most recent... See full description.

Department of International Polish Studies, Jagiellonian University

Krakow, Poland
The department of International Polish Studies (IPS) is a subsidiary of Polish Studies offered at Jagiellonian University. IPS is a program to cultivate an international outlook and multicultural awareness among students. Moreover, there is an all new MA program in Polish Studies, Jewish Studies and History consisting of two years of full time study. One of the scholarships offered by IPS is the Lane Kirkland Scholarship. It is an exchange activity which began in 2000 by the aid of the Polish American Freedom Foundation (PAFF). Jagiellonian University is ascribed by the United States... See full description.

Career Colleges and Vocational Schools in Poland

All career colleges and vocational schools in Poland operate under the watch of the Ministry of National Education and Sport. While the ministry regulates matters relating to education, financial and administrative matters, on the other hand, are looked after by states and district authorities. Government regulation of vocational education has increased, significantly, in the last decade or so.
Growth of Vocational Education In Poland
Vocational education has become a necessary response for Poland’s educators even as they grapple with the challenges posed by an aging population as well as increased labor force needs, resulting as a direct consequence of globalization.
As a result, Polish students have a host of post-secondary (grammar) vocational schools in Poland to choose from. Secondary school graduates, who seek employment as skilled manual workers, or equivalent thereof, can enroll in post-secondary career colleges. In Poland, these vocational training institutions constitute a significant part of the Polish secondary school system, and they help students acquire specializations that require secondary school qualifications.
Students have three types of vocational schools in Poland to choose from. First, there are public schools that are owned by the state. Next, there are privately owned non-public schools. Last, but not least, Polish students can opt to study in non-public schools that are accorded state-school status.
The Ministry of National Education has also facilitated post-grammar vocational training institution programs that have defined durations of up to three years; however, the duration of a particular course would depend on the nature of occupation sought by enrolling students. Just as in other Polish colleges, the courses in these schools run from September to June. On the successful completion of courses, students are awarded diplomas. These schools offer both part-time and full-time programs thereby making them amenable to working adults who wish to study.
Qualification Criteria for Vocational Training in Poland
Students aspiring to enroll in these vocational education programs are required to complete secondary school before they enter. Additionally, programs for medical education require an enrolling student to hold a school leaving certificate.  Such enrollment can be done online, and the single system of schooling in Poland makes it easy to have a single on-line application service for students who wish to enroll.
Post-grammar vocational schools in Poland were first introduced in the 1970s. In a bid to protect students from being exploited by unscrupulous providers of vocational education, both public and privately owned schools are regulated by the Ministry of National Education and Sport. Government regulations require schools to only offer vocational training in approved areas. 
Encouragement to Private Vocational Schools in Poland
Additionally, the government has sought to increase the credibility of privately owned schools by enhancing them to state-owned status, on the completion of certain requirements.
Thus, there cannot be any change in the basic curriculum of a privately owned vocational school from that of a government-owned one. Documents, including learner transcripts, are required to be preserved for ever. Qualifications of teachers are defined uniformly for both types of career college in Poland, as are the grading and promotion schemes.
However, the Ministry does not impose any restrictions on the use of teaching methods employed in private post-grammar vocational schools enjoying public-institution status. This enables these career colleges to differentiate themselves and attract enrollments.

List of career colleges and vocational schools in Poland

Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design

Cracow, Poland
Cracow School of Art & Fashion Design was founded in 1989 as an art & design fashion institute residing in Krakow, Poland. It has six major disciplines: Fashion Design, Photography, Interior Design, Visual Merchandising, Drama and Choreography. Graduates from the institute work as fashion designers, fashion photographers and illustrators. The institute offers two & two and a half year full time programs, which are formulated by professionals who keep in mind the market requirements and the students’ needs. Students of photography are exposed to techniques as liquid light photography,... See full description.

Online degree, online courses and distance learning schools in Poland

Poland has three types of schools; these are public, non-public and non-public accorded public status. All education, including higher education, is regulated by the government. In order to regulate the system of higher education, the Polish Government has passed the Act of 27 July 2005: Law on Higher Education.
Regulations Governing Distance Learning Schools In Poland
Distance learning schools in Poland are governed by the Ministry of Science and the Higher Education Regulation of 25 September 2007, according to which, up to 80% of the online courses that employ distance learning may be provided only by institutions authorized to confer postdoctoral degrees. Such institutions are allowed to issue online degrees in relation to online courses in Poland, relating to 60% of all subjects. 
Prior to the passing of the new law, the ministry allowed just two Warsaw-based non-public institutions to confer postdoctoral degrees, while there were as many as 12 nonpublic institutions authorized to issue the same. No other non-public institutions were authorized to run distance education schools with online courses or issue online degrees in Poland.
Higher education in Poland comprises
  • ‘first-cycle’ or undergraduate programs,
  •  second-cycle or graduate programs,
  • and third-cycle or doctoral programs. 
Poland’s educational laws allow an institution classified as a university to confer doctoral degrees in 12 disciplines or more, with tertiary education institutions adhering to the regulations of the Bologna Declaration.
During the academic year, 2007/08, the total number of tertiary educational institutions in the country was 455, up from 355, merely six years earlier. A large majority of these (exceeding 71%) are non-public. However, among non-public institutions there are just 5 universities and technical universities; contrast this figure with 35 such institutions among public schools, pointing clearly to the fact that non-public schools do not enjoy the credibility of public schools.
Foreign Students Boost Online Courses In Poland
About 23% of students in tertiary education are in the field of business and administration, making it the most popular area of specialization. There has been a huge increase in the number of foreign students undergoing tertiary education in Poland in recent years, including in distance learning schools.
As already stated, earlier, very few institutions were allowed to conduct online courses and issue online degrees in Poland. The new regulations seek to do away with this anomaly and ensure that all institutions delivering tertiary education are allowed to operate as distance learning schools, teaching up to 60% of all subjects pertaining to a specific course of learning.  This means that they can use up to 60% of the total class hours taught, excluding practical training and laboratory classes.
Some observers feel that the proposal doesn’t go far enough and maintain that it doesn’t do justice to the essence of distance learning that aims at providing education to a student without insisting on his physical presence in a college, thereby allowing such a student to earn an online degree by doing online courses.
This makes such education accessible to students who do not reside in academic centres who can enroll in distance learning schools. It also makes education less expensive by doing away with the cost of moving and living at the new location.
The new law is a step towards recognizing this fact and can only lead to greater educational reform in the future, thereby making distance learning schools in Poland a reasonable option.

Primary and Secondary Schools in Poland

The current primary and secondary school education system in Poland was established following the reforms of 1999. Under the present system, education is compulsory until the age of 18. Upon completing at least one year of kindergarten and no later than the age of seven, students must enroll into a primary school. The system mandates six years of primary school followed by three years in gymnasia (lower secondary schools). At the end of the third year of the gymnasia (9th grade), students take a compulsory examination to determine the upper secondary school they will attend.  There are many options for post gymnasia education, with a three year liceum or a four years technikum being the most common. Both are concluded with students taking a maturity examination called Matura, which is a standardised national secondary school achievement examination and determines eligibility for higher education.

Primary Education in Poland

Students must enrol for six years of primary schooling, no later than the age of seven as mentioned, and pass out at the age of 13.  Polish primary schooling comprises two stages.
  • Stage 1 includes grades one, two and three and is known as integrated teaching. This stage is structured to allow a smooth transition from pre-schooling to a formal schooling system.
  • Stage 2 includes grades four, five and six. Subject teaching is initiated during this stage and undertaken with an outlined timetable. The subjects covered include Polish, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, History, Civics, Foreign Language, Computer Sciences, Physical Ed., Music, Art and Ethics.

Apart from the above mentioned subjects in Stage 2, various “educational paths” are also introduced during primary schooling. The school administration bears the responsibility to include these in the curricula implemented by teachers. These education paths include health education, reading and media education, ecological education, education for family life, education for society, cultural education and patriotic and civic education.

There is no formal testing or examination of students during these six years and the age of the students primarily decides class composition. However, at the end of grade 6 they must take an exam to determine which lower secondary school or gymnasium they would be accepted in.

Secondary Education in Poland

Lower Secondary Schools have been established in the form of three-year gymnasia.  Further, in 2002, upper secondary schools were also introduced in Poland.
  • Lower Secondary Education: Also known as the gymnasium, it comprises students in grade seven, eight and nine. This program is full-time and obligatory for all students aged 13 to 16. At the gymnasium level, students are provided with a wide ranging, but basic level subject education. This educational stage aims at identifying the aptitude and interest of students in order to help them make better decisions regarding the educational course and vocation they wish to pursue in the future. The reforms also mandate learning two foreign languages at this level. English is usually one of them.
  • Upper Secondary Education: Students attend different kinds of post gymnasium schools depending on their aptitude, requirement and performance in the examination conducted at the end of gymnasium. Education in post gymnasium schools has a vocational focus and offers various alternatives such as the 3-year specialized lyceum and the 4-year secondary technical schools. Additionally there are also 2 to 3 years basic vocational schools which culminate in students obtaining a certificate of “Completion of Education in Basic Vocational School”.
Upon passing the Matura, or the end of secondary schooling, students receive świadectwo dojrzałości, which gives them the right to access higher education (college level). The only kind of post-primary school which doesn’t give access to higher education is the basic vocational school, the graduates of which may continue their education, should they choose to do so, in various complementary secondary schools such as a complementary lyceum or complementary technical secondary school. On completion of these, students can pass the Matura and thus become eligible for higher education.

List of primary and secondary schools in Poland

British International School Gdansk

Gdansk, Poland
British International School Gdańsk is an international school in Poland established in 2007. The school educates children from the ages 2.5 to 18. The institution is based on the British educational system, for which reason students take the GCSE and A Level examinations and apply to world-renown universities. All classes are conducted by native English speakers or well-qualified Polish tutors, who have gained teaching experience in the UK. British International School Gdańsk has become the first choice for international families in the city as well as for local citizens, who wish to... See full description.

Cities to study in Poland

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