On Wednesday afternoon in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius was held an inauguration of academic year 2016/2017 in a Vilnius department of the University in Bialystok. The ceremony was held in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius.
“It is a joyful holiday for an academic community in the entire world, for an academic community in Poland and Lithuania as well. We have this privilege, that Polish academic community can inaugurate an academic year in Vilnius. Our department is the first branch of a foreign university in Lithuania and the first department of a public higher school outside Poland. It is a reason to be proud, but it is also a difficult challenge” – welcomed all gathered audience the dean of the Department of Economics and Informatics in Vilnius Mieczysław Zdanowicz PhD.
“The mission of our department is to educate the youth at a very good level in Polish language, in order to make them able to meet the needs of the contemporary, difficult labour market. Moreover, the mission of our department is to carry out scientific research, which will contribute to discover the world, and maybe even help to sort out its crucial problems” – the dean added.
Conferences, workshops, world-famous guests
The ceremony was also participated by the vice-rector for education Wojciech Śleszyński PhD.
“On behalf of the entire academic community of the University of Bialystok and my own I express warm wishes for a starting new academic year 2016-2017. I would like to express words of appreciation for a dynamic development of the Department of Economics and Informatics in Vilnius. Undoubtedly, it is a fact which is worthy to be emphasized. Connected to the challenge which higher education has to face” – highlighted the vice-rector.
“The attention should be put on the dynamic which shows the scientific environment for realization significant, research projects and organizing conferences and workshops. Hosting world-famous specialists” – noticed Wojciech Śleszyński PhD.
The ceremony was also participated by representatives of Polish community, during which was handed master’s and bachelor’s diplomas.
Dr. Hab.Karol Karski gave an inauguration lecture “Leaving the European Union. Legal and economic aspects of “Brexit”.
This year 460 students started to study at the Department of Economics and Informatics of the University of Bialystok in Vilnius.
History of the University
The idea of bringing into being the branch of the University in Bialystok in Vilnius (UwB) appeared, among others, from the need of sorting out one of a serious problem of Poles in Lithuania.
In 1991 on the initiative of Lithuanian Poles was brought into being a Polish University in Vilnius, which was not recognised by Lithuanian authorities. The process of teaching in this university was mainly based on the following way, its students – Poles from Lithuania – under the name of Lithuanian university studied in Polish higher schools and received diplomas of these schools, which were not recognised by Lithuania.
“This problem concerns hundreds of young people – says Wołkonowski. –There were legal actions, one case reached Strasburg, but we did not achieved anything”. Then the association of Polish Academics in Lithuania suggested to create the branch of UwB in Vilnius, which might would be able to overtake functions and assets of the Polish University in Vilnius.
“Grateful to both Lithuanian and Polish authorities sympathy such branch was brought into being and one of many problems of Poles in Lithuania was solved in a positive way. – says Wołkonowski.
Poles and education
A serious argument – both for Lithuanian and Polish side – supporting bringing into being the branch was data which indicated, that Poles in Lithuania constitute the poorest educated community in the country.
According to the data from 2001, for every 1000 inhabitants of Lithuania fall 126 people with higher education, whereas for every 1000 Poles living in Lithuania – only 63 people have higher education, it indicates that there are two times less educated Poles than the country average. Jarosław Wołkonowski says “more educated than us were Lithuanians, living in Lithuania Russians, Ukrainians, Crimean Karaites, Jews, behind us were only Romani”.
The Department of Economics and Informatics in Vilnius of the University in Bialystok, which educates in economics, informatics and European studies, within 10 years was graduated by 550 students. “We have our impact in the process of improving the level of education Lithuanian Poles” – indicates Wołkonowski. “And even though – as he stresses –it is difficult for us to compete with country’s universities, we gather momentum and we have already had our achievements”.
In this year ranking assessment expressed by students of their universities, the Vilnius branch of the Polish University captured the first place. Within the graduates of the branch, in comparison to other higher schools in the country, is a lover unemployment rate. In a previous year only 4 people, less than one percent, after graduating from the Vilnius branch of UwB was registered in the labour market, and more than 90 percent of its graduates stays in Lithuania. Another success was to activate master studies in the field of economics two years ago.
The middle class and a material base
“Our aim is to build a dynamic middle class of a Polish society in Lithuania” – indicates Wołkonowski.
One of the most important task for the upcoming years is to strengthen the local scientific personnel, because nowadays from over 50 lecturers, 30 commute from Bialystok. A task for the next year is to change the localisation of headquarters of the university.
“Our material base is on a critical level. This was appointed by the western experts during the last accreditation and we have six years to sort out this problem, but 1.5 has already passed.” – says vice-dean of the Department and with a hope he points that Lithuanian authorities promised to help us in sorting out this problem in the nearest future.
The Department of Economics and Informatics in Vilnius of the University in Bialystok is only one foreign university in Lithuania, but also the only department of a Polish public university prospering abroad. The activity of the department is founded from a Polish budget of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The university also uses grands from Lithuania.
Tłumaczenie by Aneta Banacka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Aneta Banacka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.