Poland is an ancient nation that was conceived near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements between 1772 and 1795, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. Poland regained its independence in 1918 only to be overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. It became a Soviet satellite state following the war, but its government was comparatively tolerant and progressive. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity" that over time became a political force and by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A "shock therapy" program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe, but Poland still faces the lingering challenges of high unemployment, underdeveloped and dilapidated infrastructure, and a poor rural underclass. Solidarity suffered a major defeat in the 2001 parliamentary elections when it failed to elect a single deputy to the lower house of Parliament, and the new leaders of the Solidarity Trade Union subsequently pledged to reduce the Trade Union s political role. Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country largely completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of Euro-Atlantic organizations.
The institutions of higher education in Poland operate the following types of courses of study:
professional higher studies (3-4 years): the graduates obtain a professional degree of licentiate or engineer; (BA)
master s studies (5-6 years); the graduate obtains, depending on the study course profile, a professional master s degree [magister] or an equivalent degree; (MA)
postgraduate master s studies (2-2.5 years) for graduates of professional higher studies; the graduate obtains a professional master s degree or an equivalent degree; (PhD)
doctoral studies (3-4 years): eligible candidates will be graduates of higher studies with a professional master s degree, working for an academic degree of doctor;
postgraduate studies (1-2 years) – for graduates of all types of HEI.
Institutions of higher education run full-time courses, extramural courses, evening courses and extern courses. The full-time mode is the basic system of studies.
There are two types of higher education institution:
university-type HEIs offering studies in the humanities, sciences, medical sciences, economics, pedagogy, the arts, and military studies;
Professional HEIs which educate students in specific professional areas and prepare them for practicing a profession.