23 SES 17 A, ‘Unity in Diversity’ in European H.E. Policies, Dominant Political Rationalities and (re)Articulations in Specific National Contexts
The paper addresses dynamics in the Polish academia in the context of the recent reform, highlighting contradictions between aspirations of political agents and institutional/individual concerns. Perhaps the leitmotif of the ongoing changes is the theme of internationalization as a lens through which one might grasp the ideological rationale of policymakers and adaptation strategies on different levels. While previous governments had already made internationalization a strategic objective (e.g. Ministry of Science and Higher Education, 2015), it constitutes now a hegemonic discourse with international university rankings and publication metrics seen as tools to measure the condition of the national HE system and professional value of academics. The first part provides an overview of the changes. The 2018 law officially promoted as “The Constitution for Science,” along with a number of regulations, have drawn their rationale from the current government’s stance towards the national development. This strategy seeks to pull the country’s economy out of the “middle-income trap” and to shift its international status away from what is considered a semi-peripheral position (see e.g. Wallerstein, 2000; 2004: 28–30 on the concept; Gawlicz & Starnawski, 2018, referring to education in CEE countries). The changes include reclassification of disciplines, new criteria for evaluating institutions and new principles in career development. The new policy generated critical responses, which culminated in nationwide protests in spring 2018 mainly among scholars of humanities and social sciences. The latter part of the paper focuses on specific understandings of internationalization, referring to examples of affirmative and sceptical public discourses as well as interviews with Polish scholars in humanities and social sciences, taken between 2015 and 2019 as a part of an international pilot study. The internationalization is not merely an institutional challenge but also a source of collective and individual concerns on the ground over preferred research focus, publishing choice (including language, style, outlets and the validity of a national perspective), mobility opportunities etc. Critics point to the question of a diminishing role of Polish as a language vital for humanities and social sciences, and to imitative nature of internationalization through adapting to the “rules of the game” dominated by Anglo-American institutions and “Western” academic culture. The somewhat paradoxical contradiction between the Ministry’s view of academic internationalization and the whole government’s visibly nationalistic approach in areas such as international politics, cultural policy and historical narrative, makes the question of the possible effects of this reform even more perplexing.
Gawlicz, K., & M. Starnawski (2018). Educational policies in Central and Eastern Europe: legacies of state socialism, modernization aspirations and challenges of semi-peripheral contexts, Policy Futures in Education, vol. 16(4), pp. 385–397. Ministry of Science and Higher Education (2015). Program umiędzynarodowienia szkolnictwa wyższego [Agenda for Internationalization of Higher Education], 18 June 2015, retrieved from: https://www.archiwum.nauka.gov.pl/aktualnosci-ministerstwo/program-umiedzynarodowienia-szkolnictwa-wyzszego.html Wallerstein, I. (2004). World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Wallerstein, I. (2000). Three Paths of Upward Mobility Within the Capitalist World-Economy. In: S. K. Sanderson (ed.), Sociological Worlds: Comparative and Historical Readings on Society. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers.
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