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Education of PhD students – introduction

    The entry into force of the Act of July 20, 2018, the Law on Higher Education and Science[1] (ustawa z dnia 20 lipca 2018 r. Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce, Dz. U. 2018 poz. 1668, z późn.) introduced many changes in the system of educating doctoral students. Due to the parallel operation of doctoral schools and doctoral studies, as well as both new and old procedures for awarding a doctoral degree, the current regulations may still be unreadable for doctoral students. The group that is particularly exposed to the lack of sufficient knowledge in this field includes doctoral students who are foreigners.

    Firstly, they are subject to the regulations that regulate the status of all doctoral students, including Polish ones, and to specific regulations that regulate the rights and obligations of only foreign doctoral students. In the aforementioned act on higher education, the entire part VIII Foreigners in the system of higher education and science (Art. 323 – 341) was devoted to the issues of foreign doctoral students.

    Undoubtedly, it should be remembered that foreign doctoral students can be divided into two main groups: doctoral students from EU Member States and doctoral students who do not have EU citizenship. The former will usually be treated like PhD students – Poles, which puts their legal situation in a better light than PhD students who do not come from the Member States. This applies in particular to easier access to a doctoral loan, exemptions from fees or taking up a job. I strongly believe that this situation should be changed and the Polish legislator should treat everyone equally.

    In addition, all foreign doctoral students may have a problem with finding help at Polish universities,   in particular contacts with the supervisor, and even how to find help in the event of a conflict between the doctoral student – university authorities or the supervisor. Undoubtedly, such assistance should primarily be provided by the university. However, the legislator should consider introducing legal regulations that would better protect foreigners in the Polish higher education system. Undoubtedly, foreigners – students and doctoral students offer a chance for innovation for Polish higher education

    Summing up, educating foreign doctoral students is a challenge for the Polish legislator. Foreign doctoral students are subject to regulations that are common to all doctoral students and to special regulations. Equal treatment of all doctoral students should be strived for, as well as greater involvement in helping foreign doctoral students. Support must include both legal and practical aid

    Witold Pawełski

    Local Ambassador for PhD Students’ Rights


    ustawa z dnia 20 lipca 2018 r. Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce, Dz. U. 2018 poz. 1668, z późn. Zmianami, ostatnie wejście 10.11.2021

    Ministerstwo Edukacji i Nauki. (2020), Konstytucja dla Nauki w języku angielskim. Retrieved from last entrance: 15.11.2021

    The article was written in connection with the project „Local Ambassador for Doctoral Students’ Rights” which is organised by the Polish National Association of Doctoral Candidates with funding from the Ministry of Education and Science as part of the public task „Organising and animating activities for the academic community” in 2021.

    [1] ustawy z dnia 20 lipca 2018 r. Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce,  Dz. U. 2018 poz. 1668, z późn zmianami,, ostatnie wejście 12.11.2021

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