Poland’s education system has seen some extraordinary changes in recent years. Following a huge drive in the nation’s pursuit of a world-class schooling system in recent years, Poland is now home to around 500 higher education institutions. Many of these institutions are specialised, unlike a lot of European universities which tend to follow the traditional model of teaching and research in a wide range of disciplines.
In the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Poland’s education system was ranked 10th best in the world, an indication of just how quickly the country has developed since the collapse of communism in 1989.
The increasing prestige of Poland’s higher education system is not the only thing the country has to offer. With a number of universities offering English language courses, as well as low living costs, a rich cultural legacy and beautiful scenery, it easy to see why Poland is fast becoming a very popular place to study.
Among Poland’s academic alumni are some names you may be familiar with, including the first female Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie (who is also the only woman to have won it twice), world-famous director Roman Polanski, composer Frederic Chopin and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
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Poland’s top institutions
Each of Poland’s major towns and cities plays host to at least one of the country’s higher education institutions.
Universities in Warsaw
The capital, Warsaw, is home to four major universities, including the prestigious University of Warsaw. A leading academic centre, this university has grown in response to the demand for education in Poland; between 1985 and 2005 the number of students more than quadrupled.
Today the university’s 19 faculties are primarily located on the university’s Main Campus and Natural Sciences Campus, although university buildings can be seen throughout the capital.
2016 marks the University of Warsaw’s 200-year anniversary, making it the capital’s oldest university and it is widely regarded as one of Poland’s finest institutions.
The capital is also home to the Warsaw University of Technology, one of the country’s best technical institutions. This university also has 19 faculties, most of which are spread throughout Warsaw although there is a satellite campus in nearby Plock.
The Medical University of Warsaw, founded in 1950, is the country’s largest medical school and along with the various other higher education institutions in the city, it is easy to see why Warsaw is becoming a great city for students.
Universities in Krakow
Poland’s second largest city, Krakow, is home to around 180,000 students, making it one of the country’s major education hubs.
Jagiellonian University is well-known in Poland, not only because it is the country’s oldest university – founded in 1364 and one of the 20 oldest universities in the world – but also because it was where astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus first studied.
When Poland became a member of the European Union, more funding became available for the Polish education system which allowed Jagiellonian University to expand and today the university has almost 50,000 students and 4,000 academic staff among its 15 faculties.
Krakow’s other high-ranking institution is the AGH University of Science and Technology (AGH UST), which actually started life as a university for mining. Today the university is home to more than 33,000 students and is regarded as one of the best technical universities in Poland. AGH UST has 16 departments, and while many of them are linked to the fields of metallurgy, engineering and the sciences, the university also teaches courses in subjects including sociology and history.
Other places to study in Poland
Consistently ranked among the country’s best universities, the Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU) was established in 1919 and is located in the cultural town of Poznan in western Poland.
A year after it was established as University of the Piasts the institution was renamed Poznan University. In fact, the university was closed in 1939 following the annexation of Poznan by the Nazis and was reopened as a German University between 1941 and 1944.
The university reopened after the end of the Second World War and changed to its current name in memory of Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz, one of Poland’s most famous sons. Today students make up 25 per cent of the town’s population and AMU boasts the largest number of full-time academic staff in Poland.
The northern city of Gdansk is also home to one of the country’s best universities, namely the Gdansk University of Technology, which is one of Poland’s oldest institutions and teaches a number of courses in English.
Top universities in Poland 2017
|Poland Rank||World University Rank||University|
|=1||501-600||University of Warsaw|
|=1||501-600||Warsaw University of Technology|
|=3||601-800||AGH University of Science and Technology|
|=5||801+||Adam Mickiewicz University|
|=5||801+||Gdańsk University of Technology|
|=5||801+||University of Łódź|
|=5||801+||Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń|
|=5||801+||University of Silesia in Katowice|