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Everything (else) what foreign student must know about studying in Poland

Posted by Damian Novitzky on 27/06/2019
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Since you know about the structure, credits and recruitment process, let’s talk about something, you probably will have to learn on your own. Like with everything else, there is a theoretical part and how things should look like, and the practical one – how it really is. And above all, most relevant and yet, most uncomfortable topic – money. In theory, studying at Polish state universities is free. Unfortunately, practically it’s a myth, but how much exactly will it cost you to acquire higher education? All that and more, you will know below, where I talk about everything (else) what foreign student must know about studying in Poland. Let’s check out a small summary!

Tuitions and finances

woman is holding purse, credit card in hands and calculating the costs

Public education in Poland is free for Polish students but unfortunately not for every foreign student. Full-Time studies in the Polish language are open for foreigners who commence studies in Poland on terms applicable to Polish citizens. These include citizens of the European Union and students with the Polish Charter (Karta Polaka). All other foreigners have to pay tuition fees (which are not exactly the cheapest):
– 2000€ per year for first, second and long cycle studies,
– 3000€ per year for doctoral, postgraduate and medical postgraduate internships as well as scientific, arts, specialist and post-doctoral internships,
– 3000€ per year for vocational courses and apprenticeships,
– 2000€ for a year for an annual preparatory Polish language course to commence studies in Polish.

Fees at public and non-public universities are established by the units themselves under the condition that they cannot be lower than the costs of the education process. The tuition fees range depending on the study program and institution itself. Students are also required to pay various other expenses to the university, for example for prolonging the examination session, taking a year-off, participation in obligatory camps and courses, field research, issuing a copy of the certificate in a foreign language etc.

A foreign student can study on the same terms as Polish citizens, only if:
– have been granted a residence permit (to stay longer in Poland),
– hold refugee status issued by the Republic of Poland,
– have been granted temporary protection within the borders of the Republic of Poland,
– are a migrant worker, EU/EEA national or a member of an EU/EEA migrant worker family
– have been granted an EU long-term residents residence permit,
– are an EU/EEA citizen with the right of permanent residence.

Student financial support

Yes, it all sounds expensive and difficult to arrange, but foreign students must know that they are not alone with this. There are several State budget financial support forms available for students studying on terms applicable to Polish citizens. They include:
– maintenance and assistance grants,
– a unique gift for disabled persons,
– scholarship as outstanding students, awarded by a rector,
– scholarship for academic achievement awarded by the minister, as well as for exceptional sporting achievement.

Polish academic calendar

Let’s talk about timetable but on the macro scale. The academic year in Poland is divided into two semesters of 15 weeks each. The winter semester starts in October and ends in February, with a break of about ten days for the Christmas holidays. The exams session usually takes two or three weeks, beginning in January. After that. The summer semester starts in February and ends in June, with a week break for the Easter holiday. Summer break lasts for three months, around from the end of June to the end of September. If you are lucky (or smart) enough, you can arrange your exams early, pass them quickly and adequately. Then you will enjoy nearly 3,5 month of free time from university. Everyone who fail exams in June, unfortunately, will have to retake the exams in September.                   

Examinations

All higher education institutions are required to end their courses with some sort of examinations. There may be several independent tests and exams in separate parts of a subject. Regularly exams are held oral or written, at the end of each semester during the examination session. Students take reviews in every subject separately, within different exams. The performance assessment period covers either one semester or a full year. To successfully complete a semester, a student must attain a pass mark, which is a settled minimum knowledge about the subject. The final grade includes the grade for the exam itself, but also from all assessments and examinations in the subjects covered within the curriculum.

Grading

Each Polish University identifies its grading scale in its Study Rules. The most common scale contains marks range from 5 to 2. The highest 5 is “very good” (in Polish bardzo dobry). Going below we’ve got, 4, “good” (dobry), 3 “satisfactory” (dostateczny). The last one, 2, is “unsatisfactory” (niedostateczny) and means fail passing the exam. From time to time, you can stumble upon the plus symbol (+). This decimal is used to modify the traditional grades. Although they are not directly transferable to the ECTS credits.

Safety and security in Poland

Most foreign students in Poland experience no difficulties. Statistically speaking, Poland has a really small number of violent crimes and a moderate level of street crime. Although it has to be pointed out, that dominant religion in Poland is Christianity, and Polish society is not exactly the most tolerant on the planet. Major cities have higher rates of crime, especially on the background of religion or race. But Poland is far from a high risk of terrorism. Like absolutely everywhere in the world, you should be careful about petty theft. This situation is particularly regular at main rail stations, in trains and public transport. Also, you should choose the official taxi operators. They have the name and telephone number of the company on the side of the door and on top. Avoid unregulated taxi drivers, especially at airports, because they are overcharging pretty hard.

Worth noticing is the fact that Poland is a country of many police restrictions. You can be fined by the police or by the municipal police for things that are ok in other countries. Most popular and student unfriendly is a ban on drinking alcohol in public places. Driving a bicycle under the influence is also prohibited, so once you decide to grab a beer with colleagues after courses, remember to go home by bus or take a walk.

Driving licence

If you’re a citizen of EU member, you just need to make sure you took it with you when you left home as it is valid in Poland. But If you have a driving licence issued outside the EU, you have to exchange it for the equivalent category. You must do so within six months of the date on which your permanent or temporary residence in Poland began. The procedure is chargeable, and you will have to pay produce proof of payment. If a driving licence issued abroad is not covered by the road traffic conventions. It is also obligatory to pass the theory part of the national exam and present a certified translation of the foreign licence.

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