Developing the system that enables effective use of EU funds for science, package for the humanities, better preparation of students for the job market - these are some of the priorities of the Ministry of Science for 2014 announced by the Minister Lena Kolarska-Bobińska.

At press conference on Thursday, Minister of Science and Higher Education explained that one of the most important tasks of the Ministry would be to develop a system that would allow effective use of EU funds in science. "We want to develop a system for effective spending of EU funds, so that they bring tangible results. We call this program Innovative Science-Innovative Economy" - said Kolarska-Bobińska at the conference.

She added that scientists can now use a variety of funds, including regional programs, EU's Horizon 2020 programme, Erasmus+. But, as the minister noted, "universities are at lost with regard to using these funds".

"We can reach for large amounts, but one of the conditions is cooperation and collaboration of three communities: science, business and government. (...) Money from the EU can make the economy more innovative, but making the cooperation work is necessary" - she emphasised. She said that the information system for researchers and universities should be transformed into the system of mentoring and counselling.

Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Development Elżbieta Bieńkowska, who attended the conference, reminded that according to the government expectations, by 2020 expenditures on research and development should increase to 2 percent. "We want the Polish economy to move from imitative model to model innovation. We want to use innovation to compete in Europe and the world. This can not be done without a good level of higher education, good level of science and without a good connection between science and economy and business" - noted Bieńkowska.

Ministry of Science and Higher Education also intends to develop a system to support the entire process of implementation of inventions. "We want to give entrepreneurs vouchers for ordering courses from universities, in order to support not only specific research, but also the learning process" - announced Kolarska-Bobińska. Ministry of Science also plans to introduce so-called industrial doctorates. "Businesses in close cooperation with universities would have an opportunity to order doctoral research subjects, so that doctoral dissertations are created in collaboration with industry" - said the Minister of Science.

Another priority is bridging the gap between the job market and universities. "We will seek to ensure that universities do not release graduates who can not find their place in the job market, that they do not produce the unemployed" - said Kolarska-Bobińska. One of the planned changes will affect the ordered courses. "We need to consider, which are still required. We would like to include competence education in the ordered courses. Namely activities, which would, for example, teach communication skills" - emphasised the minister.

The Ministry also wants to make better use of internships and student placements. "There will be three-month compulsory placements in college. The point is that they should not only involve making coffee and passing time" - she said.

In addition, the ministry is preparing a special package for the humanities. "We plan to organize the so-called roundtable with humanities community in order to discuss the contents of this package" - explained Kolarska-Bobińska. According to her announcement, this discussion will take place on February 28. She admitted that the Ministry is considering the possibility of teaching humanities at all courses.

Kolarska-Bobińska announced that Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Education are preparing the program "Creative Student-Creative Citizen". "The idea is to develop innovative thinking, creative thinking throughout the educational system" - said the Minister. 

This year, the Ministry is also planning to introduce changes in the evaluation of research units and assessment of journals. "In March we will begin to discuss these matters with the Evaluation Committee in order to prepare new evaluation criteria. We know that the system requires considering which elements need to be changed" - admitted Prof. Kolarska-Bobińska.

She said that according to expectations, the amendment to the Law on Higher Education (now in the Sejm) should be ready in June. "This will give us the tools to carry out a number of important activities, including the fight against plagiarism and dishonesty. If we are talking about improving the quality of education, it also includes fight against pseudo-colleges and pseudo-education" - noted the Minister.

The Ministry is also planning to launch a website that would contain information about all universities in Poland. It would provide a variety of information about higher education institutions, which in the future would allow high school graduates and their parents evaluate schools.

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