AGH UST among 10 winners in competition to become research university

Photo by Ministry of Science and Higher Education

AGH UST is among 10 winners of the first competition within the framework of the programme “Initiative for Excellence – Research University”. The programme is one of the most important initiatives of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education specified in the Constitution for Science, whose aim was to decide on and support the schools of higher education that would aspire to the status of a research university, and ones that would have a chance to compete effectively with the best academic centres in Europe and around the world. 

The ceremony of presenting the results of the competition took place at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on 30th October 2019. During the gala ceremony, speeches were given by Jarosław Gowin, Minister of Science and Higher Education, professor Lauritz Holm-Nielsen, President of the international team of experts, and professor Maciej Żylicz, President of the Board of the Foundation for Polish Science. The ceremony was attended by professor Tadeusz Słomka, AGH UST Rector. 

From among 20 best universities in Poland that were entitled to enter the competition, the jury selected 10, which in the years 2020-2026 will receive a subsidy increased by 10%. The other universities that took part in the competition but were not among the winners will also receive some financial support – a subsidy increased by 2%. 

“It is very good news for us. An increase in funding for research projects will make it possible for the academic staff to focus more extensively on scientific activity. We hope that it will lead to more innovative solutions developed at AGH UST. We also hope that it will help us to compete more effectively with the universities at the top of international ranking lists,” said the AGH UST Rector. 

Laureates of the first competition within the framework of the programme “Initiative for Excellence – Research University” (in order of the number of obtained points):  

1. University of Warsaw  
2. Gdańsk University of Technology  

The next four universities obtained the same number of points: 

3. AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow  
4. Warsaw University of Technology   
5. Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań 
6. Jagiellonian University 
7. Medical University of Gdańsk 
8. Silesian University of Technology 
9. Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń 
10. University of Wrocław  

Universities taking part in the first competition “Initiative for Excellence – Research University” 

20 best universities in the country qualified for the first competition “Initiative for Excellence – Research University”. All of them had fulfilled statutory conditions related to the scientific categories obtained during the last complex evaluation of scientific units with reference to the number of fields and disciplines in which the university carries out scientific research. Moreover, either of the fields of study offered by the university could not have a negative evaluation of the Polish Accreditation Committee. 

The following universities qualified for the competition: AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk University of Technology, Łódź University of Technology, Silesian University of Technology, Warsaw University of Technology, Wrocław University of Science and Technology, University of Gdańsk, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Jagiellonian University, University of Łódź, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Medical University of Białystok, Medical University of Łódź, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Pedagogical University of Krakow, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, University of Warsaw, and University of Wrocław.  

International team of experts 

Each of the 20 universities was assessed by 15 distinguished experts. Among them there were individuals who have been rectors, presidents and vice-rectors of leading European universities, for example, Georg-August University of Göttingen, University of Amsterdam, Aarhus University, University of Manchester, and University of Southampton. Among the members of the team there were also scientists who enjoy a good reputation in the international scientific environment. The choice of experts was made in such a way that each academic discipline had a representative in the team. 

The members of the team have experience of working for institutions in different countries, for example, Germany, England, France, Spain, the Benelux countries, Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, and Hungary. Professor Lauritz Holm-Nielsen, President of the team, was a co-author of the report “Poland’s Higher Education and Science System”, prepared in 2017 within the framework of the programme Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility, carried out by the European Commission. (Biographical notes on the team members can be found on the website related to the appointment of the international team of experts for the purpose of the evaluation of applications in the first competition “Initiative for Excellence – Research University”).  

Support in preparation of applications 

  • In the applications assessed by the experts, the universities presented, inter alia, the analysis of their own potential, as well as development plans covering the objectives and actions primarily related to: 
  • increasing the influence of the university’s scientific research on the world science,
  • strengthening research-related collaboration with the science centres that enjoy wide recognition on the international arena,  
  • improving the quality of education offered to students and doctoral students,  
  • improving the human resources policy of the university,  
  • improving the quality of managing the university. 

The universities also had to specify the priority research areas in which they would carry out intensified scientific research. All universities entitled to take part in the first competition of the programme “Initiative for Excellence – Research University”, within the framework of the project “Excellence Strategy – Research University”, in 2018 received some additional funding (in the amount between PLN 700,000 and PLN 1 million) for the purpose of supporting the preparation of applications and carrying out appropriate research and analyses.  

Evaluation of applications – detailed criteria  

The applications presented by the universities were assessed in terms of: 

  • content-related aspects,  
  • the significance of the identified objectives for the purpose of increasing the international importance of the university’s activity,  
  • the adequacy of the described actions in relation to the identified objectives,
  • the potential of the university. 

The evaluation was expert in character. In the assessment of the criteria related to the objectives and potential, the evaluators took into account the indices measuring the quality of scientific research carried out by the universities.  

Evaluating implementation of plans and subsequent period of funding 

The universities presented a plan of actions for the near future. The implementation of the plan will be evaluated. The first mid-term evaluation will be carried out in 2023, and the final evaluation in 2026. After this time, the universities will have a possibility to extend the period of funding for the subsequent years (2027-2032). However, not all of them. 

At least two universities that will obtain a negative result or will be at the lowest positions of the ranking list after the evaluation will not receive further funding. Places released in this way will be available to other universities or federations that will win the next competition within the framework of the programme “Initiative for Excellence – Research University”. It will be held in 2026, and it will be aimed at the academic centres that did not receive funding within the framework of the first competition.