Officially known as the republic of Poland, it is divided into 16 territories, and has a population of almost 39 million people. It is also the sixth most populated nation in the European Union. It is also considered to be an emerging economic power and is considered to be the eighth largest economy in Europe. Poland also has a rich cultural heritage and a high standard of living, life quality, safety, education and freedom.
Poland also provides free university education, social security supported by the state, and a universal healthcare system. The country is also home to a rich cultural heritage and has a number of historical monuments. There are 15 UNESCO world heritage sites in Poland and has cultural roots that date back over a thousand years.
Poland extends across several geographical features. In the north-west territory lies the majestic Baltic seacost, this coast has a number of coastal lakes and dunes. The central part of the country is made up of plains while the southern border is guarded by the Carpathian mountains. Poland is quite rich in mineral deposits like iron, zinc, copper and rock salt. The country has some amazing sights one can indulge in, including the Wieliczka salt mine which was constructed in the 13th century and contains an entire town built under the ground. Everything in this town is built from salt.
The country has almost ten thousand lakes or ponds with each covering more than one hectare. Poland is also one of the most densely forested countries in Europe. Over 30% of the land area of this country is covered in dense forests. This makes it a wonderful space for hikers and nature lovers. There are 23 national parks in the country which protect a large area of this verdant bounty. Poland is home to some of the rarest animals and birds in the world. Many species that have died out in Europe continue to thrive in Poland. The country is also the most important destination for the breeding of European migratory birds.
Poland has pursued a philosophy of economic liberalization since the 1990s. Poland was the only European Union country to avoid a recession during the 2008-09 economic downturn. The per capita GDP, however, is still quite low as compared to EU standards. Expansionary economic policies are on the horizon to better their GDP and overall economic status. Moreover, the Polish banking sector is one of the biggest in Europe. It also has a huge agriculture and animal husbandry industry. Mining and quarrying are also big sectors of industry in Poland.
The Polish education system is over 650 years old and has produced some of the most brilliant minds in history. In fact Polish scientists, artists and other public figures have together garnered 10 Nobel Prizes, and Marie Sklodowska-Curie is the only individual to have won it twice. Polish academic traditions can be traced back to the 14th century and have set some high standards of academic excellence. Polish, German, French and English are some of the most popular languages in Poland.
The second university to ever be established in Europe was the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and it was established in 1364. Modern day universities of Poland continue the grand academic traditions established by this university. The Warsaw University has been ranked as number one among the Top Coder international IT rankings.
Professionals graduating from Polish universities are appreciated by recruiters around the world. Be it engineers, architects, doctors and IT specialists, graduates from education institutions in Poland are considered to be some of the best by recruiters around the world. The State Accreditation Committee keeps tabs on the all Polish education institutions. It is thanks to this organisation and its vigilance that 80% of Polish universities have outstanding and good rankings.
It is important to note that despite the ongoing economic development in Poland the cost of living is considerably better than in other countries in Europe. The low cost of living combined with the low cost of education makes Poland one of the most value-for-money education destinations in the world today. The average rate of tuition fees for courses in Poland ranges between 2000 to 5000 euros which is many times lower than other European nations.
Poland is also one of the safest, if not the safest, countries in Europe. It attracts students from all across the world of various faiths and cultures and accommodates them all. The country is also home to a thriving literary and music scene. It boasts of having five Nobel laureate writers on its roster over and above a number of world renowned classical musicians and composers. Film makers are another breed that Poland seems to specialize in creating. This diversity in art appreciation makes sure that Poland has a number of festivals, book fairs, music concerts and art fairs happening around the year. It also has a strong sporting culture and football is one of the most followed sports in the country. All in all, Poland is not only a wonderful place to study it is also a great place to launch your career in continental Europe.
A large chunk of Poland’s education system is made up of private colleges and universities. There are over 300 privately own colleges and universities in Poland over and above almost 140 state schools of higher education. This increased competition among education institutes has resulted in Poland having one of the lowest costs for higher education in the world. All leading colleges and universities offer programmes in English for courses like medicine, engineering, humanities, finance and business. There are more than 100 institutions offering courses in English in Poland.
It is important to note that the country allows for the European Credit Transfer System which allows students to be geographically mobile and travel different countries without suffering a break in their education. There is no central admission process for studying in Poland and each institute manages their own intake process. Warsaw is one of the main education bastions of Poland and houses some of the biggest and most popular universities and institutions in the country.
The academic year of Poland is divided into two semesters of 15 weeks each, namely the winter and summer semester. The winter semester usually begins in October and ends in mid-February with a break for Christmas. The examination sessions for this semester are usually scheduled for two to three weeks in January. The summer semester starts in mid-February and ends in June and has a week-long break for Easter. There are three months of summer holidays for the students to enjoy and these last from the beginning of July to the end of September. The summer examination session lasts for about two to three weeks in June and the summer holidays are only for students who passed these examinations. Those that failed these exams need to retake them in September.
Poland’s medical colleges are renowned the world over. Students who have not been able to secure the necessary grades to break into medical programmes in their home countries often choose to go for medical programs in Poland. The medical program is about 7.5 years long which includes 6 years of university education and the rest is the pre-registration period as a house officer. Students have the option of serving the house officer period in your own home country. The medical programmes in Poland are oriented according to the common European programme. While these courses are taught in English, Polish may become a necessity by the time the course reaches its fag end.
The country also offers a number of vocational courses for students including courses for accountants, administrators, computer specialists, nurses and librarians among many others. A bachelor’s degree can be obtained after concluding a 3-3.5 year long course at a vocational or technical college. A bachelor’s of science degree, however will take about 3.5 to 4 years to complete. A master’s degree usually is awarded after 5-6 years of continuous studies which includes the bachelor’s and 2-2.5 years of master’s education.
The most important step towards beginning your application procedure for education in Poland is to find a course that is most suitable to you. The admission procedures may differ among universities and from course to course. For starters a student needs to apply online to the university and wait for their acceptance letter. There are a number of documents that are required for completing the application process. Your school certificates, bachelor degree certificates, language skills certificates, valid passport, as well as admission and tuition fees needs to be submitted as soon as the admission process is concluded. Once the admission process is completed is when the students need to apply for their visa.
Application for a Polish visa happens at the Polish consulate. When going there for your visa interview make sure that you take along a printed copy of your visa application and the confirmation page. Visa fees can be paid through a demand draft, but it would be advisable to check before you make out a DD. You also need to prove that you have enough funds to finance your education and living expenses in Poland. A medical certificate is also mandatory for students applying to Poland.
Full-time studies in Poland are free for Polish students and foreigners who are studying in Poland on terms applicable to Polish citizens, this usually includes EU and EEA students. Non-EU students have to pay fees which are considerably nominal when compared with other countries. Students need to pay 2000 euros per year for their first, second and long cycle studies. For doctoral, postgraduate and medical postgraduate internships as well as scientific, arts, specialist and post-doctoral internships cost 3000 euros per year. Vocational courses and apprenticeships cost about 3000 euros per year. Polish language courses, on the other hand, cost 2000 euros per year. The tuition fees differ from institution to institution and range from 2000 euros to 6000 euros per year. MBA programs usually cost 8000 euros to 12,000 euros per year.
The living cost in Poland are mildly higher than other European countries. One can survive in Poland between 300 to 650 euros per month. Larger cities such as Krakow or Warsaw can cost up to 600 euros per month. Smaller cities like Radom, Sochaczew or Stalowa Wola have a considerably lower cost of living, up to 350 euros per month will suffice. Pulkowice is the most expensive city in Poland and you can expect to shell out up to 650 euros every month to live there.
Housing is the biggest expense in Poland and can take up almost 40% of your monthly budget. There are, however, cheaper residential options for students, like residence halls or shared apartments. The housing facilities in Poland, however, are of high standards, especially when considers private rental properties. Students who live alone can expect to shell out about 370 euros every month. Those living with a partner or a child can expect to pay up to 450 euros per month. Although, students living on university campus only spend about 270 euros per month. On campus housing, however, is hard to come by.
One also must consider the basic costs of electricity, heating, water and garbage disposal which can come to around 150 euros a month. Private apartments also ask for a two month deposit. Food costs can range from 100 euros to 150 euros a month, buying groceries from low-priced supermarkets can make this endeavour far more cost-effective. Public transport can cost about 24 euros per month and is the preferred mode of transport for most students.
Poland is a part of the Schengen zone, which means that you can apply for a Polish visa and travel all over Europe. There are several types of visas an individual can choose. The A-type visa is an airport transit visa, which cannot be used by a student coming to study in Poland. The C-type visa is a short term Schengen visa which allows the holder to stay in the territory for up to 90 days. The D-type visa, or the national visa, allows you to travel around the Schengen area for 90 days in a 180 day period. The difference between the C-type and D-type visas is that in the C-type visa you have to leave Poland after a duration of 90 days, while in the D-type you are allowed to stay in Poland for a year from which you can travel for 90 days out of each 180 days. On the other hand, if you want to work in Poland you need to have a work permit before you apply for a visa. If you want to extend your stay in Poland you need to apply for a Temporary Stay Card and this needs to be done 45 days before your visa expires. Graduates who want to work in Poland need to obtain a Stay Card, which enables them to continue their stay and work.
Here are some mandatory documents you will require for your visa application if you are going to study in Poland:
- A meticulously filled visa application form
- Valid passport
- Official letter of acceptance to a school in Poland
- An updated CV
- All your school certificates and diplomas
- Language proficiency scores
- Proof of funds for studying and surviving in Poland
- Health insurance
- Latest photographs
Until 2015 students were only allowed to work in the months of July, August and September, that is, the holiday months. Students are now allowed to work through the year. Not only that, academics who are living in Poland are allowed to give guest lectures for 30 days out of a year. This work experience that students gain while studying will give them the edge to gain precious practical experience much sought after by employers. It is important to know that non-EU students pursuing full-time studies in Poland do not need a work permit.
It is advisable for students to start working in about three months of landing in Poland. This gives you time to get acclimatized with the country and the culture. After graduation there are a number of ways that you can land jobs in Poland, online sources are considered some of the best resources for the same. Make sure that you have an updated CV to send out to prospective recruiters around the country. Polish your LinkedIn profile and keep it regularly updated. It would be a good idea to have your CV translated in Polish for applying on Polish job websites. Every university also has career offices which help students get placed and help them with job applications.
The country has a number of industries which are on the upswing. The IT industry is considered to be one of the best growing industries in the country. The agriculture industry is also growing at a rapid click and is at the top in cultivation of various fruits, potatoes and is leading in the production of cereals. The automotive sector is also on the growth path and will grow by another 6% over the next year. Business services, mining, power, aerospace and infrastructure are also a few industries that are on the growth path in Poland.
Is speaking Polish required to study in Poland?
No. All elective courses are taught in English, although, learning Polish can be a great way for you to immerse in the culture.
Do I need health insurance?
All non-EU/EEA students are required to buy insurance in their home countries or immediately on arriving in Poland. If they do not get this then they are required to pay for any health service they may avail of. Foreign students are also advised to purchase third part liability insurance and accident insurance.
Do students get any discounts in Poland?
Student IDs give a student an opportunity to get discounts on public transport, movie tickets, stores, restaurants and many other places. Students get a 51% discount on traveling with the PKP (railway), and public transport in all cities. Pubs, beauty shops, gyms etc. are just some places where you can get a discount after showing your student ID card.
How is the weather there?
Polish weather is changeable as it is affected by continental weather from the east and maritime weather from the west. One can see significant changes in the weather from day to day. Spring starts in March and is cold and windy in the beginning but becomes pleasant and warm later. Summer, which usually begins around June, is warm usually but can also get hot with a lot of sunshine interspersed with occasional rains. July and August are the hottest months. Autumn starts in September and is usually sunny in the beginning and becomes cold, foggy and damp by November. Winter lasts from December to March and has short or long patches of snow, temperatures during this time can drop as low as -15 degrees.