|Abstract: The paper presents the development strategy of the Silesian Technical University with respect to teaching and research process modernization, university management and the role of the university in the highly industrialized and polluted Upper Silesia region. The role of TEMPUS programme in the realization of stated tasks was evaluated and the potential impact of the TEMPUS programme on future development of the Silesian Technical University was discussed.|
Silesian Technical University was established
in 1945 in the centre of highly industrialized Upper Silesia region
of Poland in order to meet its high demands for engineers and
technology. Nowadays the university is one of the greatest technical
universities in Poland. It consists of 11 departments: Architecture,
Automatic Control, Electronics and Computer Science, Civil Engineering,
Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Mining and Geology, Power and
Environmental Engineering, Mathematics and Physics, Mechanical
Engineering, Materials Science, Metallurgy and Transport, Production
Engineering and Management Science.
The first 9 departments are located in Gliwice, the last 2 are
situated in Katowice. The University also includes a subsidiary
Engineering Education Centre in Rybnik, offering those full-time,
part-time and extramural BSc courses which are taught at the Faculty
of Civil Engineering and the faculty of Mining and Geology. 8
departments have full academic rights to qualify assistant professors
and 2 to confer doctor's degrees. The university also contains
extradepartmental and interdepartmental units like Foreign Languages
Teaching Centre, Research Centre for Teaching Techniques, Computer
Centre, Central Library and Publishers of the Silesian Technical
Nowadays about 18800 students (14400 day-time) study at the Silesian
Technical University of Gliwice. The University employs about
1800 academic teachers including 85 Professors.
The Silesian Technical University carries out fundamental and
applied research in several subjects being the leading institution.
Simultaneously, the university prepares well educated engineers
for Polish industry as well as for the needs of the Upper Silesia
region. Some courses are unique in the Polish educational system.
The university has established close links with industry all over
the country thus contributing to the improvement of industrial
The Silesian Technical University fulfills 3 basic tasks: education,
development of academic staff, research projects charged by industry.
Scientific and research activity is an important part of University's
work. It is financed by state budget and industry. In the past
the majority of research work was supported by industry but now
it has very little share. Thanks to the location in the industrial
region of Upper Silesia the university is closely involved with
industry which can be regarded as its main strength. Therefore,
in many cases research work aimed at the development and application
of modern technology is promoted by contracts between the university
and industry. In addition many members of the university staff
are engaged in industrial consultancy work.
The academic staff of Silesian Technical University is its best
point. The university staff and laboratories are prepared to satisfy
the research needs of the theoretical and applied research projects.
Although some laboratories need modernization, other have up-to-date
equipment, despite the limited funds for this purpose. Experimental
research carried out in these laboratories has resulted in numerous
papers published in Polish and international periodicals. Many
results of applied research have been implemented and patented
in Poland and abroad. The Silesian Technical University is prepared
- with respect to both human resources and modern technical facilities
- to meet the demand for research in the highly industrialized
Upper Silesia region. Members of the university obtain numerous
grants in competitions of the Committee of Scientific Research
and from abroad. The important activity of the Silesian Technical
University is persistent aim after degrees obtained by its young
There exists wide scientific and educational cooperation with
academic and industry-oriented institutions abroad and the Silesian
Technical University. An important task is to make the results
of the research work available to other scientists and engineers.
To achieve this, conferences, symposia and seminars are organized
by all university departments. Annually there are 60-70 such events
which attract the attention of both research workers and experts
from industry. Newly established Division of Technology Transfer
serves to promote the results of research work.
The Silesian Technical University of Gliwice nowadays has to cope
with problems mainly in the following two areas: 1) economic -
the funding coming from the state concerning the students' education
is very low therefore it is difficult to modernize the laboratory
equipment, intensify international cooperation and mobility, etc.,
2) legal - the legal framework of Polish higher education seems
to block several important changes in the structure of the university,
management rules and education process, also due to the excessive
role of trade unions in the university life.
The university leadership recognizes the following core issues
with respect to the university participation in the international
scientific/educational cooperation: 1) the university academic
staff is not sufficiently well prepared for starting and maintaining
international cooperation, especially with respect to European
languages skills, 2) the university's efficiency with respect
to acquiring funds from European cooperation programmes is much
below the university expectation; 3) there exists a "capital
syndrome" in Poland - e.g. TEMPUS JEPs originating from Warsaw
and 2 or 3 other largest cities seem to be much more probable
to receive warm welcome from experts during the projects evaluation;
such situation causes much discouragement and frustration among
applicants from smaller universities - even as large as Silesian
Two main changes occurred during last years with respect to changes
in the university structure and management. First, two new departments
were created: 1) Power and Environmental Engineering; 2) Industrial
Engineering and Management Science. Second, the devolution of
financial management has been performed in the university, mainly
thanks to the possibilities of international cooperation.
The main objectives of reforms being performed in the Silesian
Technical University are the following: 1) changing the university
education system from one stage 5 years long MSc studying scheme
into the versatile system of types and levels of education starting
from the basic undergraduate to various levels of postgraduate
studies; 2) system of credits should be introduced at the university
on the basis of western European standards; the credits transfer
system should be worked out and implemented thus enhancing the
students mobility possibilities; 3) university education should
be related more closely to the needs and specific characteristics
of the Upper Silesia region in which the Silesian Technical University
is placed; the Upper Silesia region is totally damaged with respect
to ecology, also the average education level is the lowest in
the country, therefore there exists an urgent need for enlarging
the higher education offer of the university especially in the
fields of high technology and environment protection sciences.
A short-term institutional goal of the Silesian Technical University
is the improvement of dramatic financial situation of the university
with respect to acquiring the external funding and improving the
financial management within the institution. A long-term goal
seems to be adjusting the education offer of the Silesian Technical
University to the needs of the Upper Silesia region and the region
specific labour market, diversifying the types and levels of courses,
internationalization of the university curricula, implementing
the credits transfer system in the university.
All faculties/institutes of the university should become much
more active with respect to international cooperation which should
result in better possibilities of getting external funding, modernization
of the university higher education offer and improving the qualifications
of the university teachers. The university plans include also
the improvement of qualification and skills of the supporting
staff - actually the university administration and department
of international cooperation staff participates in two TEMPUS
The TEMPUS policy of the university concentrates mainly on motivation
and assistance in preparing the applications of the TEMPUS grants.
This has been accomplished upon appointing TEMPUS coordinators
at each department. Their role is to disseminate information to
the teaching staff at each department, preparing themes of future
TEMPUS grants and coordinate their content.
TEMPUS policy of most faculties is to back and to be involved
in projects which enable to build a bridge over the gap between
European and our curricula and systems of study. More precisely
our strategy is to develop a system of undergraduate studies in
various files of higher education compatible with European standards,
and create a flexible link between such studies and postgraduate
studies leading to MSc or PhD degrees. This strategy has been
formulated in late eighties but it receives a real impulse coming
from our university involvement in the TEMPUS programme. The Department
for International Cooperation helps all TEMPUS scholars, students
and visitors with tickets, plane/train/coach reservations, lodgings,
hotel reservations and loans (if by chance mobility funds are
retarded). Some lack of interest at the university and departmental
level may be explained by the fact that most TEMPUS-JEPs granted
were very much an inter-university initiative. At the roots of
them there are usually clearly defined strategies, worked out
by an inter-university group of people from various universities.
Such group (referred to as organizing group) usually worked splendidly
together, first by formulating the JEP-s objectives, by writing
a proposal and by monitoring the progress through regular meetings
of some steering body. It should be added that on each stage of
such work (formulating the objectives, writing the proposal, monitoring
the progress) we were usually very effectively supported by our
partners from European Union Universities.
The themes of TEMPUS Joint European Projects are defined at the
level of a given Institute/Department wishing or being asked to
apply for TEMPUS grant. The most important guidelines come from
the Polish TEMPUS Office who defines the priorities for a given
year. Universities can influence the choice of the priorities
by submitting topics to the Polish TEMPUS Office. At the university
level, the topics are selected by collecting the suggestions coming
from the TEMPUS coordinators. The themes of JEPs were defined
and proposed based on following criteria: TEMPUS priorities; policy
of developing modern courses to meet the expectations of regional
and local bodies. There is no relation between the projects at
department, faculty and university level. Some JEP themes (e.g.
the ones involving the information technology and industrial controllers
oriented group of people) were worked out at meetings of the inter-university
group and were accepted by the Institute of Automation of our
university, mainly because they aimed at filling a wide gap in
our curricula. There is a strong inter-relation between topics
developed by members of the inter-university group participating
in both JEP's. However, there does not seem to be much inter-relation
between projects at department and university level, besides exchanging
experience connected with running the JEP's and having a common
denominator which is the need to bring our curricula up to date.
The University Department for International Cooperation plays
an important role in coordination and managing of the TEMPUS projects.
The staff of this office is responsible for the preparation of
the mobility, organization of Intensive Courses and administration
of the project. Another important point is the coordination of
the financial management of the grants (transfer of foreign currency,
commission of equipment, handling custom duties and VAT). These
activities are carried out under the supervision of the Accounting
service of the University. As such activities have not been carried
out before the TEMPUS projects started, new methodologies and
approaches had to be established to accomplish these tasks. Practically
all these procedures will be used after the end of TEMPUS projects.
Most JEPs were coordinated by an inter-university Steering Committee
which met at regular intervals to set targets and evaluate progress.
To locally manage the JEPs was not a task for which new institutional
regulation were needed, because everything that ought to be done
fitted nicely into established and well-known regulations. In
general there seems to be no need of special coordination and
management of the JEP's and other TEMPUS project at the faculty
The TEMPUS-JEP results were usually disseminated by means of summer
schools and workshops, by starting new courses and publishing
new textbooks. A number of students and academic staff have been
participating in all summer schools and workshops organized within
the TEMPUS framework at the university.
With respect to most projects the assessment was mainly done on
institutional level by presenting copies of reports written to
Polish and European TEMPUS authorities, presenting summaries of
targets and informing on progress. The assessment resulted in
channeling additional funds into further developing and maintaining
laboratory and computer facilities, originally purchase with TEMPUS
funding. The list of people taking part in mobility flows was
usually formed at the institutional level. In some cases the worked
out programs of new courses were assessed by STU staff and representative
of foreign partner institutions on special seminar. All the seminars
at which TEMPUS activities have been presented were found to be
very useful and successful events. JEP's coordinators usually
prepare internal reports on the projects which they are involved
in which are disseminated among the interested academic staff.
The results of the some JEPs were reported by the local coordinators
at the specially organized seminars with staff and students participants.
The main contribution of TEMPUS to the development of new management
practices was to provide the opportunity to see how to run things
in a way decidedly different, more transparent and more efficient
than the way we were accustomed to. Another contribution was to
provide the chance for a relative large number of people on TEMPUS
mobility to come across academic establishments in EU, organized
and run on a different basis. Technically, the contribution consisted
in popularizing management software tools like spreadsheets and
data bases for day-to-day running of the group. TEMPUS contributed
decidedly as far as the introduction of new software tools into
the teaching process was concerned. This opened a new and exciting
dimension for many students and staff to learn new skills and
get new expertise in field like computer simulation of processes,
computer aided control system design and computer networks.
TEMPUS contributed also by substantially raising the average level
of English language skills, by giving many the chance to get acquainted
with English as used on a day-to-day basis and as a vehicle for
lectures and seminars. Last but not least, it contributed by providing
some of us with the unique opportunity to get acquainted with
the English administrative dialect as embodied in all those piles
of TEMPUS instructions and information and as needed to write
proposals and reports.
The main factor supporting the changes resulting from TEMPUS involvement
are the coordinating activities of the Rector's and Department
of International Cooperation and the University TEMPUS coordinator.
The positive impact of the TEMPUS coordinators at Department level
should also be mentioned here. The other factor supporting changes
is without doubt the growing number of academic staff and university
managers at all levels, which fully realize the need for changes,
which do not feel threatened by them, which consider them as a
challenge that will enrich their professional lives.
The factors blocking changes are: (1) an outdated legal framework,
which impedes further development of academic education, (2) The
still large number of academic staff and university managers which
feel threatened by changes, which stick to old courses, old schemes
and old notions, (3) the bureaucracy at the faculty level which
diminishes the efficiency of TEMPUS JEP planning and management
by the local coordinator. Not good enough English command (both
students and teachers!) should also be mentioned here.
TEMPUS policy, which insisted on JEPs proposed by teams of staff
members from different Polish academic institutions had a powerful
impact on making us aware of each other, of what we are doing
and how, contributed doubtless to closer collaboration between
those teams and contributed to the revitalization of various academic
meetings countrywide. On the other hand, the impact of the TEMPUS
programme onto the reform process in the country is mainly controlled
by setting the priorities by the National TEMPUS Office. Universities
can influence, to some extent, these priorities.
For many projects the criteria concerning their application were:
(1) practical relevance of the educational tools to be developed
(courses, laboratory exercises, software), (2) the need to modernize
existing laboratory facilities by a massive introduction of modern
computing power. Usually there was a link with students demand
and interest as well as with the acute shortage of computing facilities
and relevant software. In some cases the reason for choosing the
project topic was the amalgamation of several teaching groups.
As a result teaching staff should be retrained, new curricula
developed, new laboratory equipment purchased and installed.
The expected impact was to influence necessary curricula changes
and bring the students in touch with modern computing facilities.
Most TEMPUS JEPs fitted perfectly into strategic educational targets
of the department, institute and unit. Development of new curricula
and staff retraining is a long and expensive process. It was expected
that the know how of the cooperating institutions and the financial
means available through the TEMPUS project would make the process
quicker and much more efficient. Active scientific research into
the selected area and integration of the groups beyond work could
also be expected.
The key person in most Joint European Projects was obviously the
coordinator and contractor. However, all strategic decisions were
usually consulted with the members of the some kind of consortium.
The final decision has to be accepted by every member of the consortium.
In the case of projects concerning new curricula, close cooperation
with the Dean and Faculty Council is required. The content of
the new curricula and the mobility of the teaching staff were
accepted by the Faculty Council. Some members of the council were
involved in the development of new curricula. The coordination
with other TEMPUS projects granted to the University is restricted
to the coordination of equipment purchase, organization of intensive
The TEMPUS Joint European Projects results were most often disseminated
by means of TEMPUS Summer School, lasting typically a fortnight,
attended on the average by 35 participants (the number was limited
by available laboratory equipment), on which results were presented
via lectures and laboratory exercises for a group of junior staff
and students form EE and EU partner, universities. The results
were often disseminated by embodying a substantial part of them
into existing curricula and making them available for those working
on diploma projects. Part of the results achieved were published
The internal assessment of the projects results and impact was
mainly done on institutional level by presenting copies of reports
written to Polish and European TEMPUS authorities, presenting
summaries of targets and informing on progress. Participation
at the Summer Schools was available to any member of the departmental
community wishing to attend. The assessment at the institution
level was generally favorable and resulted in channeling additional
funds into further developing and maintaining laboratory and computer
facilities, originally purchased with TEMPUS funding. The list
of people taking part in mobility flows was usually formed at
the institutional level.
The impact of several projects on the university departments and
institutes was effective to a substantial extent, because it created
a hardware/software basis for new courses, attended by students
from all institutions of the department. The broader impact was
rather that of an example to be followed by others. The projects
contributed towards updating some basic courses in several subjects
by providing a new perspective, some inspiration and a lot of
new ideas and techniques. Some projects played a decisive role
in starting preparation for a modern B.Eng. course in control.
The main new ideas were field-tested during the TEMPUS Summer
Schools. Many projects contributed substantially towards introducing
and establishing modern management techniques based on computer
networks and spreadsheet/database software.
Some TEMPUS projects contributed to the development of the strategy
of the university institutes in establishing firm links with cooperating
EC institutions. The main impact of the TEMPUS projects on the
strategy of the university institutes seems to be in developing
international cooperation and institutional tools of handling
problems associated with this cooperation.
The university needs at the beginning of TEMPUS involvement were
to establish new and strengthen the existing links with western
partners, retraining and improving the command of foreign languages
of the teaching staff, creating networks of students exchange.
All these needs are still the same. Some difficulties encountered
are connected with students mobility; students are reluctant to
study abroad. The problem is mainly caused by poor command of
foreign language and some conservative mentality. There are also
communication problems when contacting with some members of the
co-operating groups. Typical needs when starting Joint European
Projects were like follows: 1) purchase of equipment; 2) advise
and help of the partner universities in development of modern
course; advise and help of the partner universities in staff retraining
and updating; develop student mobility. These needs are still
Obvious positive aspects of the Silesian Technical University
participation in TEMPUS were new laboratory equipment, new computer
equipment, new software, new ideas, new courses, new contacts,
new friends. The most important positive aspect of the participation
in TEMPUS programme is a reform of the university curricula and
the increase of motivation among young members of academic staff
in their participation in development of new laboratories and
On the other hand the coordination of TEMPUS projects should be
stronger. This might be achieved by frequent meetings of the coordinators.
The activities to be coordinated are introduction of new systems
of education, post graduated courses (often interdisciplinary,
thus requiring interdepartmental cooperation) and purchase of
equipment. A system of credits should be introduced at the university.
This would require an introduction of some institutional measures
both to inform the students about the possibilities and monitor
the results of the examinations. Both could emerge from the existing
Deans Offices coordinated by central administration of the university.
The Silesian Technical University has been undergoing various stages of scientific, educational and organizational development. Since 1989 the university has been an independent body, thanks to which its continual development is mostly stimulated by the academic staff. The transformation and development of the University is focused on the following objectives:
The restructuring and development of the Polish higher education
is a vital necessity and one of the objectives of the Polish government,
following radical changes in the political and economical system
of the country. Higher education system in the Silesian Technical
University is still aimed at almost only long (5 years) higher
education and all students are obliged to obtain the university
Master degree. Thus, only limited number of young people can be
educated. Therefore, there are urgent needs at the Silesian Technical
University to develop and implement a new structure of the education.
The fundamental goal will be the diversification of types and
levels of the education: starting from a basic undergraduate to
various levels of postgraduate studies. This should better adapt
the graduates to the requirements of the market and enable to
increase the student enrolment rate. The internationalization
of the curricula is another vital need, along with the introduction
of more practical, professional equipment and application oriented
courses. Actual graduates from Polish technical universities have,
for obvious reasons, no in depth grasp of the new technologies
and need to be retrained on the site by the equipment suppliers.
Many of the smaller Polish companies can hardly afford this and
just expect to get graduates which have already been exposed to
these technologies. There are specific plans to start such two-stage
higher education system with the curricula internationalization
in the fields of Information Technologies, Computer Science and
Robotics and Automation, also as a result of the TEMPUS involvement
of the university.
One of the side-effects of the heavy industry concentration in
the Upper Silesia is a degradation of the natural environment
in the region. Therefore the development plans of the region promote
the growth of industrial branches of high technology, like electronics
and computer engineering. These priorities played an important
role in the development of TEMPUS JEPs topics and scope.
Recently, postgraduate courses organized by the Silesian Technical
University have become very popular, especially in the following
fields: computer networks, industrial controllers, microprocessor
systems, management, restructuring of industry and industrial
regions, auditing of power engineering, electric power engineering
in the period of economic transformation, computer-aided design
and manufacture, waste management, protection of historical monuments,
town development and environmental engineering. The courses attracted
wide interest from the industrial enterprises of the Upper Silesia
region from which most of the courses participants are recruited.
It is planned to enrich the offer of the Silesian Technical University
with respect to the number of postgradute courses being provided,
especially in the field of electronics, computer networking and
computer aided design and control. TEMPUS programme has an important
impact on such plans and courses realisation.
All TEMPUS related activities taken up in last years are to modernize teaching and research processes and improve management what should ensure high level of education and results of research useful for industry and further development of Silesian Technical University.
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