Science and higher education have always been an intensely internationalised area of human activity. Due to the possibility of widespread dissemination of scientific achievements, greater freedom of movement of persons and access to foreign education services, national science and higher education function not only in global competitive conditions in the area of scientific discoveries and talents, but, most of all, in the world of international cooperation. Internationalisation provides for exchange of knowledge, experience and discoveries, allows to use the research potential of scientists and infrastructure in a multi-dimensional way, and contributes to a better quality of didactics. Appreciating the importance of internationalisation, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education initiated the establishment of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA).

NAWA mission

Enhancing the potential of Polish science and higher education through international exchange and cooperation.In the context of the mission formulated in this way, NAWA forms a part of the system for supporting development of Polish universities and research units, in cooperation with the government administration (in particular with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Development), the National Science Centre, the National Centre for Research and Development, the Foundation for Polish Science, the National Contact Point for Research Programmes of the EU, the Foundation for the Development of the Education System and with other entities that aim to internationalise Polish science and higher education.

Aims of NAWA

1. Reinforcing the scientific excellence

2. Internationalising Polish universities and scientific institutions

3. Promoting Poland as a country offering interesting educational and research opportunities

4. Promoting the Polish language and culture

Aim 1 – Reinforcing the scientific excellence

1. International mobility programmes for research and teaching staff

In Poland, there are more and more scientists accomplishing international success, and some scientific centres are globally renowned in their respective fields. NAWA programmes will create new opportunities for Polish research and teaching staff to be involved in the international science circulation through external programmes with a duration up to 2 years. As the usage rate of modern research infrastructure in Poland is still limited and, at the same time, working contritions are unattractive for many foreign scientists, NAWA will also offer research stays in Poland for employees of foreign institutions.

2. Return programmes for Polish scientists

In the last decades, numerous talented scientists have left Poland in order to conduct research and develop their careers in foreign institutions. Many of them still keep in touch with Polish centres and initiate international cooperation with Polish researchers. The growing potential of many universities and scientific units in Poland creates adequate conditions to encourage Poles pursuing their scientific careers to return to their homeland. NAWA will support Polish institutions in creating an attractive offer for those who would like to conduct their further research again in Poland.

Aim 2 – Internationalising Polish universities and scientific institutions

1. Short-term mobility programmes

Internationalisation of Polish universities and scientific units requires broader possibilities of financing in-flow and out-flow mobility of academic staff. Within the framework of NAWA programmes, Polish institutions will be able to apply for funds for realisation of short-term international exchanges of doctoral candidates and employees, thanks to which they will improve their competences related to didactic or research activities and will be able to make international scientific contacts. Under such programmes, NAWA will support participation in conferences, internships, study visits or trainings.

2. Programmes supporting the internationalisation of education

In Poland, there is an increasing tendency in study programmes in foreign languages and universities have increasingly broader contacts with foreign institutions. In order to support the existing international activities of Polish centres, the offer of NAWA will include programmes that will allow study programmes to be created and implemented in partnership with foreign institutions and will make it possible to finance scholarships for foreign doctoral candidates.

3. Increasing the organisational potential and promotion

Extensive international cooperation and exchange pursued by universities and scientific units require adequate organisational preparations and promotion. NAWA will support Polish institutions in ensuring an appropriate level of services for foreign students and staff, as well as finance activities for creation of a quality-focused promotion system. Another important element of the Agency’s activities will consist in fostering international dissemination of study results, so as the works conducted in Poland will have a chance to contribute to the global scientific development.

Aim 3 – Promoting Poland as a country offering interesting educational and research opportunities

1. International mobility programmes for students

A significant part of Polish public and private universities offer high quality education and become recognisable in the international higher education market. At the same time, lower costs of living (in comparison with other EU countries) and a high security level make Poland a potentially attractive destination for students. This attractiveness should be enhanced through a scholarship scheme for the most talented young people that want to study in Poland. NAWA will offer scholarships for students from the Eastern Partnership member states and from chosen developing countries that want to pursue their studies in the second cycle in Poland and then return to their countries of origin in order to use there the acquired knowledge and to develop cooperation with Poland. In 2020, another scholarship programme will be launched, open for young people from all countries in the world. NAWA will also implement intergovernmental bilateral and multilateral agreements on scientific and academic cooperation, including the CEEPUS programme.

2. Scholarship programme for the youth from the Polish diaspora

Young people from the Polish diaspora can study at Polish universities free of charge. However, many of them can be prevented from pursuing studies abroad due to a significant obstacle, i.e. covering costs of living. Thanks to NAWA scholarship programmes, young people from the Polish diaspora will be able to obtain financial support during their studies and increase the potential of Polish human resources thanks to their good education.

3. Promoting science and higher education

NAWA will be responsible for coordinating promotion of science and higher education in the international community. Through participation in education fairs, cooperation with Polish diplomacy and consular services, as well as activity in social media, NAWA will present Poland as a safe country offering good-quality higher education and affordable costs of living. The particularly important markets include Asian countries.

Aim 4 – Promoting the Polish language and culture

1. Promotion of the Polish language

Due to the multimillion Polish diaspora, a large number of people that studied in Poland (in particular from the former Eastern bloc countries) and a functioning system of language teacher network, our language is present in the academic reality of particular countries. NAWA will promote teaching of Polish as a second language by means of programmes of language schools established in Poland, support for Polish language teachers working abroad, courses for those who wish to study in Polish, as well as certification support.

2. Promotion of the Polish history and culture

The scholarship offer of NAWA will also include programmes targeting students and researchers interested in the Polish history or culture. We will seek to deepen and disseminate knowledge about Poland among students of foreign universities by financing study visits of academia representatives.

 NAWA rules of operation

1. A transparent and competitive evaluation system for applications in programmes. NAWA will set the path for treatment of competition documentation and the rules of formal and substantive evaluation. The substantive evaluation is performed by independent experts, specialised in their respective fielded, in order to ensure the highest quality of projects implemented by NAWA beneficiaries. The results of the evaluation are notified to applicants along with the justification and published on the Agency’s website.

2. Openness to various entities. The system of science and higher education comprises several types of institutions. NAWA programmes can be accessed by both public and private universities, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well as research institutes. Moreover, the programme offer of NAWA was designed so as to take into account differences between entities in terms of their size, nature and market specificity.

3. Quality as the main criterion for the evaluation. When formulating the terms and conditions of programmes, we want to ensure that the formal requirements for applicants do not prevail over the quality criteria. Quality is defined differently depending on the particular programme – it may be identified as the potential and scientific achievements, but also as an innovative character of institutional solutions or a well-functioning international academic partnership.

4. Consultations concerning programmes. NAWA programmes are developed on the basis of wide consultations with representatives of organisation from the scientific community and academia, authorities of universities and research centres, as well as sister institutions active in the area of support for science and higher education. Consultations will be conducted on a regular basis during the development of the new programme offer.

5. Complementarity of actions. The profile of NAWA programmes was defined so as to complement the offer of other institutions operating in the area of support for science and higher education.

Management in NAWA

The Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange is a public legal person, established on the basis of an Act and supervised by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The Agency is managed by its Director, appointed by the Prime Minister upon the request of the minister in charge of higher education. The Director is responsible for managing the Agency in its strategic, financial and organisational dimension. NAWA comprises a collegial body of ten members, the Council of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange, composed of representatives of the sector and of public institutions. The Council proposes directions of development of the Agency and issues opinions on plans and reports concerning activities of the Agency.

NAWA is financed mainly from resources earmarked for science and higher education. Additionally, NAWA receives funds form the Polish development aid provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for financing scholarships for people from developing countries. NAWA can also be a beneficiary or an intermediary body participating in operational programmes financed from the EU funds, as well as apply for other funds from foreign sources.