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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Adult education and training funding

Poland

3.Funding in education

3.3Adult education and training funding

Last update: 19 January 2024

Main funding principles

There is no overall or single model of adult education funding in Poland.

The main sources of funding for adult education in Poland:

Type of training

Funding sources

School settings

School education part of the general State-budget subsidy

Non-school settings

School education part of the general State-budget subsidy

Labour Fund, incl. National Training Fund

National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People

EU funds and other international assistance programme funds

Central government budgets for the training of specific occupational groups (e.g. government officials, medical doctors, teachers, etc.)

Private funds (incl. employers’ funds)

Source: Author’s elaboration

Funding for public schools for adults and adult education institutions is a section of the school education funding system.

Pursuant to the Law on School Education (ustawa – Prawo oświatowe), continuing education is provided in public and non-public schools for adults, stage II sectoral vocational schools and post-secondary schools; non-school settings, including  public and non-public continuing education institutions and vocational  training centres, where adults can acquire and broaden their knowledge and skills and obtain and upgrade vocational qualifications; and in public and non-public schools providing vocational education. 

Administering primary schools for adults is a statutory task of communes (gmina) (the lowest-level local government unit). Administering post-primary schools for adults, continuing education institutions and vocational training centres is a statutory task of districts (powiat) (the level of local government above the commune).

Funding for education-related tasks of local government units (LGUs) comes from the school education part of the general subsidy, specified in the Budgetary Act (ustawa budżetowa) for a given year. The subsidy is distributed among LGUs according to an algorithm established in a Regulation by the Minister responsible for school education. LGUs are not required to use such funds only for educational purposes, and they can allocate funds from other sources for education. They distribute the funds received among individual schools, including schools for adults.

In accordance with the Act on the Financing of School Education Tasks (ustawa o finansowaniu zadań oświatowych), education in non-public schools and institutions is co-funded by grants from budgets of the competent LGUs. The rules for awarding grants are discussed in the section on school education above.

EU funds have recently gained in importance as a source of funding for adult education in non-school settings. Funds for the development of human capital were allocated to Poland still before its accession to the EU within the framework of the pre-accession PHARE Programme, the Programme for Activating Rural Areas, and the Programme of Reorientation and Retraining co-financed by the World Bank. As part of the 2004-2006 financial framework, funds for this purpose came from the following programmes: Human Resources Development, EQUAL and Integrated Regional Development Operational Programme. The main programmes implemented as part of the 2007-2013 financial framework were the Human Capital Operational Programme (Priority I, II and partly III, V, VIII and IX) and regional operational programmes. The 2014-2020 financial framework included the Knowledge-Education-Development Operational Programme (POWER) Programme and regional operational programmes. POWER Programme has been continued in the framework of FERS - European Funds for Social Development 2021-2027.

Adult education for some occupational groups (for example, government officials, medical doctors, teachers) is also funded from budgets of the relevant central government bodies.

Furthermore, labour offices have a major role in adult education. Pursuant to the Act on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions (ustawa o promocji zatrudnienia i instytucjach rynku pracy), training courses organised by labour offices are among the main labour market services.

Heads of districts (starosta) may delegate the task of training provision to training institutions which they administer or select such training institutions, based on the principles of competitiveness, equal treatment and transparency, and conclude contracts with them. A training institution may be contracted to provide publicly funded training courses if it is included in the Register of Training Institutions kept by the regional labour office in the province where the institution is established.

For training courses to be organised, heads of districts should, for example, assess labour demand (occupations, specialisms and qualifications) and training needs of people who are eligible to benefit from training. They should also assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the training provided.

Courses for people who undertake training based on a decision of the head of a district are publicly funded, in particular, by the Labour Fund, and the European Social Fund or EU programmes. Funding covers the costs of courses incurred by training institutions but may also be used to cover the following types of costs:

  • costs of travel, and costs of accommodation and meals if the course is delivered away from the participant’s place of residence;

  • costs of medical examination and psychological assessment required by separate regulations;

  • accident insurance costs;

  • costs of exams leading to certificates, diplomas, specific vocational qualifications or occupational / job titles, and costs of licences necessary to practise a given occupation. 

Heads of districts also provide financial-aid grants to people sent to training; see below.

Heads of districts use funding from the Labour Fund to cover the costs of training for unemployed people who undertake training based on a decision of a labour office. At the request of the unemployed, the head of a district may also cover partly the costs of a training course which unemployed people take on their own initiative if they demonstrate the usefulness of the course and if the part of the costs covered by the Labour Fund in a given year does not exceed 300% of the average wage.  

Furthermore, heads of districts may provide training vouchers to unemployed people aged under 30. Such a voucher guarantees that the unemployed person will take a training course which he / she has chosen, and the related training costs will be covered. 

At the request of an unemployed person, the head of a district may also:

  • grant a Labour Fund loan to cover the costs of training. It is an interest-free loan which should be repaid within a maximum period of 18 months, and its amount may not exceed 400% of the average wage;

  • cover the costs of taking a non-degree postgraduate programme up to the amount that does not exceed 300% of the average wage. Funds are transferred directly to the bank account of the programme provider. The head of a district also provides accident insurance for the learner taking a programme if he / she does not have such insurance.

Support for taking training courses and non-degree postgraduate programmes is available to people who are registered in a labour office as the unemployed and, in some cases, as job seekers (e.g. employees aged 45 and above).

Labour offices also organise practical placements / internships and vocational training for adults. Trainees receive a scholarship / financial-aid grant discussed in the next section of this chapter.

Furthermore, heads of districts reimburse, from the Labour Fund, the costs incurred by employers to organise vocational training, based on an agreement and a training programme. This includes, in particular, costs of materials, raw materials, use of machines and equipment, and workwear. Costs are reimbursed up to 2% of the average wage for each full month of the training programme delivered.

Employers also receive a one-off bonus of PLN 400 (EUR 86.9) per trainee for each full month of the training programme delivered if the trainee sent by the head of a district has completed the programme and passed a related exam (a vocational, journeyman/apprentice or skills-assessment exam).

As in the case of training courses, the head of a district may also cover the costs of medical examination and psychological assessment, exams and travel and accommodation for vocational training participants.

Moreover, the head of a district may provide a practical placement / internship voucher to the unemployed aged up to 30. Such a voucher guarantees that the unemployed person will do a 6-month practical placement / internship at the employer’s organisation that he / she has chosen if the employer undertakes to employ the unemployed person for 6 months after the completion of the placement / internship. 

The 2014 amendments to the Act on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions established a National Training Fund (NTF) (Krajowy Fundusz Szkoleniowy). It is a separate pool which includes 2% of the revenues of the Labour Fund. The NTF aims to support both employers and employees. At the request of the employer, under an agreement, the head of a district may grant NTF funds to cover the costs of continuing education and training of employees and the employer. Co-funding levels are given in the table below.

 

Micro-enterprises

Other enterprises

Level of co-funding (% of training costs)

100%

80%

Maximum level of co-funding (% of the average wage in a given year per trainee)

300%

300%

Additional funding options, offered by the National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People (Państwowy Fundusz Rehabilitacji Niepełnosprawnych, PFRON), are available to support people with disabilities in upgrading their skills and qualifications.

People with disabilities who are registered in a district labour office as the unemployed or unemployed job seekers may benefit from labour market services and instruments in accordance with the rules laid down in the Act on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions. Disabled people registered as unemployed job seekers can, in particular, take a training course, practical placement / internship, vocational training course for adults or non-degree postgraduate programme or receive a training or practical placement / internship voucher; the arrangements are the same as for the unemployed. Funding for such support measures comes from the Labour Fund (for those registered as unemployed) and the National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People (for those registered as unemployed job seekers).

Moreover, pursuant to the Act on Vocational and Social Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled People (ustawa o rehabilitacji zawidowej i społecznej oraz zatrudnianiu osób niepełnosprawnych), a labour office arranges for registered people with disabilities to take training courses which are financed by the Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People. The costs covered include, in particular, accident insurance; accommodation and subsistence (covered fully or partly); travel to the training venue, including the cost of travel for the personal assistant or carer of a person with a severe disability; services of a sign-language interpreter or reader for blind people, or an accompanying person for a person with a severe motor disability; and necessary medical examination, psychological assessment, diagnostic tests and rehabilitation services. The maximum duration of training is 36 months. A person with a disability takes a training course on the initiative of a labour office or at the request of the disabled person if he / she demonstrates that the training is likely to lead to employment and the cost of the training does not exceed an amount which is ten times the average wage.

Training for people with disabilities may be provided, in particular, in specialised training-and-rehabilitation centres which are established and abolished by the province marshal (marszalek województwa) (a local government body at the regional level) in agreement with the Government Representative for Disabled People. Specialised centres offer training courses to people who, due to a disability, have no or limited access to training in other institutions. As part of their tasks, such centres also assess psychological and physical fitness for various occupations; assess abilities and potential for developing abilities; and provide accommodation and meals, training support, medical care and rehabilitation services to training participants. Costs of the establishment, operation and services of a specialised centre should be covered by the National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People.

Voluntary Labour Corps (VLC) (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy, OHP) have a major role in supporting young people, in particular those at risk of social maladjustment, and unemployed people aged up to 25. The VLC performs tasks of the State related to the employment and prevention of marginalisation and exclusion of young people, and tasks in the area of education and training.

In the area of education and training, the VLC’s activities aim to enable young people who have not finished primary school or do not continue education upon finishing primary school to acquire vocational qualifications and complete primary education or complete a general and vocational education programme at post-primary level. Thus, the VLC refer young people to school education institutions and, in some cases, schools for adults. The VLC may also provide training to people over the age of 18 in vocational training centres.

Furthermore, pursuant to the Law on School Education, training grants are available to employers who have concluded an employment contract with juvenile workers to provide them with vocational training / training for a given job. A grant is awarded if the juvenile worker has completed such training and has passed an exam.

The amount of the training grant per juvenile worker is:

  • for vocational training: up to PLN 8,081 (EUR 1,756.7) where the duration of training is 36 months, with a proportional reduction for a shorter period;

  • for training to do a specific type of work / job: up to PLN 254 (EUR 55.2) for each full month of training.

Grants are provided by the head of a commune or mayor of a town / city (wójt or burmistrz or prezydent miasta) which is the place of residence of a juvenile worker. Funding for the training of juvenile workers comes from the Labour Fund.

There are no regular surveys on private expenditure on education, in particular continuing education, in Poland.

Related legislation: 

Fees paid by learners

In accordance with the Law on School Education (ustawa – Prawo oświatowe), education in public schools for adults is fee-free.

However, the learner self-government in schools for adults, stage II sectoral vocational schools, post-secondary art schools and continuing education institutions may collect voluntary contributions and raise funds from other sources to support statutory activities of the school or institution. The rules for using such funds are laid down in the learner self-government regulations, adopted by all learners. Thus, in practice, school activities (except for staff salaries) may be co-financed by the learner self-government funds.

Tuition fees are usually charged for education in non-public schools and in non-school settings.

Schools, centres and other institutions may charge fees for continuing education provided in some non-school settings (vocational skills courses, general competence courses and other courses ) where learners can acquire new and supplementary knowledge, skills and vocational qualifications.

The head of a school, centre or institution determines the level of fees in consultation with its administering body. Fees may not exceed the actual costs of training in a given setting.

Low-income learners may be fully or partially exempted by the head from paying fees. The head may also refund fees to learners in situations where due to an unforeseen event or health problems, they are unable to undertake training in a given non-school setting.

Labour offices run human resources development programmes where participants pay no fees for training. 

Some training courses supported by the EU funds are also tuition-free.

Tuition fees are charged to learners enrolled on non-degree postgraduate programmes. The provider of a given programme sets the level of fees.

Related legislation:

Financial support for adult learners

Due to the fragmentation of the adult education system, there is no unified system of financial support for adult learners.

Pursuant to the School Education Act (ustawa o systemie oświaty), within the school education system, learners in public and non-public schools for adults are entitled to maintenance-type financial support (school grants and school allowances) and incentive-type financial support (grants and scholarships for learning and sporting achievements, the Prime Minister's scholarships, scholarships awarded by the ministers responsible for school education and for culture and national heritage). They may receive such benefits until the completion of education, but only until they reach the age of 24.

Financial support benefits are granted as a statutory task of local government units (LGUs) and are funded from their budgets. However, pursuant to the Act on the Financing of School Education Tasks (ustawa o finansowaniu zadań oświatowych), maintenance-type benefits are co-funded by a targeted (specific-purpose) State-budget grant.

In accordance with the Act on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions (ustawa o promocji zatrudnienia i instytucjach rynku pracy), aside from support to cover fees for training or a higher education programme and related costs, unemployed people may receive a scholarship-type grant from the Labour Fund for the duration of:

  • a training course;

  • an adult vocational training course;

  • a non-degree postgraduate programme;

  • a practical placement / internship;

  • education in a post-primary school;

  • a part-time degree programme in a higher education institution.

The amount of the grant per month depends on the type of training and is equal to 20%, 100% or 120% of the basic unemployment benefit paid during the first 90 days of the entitlement to the benefit. Currently, the amount of the benefit is PLN 1,491.90 (EUR 324.3). Thus, the amounts of grants range from PLN 298.4 to 1,790.3 (EUR 64.9 to 389.2).

In the case of a training course, the full grant amount is provided on condition that the minimum duration of training is 150 hours. Where the duration is shorter, the grant is proportionately reduced but may not be lower than 20% of the unemployment benefit.

If an employee follows a programme in a school or further training at the request of the employer, he / she can receive financial and non-financial support from the employer.

An employee who is upgrading his / her vocational skills or qualifications retains the right to receive his / her salary and can be granted, in particular, training leave of:

  • 6 days: for taking external exams, the maturity exam or exams leading to vocational qualifications;

  • 21 days: during the final year of a degree programme, for preparing the final thesis and preparing for, and taking, the final exam.

An employee is also entitled to take a part of the day off or full day off in order to arrive in time for, and attend, compulsory classes.

The employer may grant additional benefits to an employee who is upgrading his / her vocational skills or qualifications. In particular, the employer can cover fees for training and costs of travel, textbooks and accommodation.

An employee who participates in types of adult training other than those discussed above may also be granted a (part of the) day off (although with no right to remuneration) and non-paid leave, the duration of which is agreed between the employee and the employer.

Furthermore, juvenile workers who are required to undertake further training receive time off from their employer as necessary to participate in training.

Related legislation: