The responsibility for teaching staff policies in the higher education sector rests with the Minister of Science and Higher Education.
The Minister of Science and Higher Education is responsible for matters related to:
supervision of HEIs with regard to the compliance of their activities with the national legislation and the requirements for the provision of programmes;
labour regulations for academic staff, and awards for academic staff for outstanding research, teaching and organisational achievements and lifetime achievements;
doctoral and postdoctoral degrees (doktor and doktor habilitowany, respectively) the title of professor (profesor) in the areas of science and fine arts;
disciplinary liability of academic staff.
Statistical data on academic staff is provided in an annual publication by the Central Statistical Office. The most recent edition: Higher Education and its Finances (2023) Gdańsk, Warsaw.
Information on academic and non-academic staff in higher education is provided by the POL-on system: the integrated science and higher education information system that supports the Ministry of Education and Science, the Central Statistical Office and the Council for Research Excellence. It aims to serve as a global database on research institutions, HEIs and research in Poland. Data gathered in the system supports the Ministry of Education and Science in decisions relating to Polish HEIs and research institutions. POL-on facilitates decisions on where funding for education should be targeted and on financial support for students.
One of the POL-on thematic sections is the register of research staff in research institutions other than HEIs and academic staff in HEIs. Data in the register is used to verify whether institutions comply with the minimum staff requirements for individual fields of study, and to monitor multiple job holding by academic staff and the authorisations held by HEIs to award doctoral and post-doctoral degrees and professorial titles. HEIs and other research institutions are required to input, update, archive and remove data on dates specified in the legislation to ensure that institutions and units responsible for higher education have access on an ongoing basis to up-to-date data on academic staff and HEIs’ compliance with related criteria.
The POL-on system also includes information on disciplinary penalties discussed below.
Entry to the profession
Academic teachers are divided into the following groups:
research staff, and
Academic teachers should fulfil the following general requirements:
have qualifications set out in the Law on Higher Education and Science (Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce) and the statutes of an HEI;
have not been punished with a disciplinary penalty;
have full legal capacity;
have full civic rights;
have not been convicted of an intentional offence or an international tax offence by a valid court judgement.
The legislation sets the following requirements for each position available to academic staff:
Professor: the title of professor (profesor) (a person holding the title of professor may be employed only in the position of Professor);
University Professor: at least a doctoral degree (doktor) and:
- for teaching staff: significant teaching or professional achievements;
- for research staff: significant research or artistic achievements;
- for research-and-teaching staff: significant research, artistic or teaching achievements.
Assistant Professor: at least a doctoral degree (doktor).
Assistant: a Master’s degree (magister or magister inżynier) or an equivalent degree.
The statutes of a higher education institution (HEI) may specify other positions for academic staff and related additional qualification requirements. The latter may not relate to the holding of, or the requirement to obtain a doctoral or postdoctoral degree or the professorial title.
The first employment contract with an academic teacher at a given HEI is concluded for an indefinite term or a fixed term of 4 years. When the outcome of a periodic performance appraisal is positive, an employment contract with an academic teacher may be concluded for an indefinite term without holding a competition. This means that a competition should be held only for the recruitment of a new academic teacher.
An open competition is held in case the first employment relationship with an academic teacher in a given public HEI is established for an indefinite term or for fixed term longer than 3 months, and for the workload which exceeds 50% of full-time employment. The statutes of an HEI lay down the procedure and conditions for competitions.
Information about the competition and its result, together with justification, is published in the Public Information Bulletin on the websites of the HEI concerned, the minister responsible for higher education (and, in the case of HEIs supervised by other ministers, the minister supervising the HEI) 30 days, respectively, before the competition and after its end. Information is also published in the English language on the websites of the European Commission, in the European EURAXESS portal for mobile researchers, 30 days before the competition.
The national regulations on competitions are not applicable in case an HEI employs for a fixed term an academic teacher who:
is a beneficiary of a project, programme or grant under a Call published by the National Agency for Academic Exchange (Narodowa Agencja Wymiany Akademickiej, NAWA), the National Centre for Research and Development (Narodowe Centrum Badań i Rozwoju, NCBR), the National Science Centre (Narodowe Centrum Nauki, NCN) or under an international Call for research proposals;
is hired for the implementation period of a research or education project funded by the European Union or another grant-awarding body.
The employment contract with an academic teacher indicates whether a given HEI is the place of his / her primary employment. An HEI may be the place of primary employment only if a teacher is employed in it on a full-time basis. A teacher can have only one place of primary employment.
Academic teachers working in a public HEI which is the place of their primary employment may, with the consent of its rector, take or keep another job with only one employing organisation which conducts teaching or research activities. The rector approves or refuses to approve a teacher’s request for such a consent within 2 months of the date of submission of the request. Refusal to give consent should be substantiated. The rector’s consent is not required if a teacher has or takes up a job in an entity with which the HEI collaborates on the basis of a contract or agreement or for which the HEI is the administering body, the founder or a shareholder; or in a government agency, cultural institution or institution or unit of the school education system as specified in the Law on School Education (Prawo oświatowe) (Art. 2). An academic teacher who carries out economic activity informs thereof the rector of the HEI that is the place of his / her primary employment. The rector of an HEI is required to obtain the consent of the HEI council to conduct any additional paid professional activity.
Within an HEI, there should be no direct reporting relationship between spouses and individuals who maintain a common household (the provision is not applicable to rectors of HEIs), are related by consanguinity or affinity up to the second degree, or are in a relationship of adoption, care or custody.
Recruitment rules and procedures in non-public HEIs are laid down in their statutes. If the statutes of a non-public HEI do not include relevant regulations, the provisions of the Law on Higher Education and Science are applied.
The rector of an HEI provides an academic staff identity card at the request of an academic teacher. The validity period of an identity card is extended:
on an annual basis in the case of academic teachers employed for an indefinite period;
on a semester basis in the case of academic teachers employed for a fixed period.
Professional duties and social responsibility
Academic staff are an intellectual and scientific elite, enjoying the freedom to conduct scientific research, freedom of artistic creation and freedom of teaching. Therefore, every scholar takes responsibility for the quality and reliability of the research conducted and for the education of the young generation. As the preamble to the Law on Higher Education and Science (ustawa Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce) states, HEIs and other research institutions carry out a mission of particular importance to the state and the nation. It is through their activities, that is, work of academics and research staff, that the economy becomes more innovative and culture develops. Being an intellectual and scientific elite imposes a responsibility on HEIs and their staff to contribute to the shaping of the ethical standards of public life.
In view of the key role of higher education and the expectations set for academic staff, including the implementation of activities of creative nature and requiring a high level of expertise, they are granted the rights of creators in respect of copyright protection.
Academic staff have the following main responsibilities:
teaching staff: teach and educate students or participate in the training of doctoral students;
research staff: conduct research activities or participate in the training of doctoral students;
research-and-teaching staff: conduct research activities, teach and educate students or participate in the training of doctoral students.
Academic teachers may perform their duties also outside of an HEI, in accordance with arrangements laid down in, and in units identified in, its working regulations.
Academic staff are required to contribute to organisational tasks of their HEI and enhance their professional skills on a continuous basis. The rector of a higher education institution (HEI) provides a detailed job description to each academic teacher.
Academic staff are liable to disciplinary measures for conduct contrary to the duties of an academic teacher or for not maintaining the dignity of the profession. It is not a disciplinary offence to express religious, ideological or philosophical beliefs.
Disciplinary penalties include:
- reprimand combined with a 10% to 25% reduction in the basic salary for a period of 1 month to 2 years;
- ineligibility to perform the role of a supervisor, reviewer or board member in proceedings leading to the award of a doctoral degree, a postdoctoral degree and the professorial title for a period of 1 to 5 years;
- ineligibility to perform a management function in HEIs for a period of 6 months to 5 years;
- expulsion from the home HEI;
- expulsion from the home HEI combined with a ban on working in HEIs for a period of 6 months to 5 years;
- a ban on practising the profession of academic teacher for a period of 10 years.
One disciplinary penalty is imposed for one disciplinary offence, and one and the most severe penalty is imposed for several offences.
Termination of employment
The employment contract of an academic teacher expires in the following cases:
the teacher no longer fulfils the recruitment requirements (see point: Entry to the Profession);
it is established that the employment contract is based on false or invalid documents;
a disciplinary penalty of expulsion from the home HEI has been imposed on the teacher;
a penal measure imposed prohibits the teacher from holding a specific position if the decision imposing the measure concerns the performance of duties of an academic teacher;
the teacher has received a sentence of imprisonment.
The tasks related to the disciplinary liability of academic staff in an HEI are assigned to disciplinary prosecutors, appointed by the rector from among academic staff holding at least a doctoral degree.
For teacher performance appraisal, see Chapter 11 “Quality assurance”.
The salary of an employee of a public higher education institution (HEI) consists of fixed and variable components. The fixed components include:
the basic salary, and
a length-of-service allowance.
An employee of a public HEI may also receive variable components, which include:
a function-related allowance;
a task-related allowance;
a hardship allowance for work in hazardous or difficult conditions;
a bonus in the case of non-academic staff;
other allowances if provided for in the collective labour agreement or the remuneration regulations of a given HEI.
The length-of-service allowance amounts to 1% of the basic salary for each year of employment. It is paid on a monthly basis, from the fourth year of employment, but its amount may not exceed 20% of the basic salary.
The function-related allowance is granted for managing a team composed of at least 5 members, including the team leader. The amount of the allowance may not exceed 67% of the salary of a professor and depends on the number of team members and the complexity of tasks.
The task-related allowance may be granted for a temporarily extended scope of responsibilities or additional tasks performed on a temporary basis, or as based on the nature or conditions of work. The level of the allowance may not exceed 80% of the total amount of the basic salary and the function-related allowance.
Academic staff receive the function-related and task-related allowances during an authorised absence at work, but not longer than for 3 months.
The Minister of Science and Higher Education has established, by regulation, the level of the basis salary for a Professor. As of 1 January 2023, the minimum basic monthly salary for a Professor in a public HEI is PLN 7,210 (1567 EUR) .
The basic monthly salaries in a public HEI are as follows :
for a University Professor: at least 83% of the salary of a Professor,
for an Assistant Professor: at least 73% of the salary of a Professor,
for an Assistant and other academic staff: at least 50% of the salary of a Professor.
As of 1 January 2023, the minimum salaries are as follows:
PLN 7,210 (1567 EUR) for a Professor;
PLN 5,985 (1301 EUR) for a University Professor;
PLN 5,265 (1145 EUR) for an Assistant Professor;
PLN 3,605 (784 EUR) for an Assistant/Lecturer;
Employees of public HEIs are entitled to anniversary awards for a long period of service:
75% of the monthly salary for 20 years of service;
100% of the monthly salary for 25 years of service;
150% of the monthly salary for 30 years of service;
200% of the monthly salary for 35 years of service;
300% of the monthly salary for 40 years of service;
400% of the monthly salary for 45 years of service.
An employee gains the right to receive an anniversary award in the HEI where he / she is employed on the end date of the period giving the entitlement to the award. If he / she has more than one employment relationship, the entitlement to an award is determined separately by each employer.
In case the employment relationship is terminated when employees retire at the statutory pension age or earlier due to ill health / incapacity for work, they are entitled to receive an award if less than 12 months are left to the date when they would be eligible to receive it.
An employee of a public HEI is entitled to an additional end-of-year remuneration in accordance with the rules laid down in the legislation on additional end-of-year remuneration for state-budget units.
Provisions of the Labour Code (ustawa – Kodeks Pracy) apply to employment relationship matters which are not regulated by the Law on Higher Education and Science (ustawa – Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce).
Academic and non-academic staff may receive awards for professional achievements from the rector. Additionally, academic staff may receive awards for significant achievements in research, teaching, the implementation of research and development results or significant organisational achievements or for lifetime achievements which are granted by the Prime Minister and the ministers whose remit covers a given scientific discipline. Detailed requirements and conditions for granting awards are laid down in Regulations of the individual ministers and the Prime Minister.
Working time and holidays
Academic staff work in a task-based working time system, which specifies the teaching load, including the number of hours for teaching duties.
The duration of one class / teaching hour is 45 minutes.
The annual teaching load is:
up to 240 class hours for research-and-teaching staff;
up to 180 class hours for research-and-teaching staff holding the position of Professor;
up to 360 class hours for teaching staff;
up to 540 class hours for teaching staff holding the position of Foreign Language Teacher or Instructor if such a position is provided for in the statutes of an HEI.
The annual teaching load includes the time allocated to the training of doctoral students.
In specific cases, where this is justified by the need to implement a curriculum in an HEI, academic staff may be required to teach classes as overtime hours. The additional teaching load may not exceed:
¼ of the annual teaching load for research-and-teaching staff;
½ of the annual teaching load for teaching staff.
With their consent, academic staff may teach classes for a number of overtime hours that does not exceed the double annual teaching load.
Academic staff may not be assigned overtime duties without their prior consent during pregnancy or when they take care of a child of up to 4 years of age.
The statutes of a non-public HEI may define a different teaching load and a different number of working hours for its employees.
Academic staff are entitled to holiday leave of 36 working days per year.
Detailed rules and procedures for granting holiday leave and other types of leave are laid down in the work regulations of an HEI.
During their holiday leave, academic staff are entitled to receive the same salary as they would receive if they were working. This includes variable components of the salary, calculated on the basis of the average salary for the last 12 months or, if the employment period is shorter, for the entire period.
In case academic staff do not take their holiday leave due to the termination or expiry of the employment relationship, they are entitled to a cash equivalent for the period of unused leave.
Days free of duty which are provided for in a timetable for a five-day working week are not included in holiday leave.
The rector may grant the following types of paid research or study leave to academic staff:
paid sabbatical leaves to conduct research, with their total duration of up to 1 year during 7 years of work at a given HEI, for staff holding at least a doctoral degree;
paid sabbatical leave of up to 3 months for staff preparing a doctoral dissertation;
paid leave to undertake a training period, research or teaching placement abroad, or to participate in a conference abroad, conduct a search, undertake a study visit, conduct another kind of research activity, or to conduct joint research with a foreign institution based on an agreement on research cooperation;
paid leave to conduct joint research with the Łukasiewicz Centre or an institute of the Łukasiewicz Research Network.
After at least 10 years of work in an HEI, a full-time academic teacher who has not reached the age of 65 is entitled to paid medical leave. Another medical leave may not be granted earlier than 3 years after the end of the previous one. The total duration of medical leave during the entire employment period may not exceed 3 years. Medical leave is granted based on a medical certificate which states that the teacher should refrain from work due to his / her health condition and prescribes a recommended treatment and the time required to undergo it. A doctor conducts a medical examination based on a referral issued by the rector of the HEI at the request of the teacher. The costs of medical examination are covered by the HEI (not more often than once every 3 years).
Teachers are not allowed to do paid work during their medical leave.
Arrangements for medical examination and certificates are laid down in a regulation by the minister responsible for health in consultation with the minister responsible for higher education and science.
The academic and professional career of academic staff makes a distinction between:
degrees, referred to as professional titles in the national legislation;
academic / research degrees and the academic / research title;
positions held in a higher education institution.
Degrees / Professional titles
Degrees / professional titles are Bachelor's degrees (licencjat or inżynier or an equivalent degree for first-cycle programmes) and Master's degrees (magister or magister inżynier or an equivalent degree for second-cycle or long-cycle programmes). Such degrees are awarded by an administrative decision of the rector of a higher education institution (HEI).
Academic / research degrees and the academic / research title
The following academic / research qualifications are awarded within the higher education and science system:
academic / research degrees in the areas of science and fine arts:
- a doctoral degree (doktor)
- a postdoctoral degree / doctor habilitatus (doktor habilitowany)
the title of professor (profesor).
Research-and-teaching positions and teaching positions:
University Professor (profesor uczelni),
Assistant Professor (adiunkt),
any other position as specified in the statutes of an HEI (e.g. Instructor, Foreign Language Teacher).
Academic teachers may also perform management functions:
the functions of rector, vice-rector, chancellor (if the statutes of an HEI provide for the vice-rector or chancellor functions);
functions in collective bodies such as the senate of an HEI, the council for a scientific discipline;
the function of head and deputy head of an HEI’s organisational unit:
dean and vice-dean of a faculty if the faculty is the basic organisational unit (if the statutes of an HEI provide for the dean and vice-dean positions);
head of a department, institute, centre or college if such functions are provided for in the statutes of an HEI.
For further information, see Chapter 10 ‘Management and Other Education Staff’.
Retirement and pensions
Academic teachers and members of their families are entitled to benefits based on the Act on Retirement Pensions and Disability Pensions from the Social Security Fund (ustawa o rentach i emeryturach z Funduszu Ubezpieczeń Społecznych).
Currently, the national legislation does not address the issue of the retirement / pension age for employees of higher education institutions (HEIs). Thus, general regulations, which specify the state pension age, apply. Academic teachers may retire in accordance with the general rules laid down in the legislation on retirement: at the age of 60 for women and 65 for men. However, academic teachers normally work much longer. The fact of reaching the state pension age may not in itself be the reason for terminating an employment contract.
The basis for the calculation of a retirement or disability pension is determined according to the general rules laid down in the legislation on the retirement pensions and disability pensions from the Social Security Fund. The basis also includes overtime pay, allowances and all awards for professional achievements received during the years that are the reference period for a retirement or disability pension.
Academic teachers who retire at the state pension age or due to ill health / incapacity for work are entitled to receive a one-off retirement gratuity from the HEI that is the place of their primary employment. The gratuity is equivalent to 300% of the basic salary paid for the full final month of employment.