Definition of the target group(s)
Higher education institutions (HEIs) provide learning support to students (the term referring to first-, second- and long-cycle students) and doctoral students who:
- have disabilities;
- are in a difficult financial situation;
- are pregnant or are parents;
- international students.
(Act of 20 July 2018, The Law on Higher Education and Science (as subsequently amended) / Ustawa z dnia 20 lipca 2018 r. Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce)
Specific support measures
Admission to first- and long-cycle programmes is based on the results of the maturity exam. The senate of an HEI decides which maturity exam results are the basis for admission. Where an HEI conducts additional entrance exams (which is possible only in the cases specified in the Law), related admission conditions and procedures should take into account specific needs of applicants with disabilities.
In accordance with the rules laid down in an HEI’s study regulations, students have the right to:
- transfer the ECTS credits earned and have them recognised;
- follow an individualised study programme;
- be absent from class if non-attendance is excused; be granted leave of absence from class, and leave of absence from class with the possibility to undergo an assessment of the achieved learning outcomes defined in a curriculum;
- follow a second degree programme;
- transfer to a different degree programme / field of study;
- transfer to a full-time or part-time degree programme;
- take a resit exam before an examination board, with an observer chosen by the student;
- repeat specific classes / courses due to unsatisfactory academic performance;
- have a 50% discount on local public transport fare.
TheLaw on Higher Education and Science (Ustawa z dnia 20 lipca 2018 r. Prawo o szkolnictwie wyższym i nauce) provides for specific support measures for students who:
- have disabilities;
- are in a difficult financial situation;
- have high learning achievements.
The quality of learning support provided by an HEI is one of the criteria of an external programme evaluation periodically conducted by the Polish Accreditation Committee.
(Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 12 September 2018 on the criteria for programme evaluation / Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 12 września 2018 r. w sprawie kryteriów oceny programowej)
HEIs are required to provide conditions for full participation of persons with disabilities in;
- the student admissions process;
- education; and
- research activity.
The rector of an HEI is required to consider the needs of people with disabilities in organising and equipping workstations and learning facilities.
(Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 30 October 2018 on the arrangements to provide safe and healthy conditions for work and education / Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 30 października 2018 r. w sprawie sposobu zapewnienia w uczelni bezpiecznych i higienicznych warunków pracy i kształcenia).
HEIs may not refuse to:
- give consent to follow a full-time degree programme based on individualised organisational arrangements until graduation;
- grant leave of absence from class
to female students who are pregnant and students who are parents.
Leave of absence from class is granted to:
- female students who are pregnant, for the period until the date of childbirth;
- students who are parents, for a period of up to 1 year.
Students may apply for various types of financial support:
- a maintenance grant;
- a grant for disabled people;
- an aid payment;
- the rector’s scholarship;
- a scholarship / grant funded by a local government unit;
- a scholarship for learning or sporting achievements funded by a natural person or a legal person other than a corporate body administered by national or local authorities.
A maintenance grant may be awarded to students who are in a difficult financial situation. The threshold for the per-capita income in the family that entitles the student to apply for a maintenance grant is set by the rector of an HEI in consultation with the student self-government body, and in accordance with the conditions laid down by the Law on Higher Education and Science.
A grant for disabled people may be awarded to students with a disability confirmed by a statement referred to in the legislation.
(Act of 27 August 1997 on Occupational and Social Rehabilitation and the Employment of Disabled People (as subsequently amended) / ustawa z dnia 27 sierpnia 1997 r. o rehabilitacji zawodowej i społecznej oraz zatrudnianiu osób niepełnosprawnych)
An aid payment is available to students who are temporarily in difficult life circumstances.
The rector’s scholarship may be granted to a student who has outstanding learning, research or artistic achievements, or has achieved high results in sports at least at national level.
In consultation with the student self-government body, the rector of an HEI adopts regulations on financial support for students which specify:
- the level of financial benefits or the method for determining the level;
- detailed criteria and procedures for granting benefits, providing accommodation and meals, and arrangements for the payment of benefits.
Students may also receive scholarships from local government units. The decision-making body of a local government unit may lay down conditions for returning a scholarship and renouncing a pay-back claim.
Scholarships for learning or sporting achievements may be awarded to students by a natural person or a legal person other than a corporate body administered by national or local authorities.
Students may receive a student credit if they have not reached the age of 30 and the average monthly per-capita income in their family, in the year preceding the year in which an application is submitted, is lower than or equal to the amount determined in accordance with the legislation.
Furthermore, students may apply for:
- accommodation in the HEI’s dormitory;
- meals in the HEI’s student canteen;
- accommodation in the HEI’s hall of residence for their spouse or child.
Students who have significant research or artistic achievements related to their studies or significant sporting achievements may be awarded, at the request of the rector, a scholarship of the Minister of Science and Higher Education. It is awarded for one academic year.
The Minister also awards scholarships to outstanding young scholars who have significant research achievements.
The study regulations of HEIs set out the methods of adjusting organisational arrangements and proper implementation of the teaching process to the specific needs of students with disabilities, including the adaptation of studying conditions to the type of disability.
HEIs undertake various activities for persons with disabilities which are designed to:
- overcome barriers in access to HEI buildings and student dormitories;
- provide access to learning resources which are adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities; for example, Braille adaptations, large print, e-versions, audio versions;
- ensure that students with disabilities can use other persons’ help; for example, persons helping with moving, sign language interpreters, transliterators;
- ensure access to specialist hardware and software;
- organise alternative classes such as physical education, adapted language classes;
- adapt the form of an exam or the organisation of exam sessions to the needs of persons with disabilities; for example: the extension of the duration of exams’ use of adapted materials or computer equipment in written exams; change in the form of an exam;
- arrange transportation for student with disabilities between their place of residence and the place where they attend classes.
To support students and doctoral students with disabilities and teaching staff working with them, many HEIs have appointed disabled person officers or established units helping disabled persons (for example, offices, centres, help desks). The organisational structure, type and responsibilities of these units vary between HEIs and are specified by a given HEI in a senate resolution or the rector’s regulations.
Below are examples of tasks performed by officers and units supporting persons with disabilities:
- identify needs, problems and expectations of students with disabilities;
- assist HEI units in putting in place arrangements for persons with disabilities, including advice on modern technological devices supporting teaching / learning processes;
- offer help to address problems on an ongoing basis;
- give advice on the choice of a field of study based on the candidate’s individual abilities and degree of disability;
- remove barriers preventing access to information and educational resources;
- provide candidates with information about education offered to persons with disabilities;
- undertake activities to ensure social integration and activation of persons with disabilities;
- collaborate with other HEIs, central and local government bodies and non-governmental organisations supporting persons with disabilities;
- support persons with disabilities and HEIs in obtaining financial support offered under programmes for disabled persons;
- represent the interests of persons with disabilities vis-a-vis an HEI’s governing bodies and in external relations.
Public and non-public HEIs receive State-budget funding in the form of targeted / specific-beneficiary grants to provide:
- conditions for full participation of students and doctoral students with disabilities in the admissions process, the learning process or in research activity;
- non-reimbursable financial support to students and doctoral students.
The legislation sets out the method for the allocation of funding to HEIs for:
- financial support for students;
- tasks undertaken to provide conditions for full participation of persons with disabilities in the admissions process, the learning process or in research activity.
The allocation method takes into consideration the number of the HEI’s students, doctoral students and staff with disabilities, including:
- hearing impairment,
- visual impairment,
- a motor disability, and other types of disability,
as confirmed by a statement from the competent body.
(Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 25 September 2018 on the method for the allocation of funding to higher education institutions for student benefits and for tasks related to providing conditions for full participation of disabled persons in the student and doctoral student admission process, the learning process as part of degree programmes or research activities (as subsequently amended) / Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 25 września 2018 r. w sprawie sposobu podziału dla uczelni środków finansowych na świadczenia dla studentów oraz na zadania związane z zapewnieniem osobom niepełnosprawnym warunków do pełnego udziału w procesie przyjmowania na studia, do szkół doktorskich, kształceniu na studiach i w szkołach doktorskich lub prowadzeniu działalności naukowej).
State-budget grants may be used to cover the costs of:
- teaching and learning facilities / infrastructure for students and doctoral students with disabilities;
- specialist training;
- equipment to be rented by students with disabilities;
- specialist equipment, teaching and learning resources purchased and adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities;
- transport between an HEI’s teaching facilities;
- fees for sign language interpreters;
- sign language courses for staff of an HEI;
- salaries of assistants to students and doctoral students with disabilities, who are employed at an HEI;
- training in spatial orientation on the premises of an HEI provided to students and doctoral students with disabilities;
- activities raising awareness of disability and the presence of people with disabilities in HEIs;
- purchase of equipment to be rented by persons with disabilities;
- purchase of equipment and specialist equipment assisting the teaching / learning process, for example, specialist software, lecture text projectors;
- organisation of physical education classes adapted to the needs of students with disabilities;
- purchase of specialist and scientific literature to be used by students and doctoral students with disabilities.
Additionally, public HEIs receive targeted / specific-purpose grants covering or contributing towards costs of infrastructural projects, including those which support the training of students and doctoral students with disabilities .
Students and doctoral students with disabilities may also receive a grant for disabled persons.
Grants for disabled persons are awarded for a semester or an academic year and paid each month. They may be awarded for only one degree programme taken, as indicated by the student.
To receive a grant for disabled persons, a student or doctoral student should submit:
- a disability certificate indicating the degree of disability; or
- a certificate of unfitness for work; or
- a certificate of disability of category I, II or III.
Such certificates are issued by committees diagnosing disability and its degree.
(Act of 27 August 1997 on Occupational and Social Rehabilitation and the Employment of Disabled People (as subsequently amended) / Ustawa z dnia 27 sierpnia 1997 r. o rehabilitacji zawodowej i społecznej oraz zatrudnianiu osób niepełnosprawnych)
(Regulation of the Minister of Economy, Labour and Social Policy of 15 July 2003 on diagnosing disability and its degree (as subsequently amended) / Rozporządzenie Ministra Gospodarki Pracy i Polityki Społecznej z dnia 15 lipca 2003 r. w sprawie orzekania o niepełnosprawności i stopniu niepełnosprawności)
Persons with disabilities may also receive other types of financial support according to the same rules as other students.
Furthermore, students and doctoral students with disabilities may apply for student credits, where the State budget covers the interest charge and the repayment conditions are preferential.
Maintenance grants are available to students in a difficult financial situation. In consultation with the student self-government body, the rector of an HEI determines the per-capita income in the family that entitles students to apply for such a grant. The income should be within the limits set by the national legislation.
Where this is particularly justified, the amount of a maintenance grant awarded to a student may be increased.
An aid payment is available to students who are temporarily in difficult life circumstances. Students may receive an aid payment only twice in an academic year.
The rector’s scholarship may be awarded to a student who has outstanding learning, research or artistic achievements, or has achieved high results in sports at least at national level.
The rector’s scholarship may be awarded to a student who was enrolled on the first year of study in the year when he / she passed the maturity exam, and who is:
- the winner of an international competition or the winner or a finalist in a national competition;
- a medallist in a sporting contest at least at the Polish-championship level in a given sporting discipline.
The Minister’s scholarship for outstanding achievements may be awarded to students with outstanding research or artistic achievements related to their degree programme or for outstanding sporting achievements.
A scholarship of the Minister of Science and Higher Education may be awarded to a non-Polish national who is enrolled on a first-, second- or long-cycle programme, in a doctoral school, on a non-degree postgraduate programme, or on a specialist programme or another course, or who participates in research activities or teaches classes.
A non-Polish national may also receive from the Minister a grant covering or contributing towards fees for education services, and a lump sum for the costs of travel, subsistence and accommodation. Such grants are paid through the National Agency for Academic Exchange (Narodowa Agencja Wymiany Akademickiej, NAWA).