On 1st October 2021, the oldest Polish University officially began the 658th academic year in its history. While most of the classes are planned to take place on site, some of the more popular lectures will be held online for safety reasons. In a few days, thousands of students will start their education at the University’s sixteen faculties.
‘At the beginning of a new academic year, I thank everyone who made it possible for the University to continue working towards its research, teaching and organisational goals despite all adversities’, said JU Rector Prof. Jacek Popiel, referring to various difficulties the Jagiellonian University, as many other higher education institutions around the world, has experienced during the last two years. He expressed special gratitude towards the staff of University hospitals, who worked tirelessly during the pandemic.
Prof. Jacek Popiel stressed that yet another time, the Jagiellonian University was ranked as the best Polish higher education institution by the Perspektywy Education Foundation. Together with several other Polish universities, it has also made it into the Shanghai Ranking and other prestigious world university rankings. He also mentioned that the Jagiellonian University has adopted a new development strategy for the next decade, stating that the joint work on the document made everyone realise that without a detailed and cohesive vision of Polish higher education, it will be hard to successfully complete the ambitious tasks taken up by the University.
‘If we are to think seriously about Polish higher education, we need to know the long term vision of our country’s government in this regard’, said Prof. Jacek Popiel, naming such difficulties as constantly changing in regulations and the decrease in funding for science and higher education. ‘As the Rector of the Jagiellonian University, I am all for the development of smaller higher education institutions, but I do not share the opinion that we should lower funding for universities in Warsaw, Kraków or Poznań. Such a decision invalidates all arguments about Polish universities achieving low marks in international rankings. We should first compare the funding of the top 100 universities to the funding received by the Jagiellonian University, University of Warsaw and AGH University of Science and Technology’, he added.
JU Rector also addressed the freshmen students about to undergo matriculation: ‘Be reliable and responsible. When it comes to COVID-19 and vaccinations, make your judgements based on scientific facts and medical knowledge. As members of the academic community, we should help encourage people to get vaccinated using our research', he said. He also added: ‘Be careful of lies. Stay true to the most basic meanings of the words freedom, equality, solidarity and dialogue. Remember that the Jagiellonian University imbues you not only with knowledge, but also with moral virtues, as it stated in our statute’.
The opening ceremony was preceded by a traditional Holy Mass at St. Anne’s Collegiate Church, after which the academic procession left Collegium Maius and proceeded to walk to Collegium Novum. During the event, distinguished researchers received the Jagiellonian Laurels, an award given by the Rector for outstanding academic achievements. This year, the awards were presented to Prof. Ewdoksia Papuci-Władyka, Prof. Katarzyna Turnau and Prof. Marian Szczepanik.
The matriculation of students from sixteen JU faculties was carried out by the JU Vice-Rector for Educational Affairs Prof. Armen Edigarian. ‘For most of you, the Jagiellonian University is more than a place where you work and study. We sincerely hope that the coming academic year will allow us to return to more traditional working environment. Since we now know how important it is for us, surely following safety regulation will not prove too overbearing. However, we need to remember that arrangements regarding the University’s activities and modes of teaching will be assessed based on the epidemiological situation’, said Prof. Edigarian.
Matriculation concluded by a speech by the newly elected president of the JU Student Government as well as a lecture by Prof. Bogdan de Barbaro entitled A psychotherapists’ perspective on modern pandemics.