|“We invite experts to cooperate, gather knowledge and build tools to support universities in designing their own solutions in order to strengthen the position of Polish science”|
Katarzyna Więcek-Jakubek is one of the people behind the concept of Interdisciplinary Centre for Staff Development. Head of the HR and Internal Communication Department at the University of Silesia in Katowice tells us about the idea for establishing the unit and the system solutions designed to support the Polish higher education sector.
You participated in the meetings during which the concept of Interdisciplinary Centre for Staff Development originated. What kind of vision united the participants of these discussions?
The Centre was intended as a partner for the higher education sector in Poland. We invite experts to cooperate, gather knowledge and build the tools to support universities in designing their own solutions in order to strengthen the position of Polish science. Each of the universities has its own specific character and sets the goals that are important for them, but I think that being immersed in the reality of Polish higher education allows us to find common ground and wonder how to use this potential wonder together.
Therefore, our task is to search for systemic solutions based on scientific knowledge, which can be planned in time and have set goals implementation of which we will be able to examine.
You have mentioned that the solutions will be based on scientific knowledge, but you also take into consideration the experiences of other foreign universities.
Foreign models frequently serve as an example of good practices. They often form groups composed of scientists, teachers and support staff. Such teams carry out research projects. Some of their members are responsible for the quality of conducted research, others use their teaching knowledge to organise work in a group, while other part of the team takes care of the formal aspect of the project, or ensures proper communication. We also applied this solution when we were building the team in the Centre that we are talking about. It consists of people who perform different functions at the University, including scientists, teachers and administration staff. This model has proven itself to be effective.
What goals are achieved at other universities in this way?
I had the pleasure to watch the solutions applied e.g. in the Scandinavian countries. The above-mentioned research projects are a good example. It is not the researcher who carries the whole burden of the project. I sometimes have the impression that a scientist at a Polish university literally has to take care of everything – find their way in the announced competitions, obtain funds for research, supervise the course of project implementation, build a team, infect its members with their passion, be an outstanding leader and teacher who takes care of their students and doctoral students, conduct excellent scientific research, prepare publications, work towards the university’s high ranking position, and, last but not least, promote their knowledge. This is not the way it should be. We really have the tools that will allow us to achieve the goals specified in the university development strategy in a different way, which is less burdensome for the scientists. Will this task be difficult? Of course it will. Despite this, I believe that we are capable of offering good practices which we either already know, or will develop within the Centre.
What is the main goal of the undertaken activities?
The Centre combines various initiatives, including implementation of research projects, development of specific system solutions for Polish universities and undertaking activities intended to commercialise such tools and solutions. Our advantage is built on access to the latest knowledge in many different scientific disciplines related to broadly understood human functioning at work.
This, in turn, suggests that the designed solutions should mainly interest the departments responsible for staff policy at Polish universities.
We have a fully formed vision of the goal that we want to achieve as the University of Silesia. It was formulated in one of the most important documents, i.e. the development strategy. I’m talking about the strengthening of our research position. Therefore, the HR department should be a partner, particularly for the university authorities, in the discussion on taking necessary steps that are supposed to bring us closer to achieving this goal. It applies to every university in Poland, due to the scope of the higher education reform.
This activity includes staff policy, but also formation of a certain work culture. We need specific tools allowing us to recruit new research employees, teachers and support staff, as well as to provide development opportunities for those who are associated with us.
Will the designed system solutions become a part of this reform?
We know many business solutions, but nobody tries to apply them in one-to-one mode with reference to such a specific structure as the University of Silesia. Therefore, we have made an effort to design several tools dedicated only to the Polish higher education sector, understood here as a suggestion which is worth getting familiar with, and perhaps testing.
The Centre operates based on the think tank formula. It is supposed to be a reservoir of knowledge.
We would like the Centre to be an important voice in the discussion on designing HR solutions for the higher education sector. We have taken into consideration the provisions of the Law on Higher Education and Science, European Charter for Researchers and rules stemming from the „Human Resources Strategy for Researchers”.
What will happen if such changes are not introduced at the University of Silesia?
The answer is simple: we will find it harder to achieve the set goals. Either we are a boat drifting in an endless ocean, or we do take the helm and we know where we are heading. Science is supposed to serve something. To a large extent, our operations are financed from the public funds. Even if we deny it, using the most beautiful words, we are in debt to the society.
Thank you for the interview.
|By Dr. Małgorzata Kłoskowicz|