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Passion for Business Education
October 1, 2010   
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Founded in 1936, the University of Economics in Katowice is one of the oldest universities in the Upper Silesia region. Today it has 15,000 students in four departments, providing more than 60 majors.

The University of Economics in Katowice is one of five state-run economics universities in Poland and the largest in the region, with a teaching staff of 500.

The university’s departments—Economics; Management; Finance and Insurance; and Computer Science and Communication—offer a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, postgraduate and doctoral courses. These are taught in Katowice or at one of the university’s two Research and Teaching Centers, in Bielsko-Biała and Rybnik. The university’s students can also study abroad under international exchange programs.

From the very beginning, the university’s courses and research projects were influenced by the fact that the university operated in a heavily urbanized, industrial region that was home to 2.5 million people.

The departments

Courses at the Economics Department focus on economic systems, regional economics and regional policy, labor market issues, regional development and transportation.

The Management Department focuses on process management and work organization in industry. Research and classes cover the most important aspects of modern-day management in both large corporations and small family businesses.

The Finance and Insurance Department provides staff for the banking sector and financial institutions.

The Computer Science and Communication Department trains computer scientists, business analysts and knowledge database designers for the corporate sector. Information technology and communication are essential for running a business these days, the university says. It aims to train computer scientists who understand the needs of both businesses and various social groups.

The Computer Science and Communication Department has a strategic partnership with the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice. This is because business is increasingly tied to art and industrial design these days, the department’s managers say.

International ties

In the 1990s, the university established the Silesian International Business School, together with the University of Silesia and French and Scottish partners. The project enabled many scientists to spend time at leading research centers abroad, while students were taught according to modern curricula. This experience served as the basis for further projects involving MBA studies and insurance.

New opportunities for international student exchanges appeared in the late 1990s after Poland joined the EU’s Socrates/Erasmus program.

International ties are a priority for the university. Hundreds of students study and do internships abroad every year. Many of these educational programs lead up to master’s or bachelor’s degrees from two or three universities. One pioneering project that blazed the trail for others were courses in international finance that the university offered in association with Nottingham Trent University and the Brno University of Technology. The latest program of this type is a course in asset and risk management on financial markets, offered in association with the University of Applied Sciences bfi Vienna and the New Anglo-American University in Prague.

Postgraduate students can take part in a joint program involving project management, taught together with a network of state universities in the Canadian province of Quebec.

The university offers a growing number of courses in English and other European languages. As a result, the number of foreign students enrolling at the university grows with each year.

According to the rector, Prof. Jan Pyka, the University of Economics has carved out a prominent place for itself within the European Research Area. The university’s international ties started with individual contacts, conference visits, and bilateral cooperation projects financed from government funds, Pyka says. After Poland joined the EU, the university became the first Polish beneficiary of the European Regional Development Fund and the leader of a project financed under the Interreg IIIC Community Initiative and focusing on developing effective systems for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.

Today the university is taking part in two projects under the EU’s 7th Framework Program, related to the development of innovation networks and systems. One of them involves what are called “anchor companies,” while in the other, partners from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are working together to create a Central European research area.

Thinking locally, acting globally

The University of Economics aims to play a major role in developing and carrying out a Regional Innovation Strategy and a Regional Development Strategy for Silesia province. The university takes part in business cluster programs and projects involving human resources and technology transfer. The university’s staff are working to develop methods for monitoring and evaluating economic processes and the impact of European funds on the region’s economy.

In the 2009/2010 academic year, the University of Economics and five other universities in the region launched a program for promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Silesia province. Together with the Central Mining Institute and the Silesian University of Technology, the University of Economics took part in one of Poland’s first regional and “technology foresight” projects. The project ended in success and served as the basis for more projects of this kind in the Upper Silesia conurbation, related to pubic services and regional development.

Interdepartmental initiative

The University of Economics runs an Interdepartmental Center for Foreign Language Learning and Promotion, which teaches foreign languages to students. Another institution operating as part of the university, the Silesian School of Foreign Languages for Economics, offers courses for those working in trade, industry and the service sector. The school has close ties to the business community and adapts its curricula to meet the needs of companies looking for qualified staff as well as the requirements of employees interested in obtaining new qualifications. The school has a license to hold exams as an authorized exam center for five European languages.

The Management School is another interdepartmental and self-financing unit of the University of Economics. Its core activity focuses on postgraduate studies for graduates of bachelor’s and master’s courses available at the university. Students can choose from more than 40 different programs. The Management School also develops other forms of education and instruction, such as training courses, seminars, coaching programs, and decision-making workshops. Since 1991, the school has trained 24,000 people in its postgraduate courses. Since 2005, the University of Economics has also been offering postgraduate studies co-financed with EU funds.

The University of Economics also includes the School of Physical Education and the Ph.D. Studies Unit. The university provides Ph.D. studies in the form of full-time and extramural courses.

The university runs the Labor and Social Dialogue Research Center, which focuses on studying and promoting social dialogue in relations between employees and employers, in association with local governments, as part of efforts to restructure the economy in the Upper Silesia conurbation and the Zagłębie D±browskie area.

The Center for Research and Expert Studies, established in 1995, takes advantage of the knowledge and experience of the university’s research staff to provide professional research, expert and consulting services. These services are offered to companies from various business sectors as well as organizations and local and regional institutions. Projects include market research, opinion surveys and brand recognition tests.

Promoting a knowledge-based economy

The university works to disseminate knowledge about economics and business among nonprofessionals. The university’s Stock Market School offers courses for anyone who wants to learn more about the capital market, stock market investment, derivative instruments, and fund raising.

The university has joined a nationwide educational program called the Children’s Economic University (EUD), launched in 2008 by the Foundation for the Promotion and Accreditation of Economic Education and the Warsaw School of Economics (SGH), and supported by the National Bank of Poland. The aim is to spread knowledge and build economic awareness among children. The EUD’s educational proposals are targeted at grade five and six elementary-school students.
Ewa Dereń
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