December 18, 2023

NCU’s 2023 highlights: Milestones, Achievements, and Future Initiatives

By Professor Wojciech Wysota, Vice-Rector for Research of Nicolaus Copernicus University
in Toruń

Despite financial difficulties which affected the Polish higher education system, year 2023 was extremely important and fruitful for Nicolaus Copernicus University. We were celebrating the 550th anniversary of our patron’s birthday by holding the World Copernican Congress. The congress was an enormous undertaking. Among the entities involved in its organi`ation there were state and regional authorities, Jagiellonian University in Cracow, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, the Institute for the History of Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a number of educational and cultural institutions, as well as companies and associations. Four editions of the Congress – two in Toruń, one in Cracow and one in Olsztyn – were attended by thousands of people from Poland and various parts of the world in lectures, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, competitions and other events. The jubilee was an opportunity for us to take action to integrate and popularize knowledge. Its fruit is the establishment of the World Copernican Research Center, a scientific institution of international scope. A lasting vestige of the anniversary is also the Copernican Integration Center, a complex of historic, restored buildings located in the woods of the campus – a place for meetings, workshops and cultural events open to all willing, including residents of Toruń and the surrounding area.

Many months of celebration have not prevented us from our daily important tasks and ambitious plans. We are focusing hard at the moment on the implementation of the Strategy adopted for 2021-2026. Through a variety of initiatives and changes, we are improving the quality and scope of our research, the level of education, and the comfort of working and learning. We are intensifying relations with the environment and improving the management of our institution. An extremely important event for us in the research and teaching area this year was the mid-term evaluation of the Excellence Initiative – Research University project. The program is one of the key elements of the reform of science and higher education in Poland in recent years. Its goal is to increase the international significance of the university’s activities by improving the quality level of scientific activities and the quality level of education. In the first competition of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the status of a research university was granted to 10 universities, including Nicolaus Copernicus University. This year, after three years, a group of international experts has analyzed our way of implementing the project. Their favorable assessment and recommendations for the coming years are of incredible importance to us.

At the moment, we are concluding the activities related to changing the system of administrative support in terms of project management. By the middle of next year, we will introduce structural changes, which will improve both the application and implementation process. The changes will involve both the departments serving the projects and Faculties.      

This year, we continued to implement the NCU Research Portal, available in English. We have entered data on projects, patents, degrees and titles of our employees into it. We will also soon launch the “Research Teams” module, where we will record our research teams and groups and their achievements. Users will be able to search for a research team based on key words or research topics, view the team’s composition and achievements, and finally contact us for collaboration. We invite our YERUN colleagues to visit the NCU Research Portal, browse data on the achievements of our staff, and engage in research collaborations.

In addition, we are continuing to fulfil the commitments resulting from the HR Excellence in Research logo awarded to us eight years ago. In 2022, we passed the European Commission’s audit and received an outstanding grade. The experts appreciated the key link between the HR strategy for researchers and the ongoing action plan and the University Strategy through adequate internal regulations and commitment from the authorities. They also pointed out that they were prepared in an excellent manner in terms of ambition and structural approach. We were recognized for our visible efforts, the high quality of the activities implemented and our full commitment to ensuring the implementation of the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for Recruitment.

The research conducted in the domain of European higher education system, as well as our own, carried out among our students, employees and employers, demonstrate that me must pay much more attention to competencies of the future.  Our university, obviously, provides the opportunity to acquire such competencies in the traditional model, but the time has come to pursue them in a defined and systematized way. Therefore, we have decided this year to introduce the so-called competence blocks into our educational offer. We direct it to all students, regardless of their study program. Each block will consist of 4 to 6 classes, which students will be able to complete throughout their education cycle. Very importantly, the blocks will be certified; our students will receive certification of the competencies obtained within the blocks, regardless of whether they graduate. We plan to launch 30 such blocks of competencies of the future.

We are concluding year 2023 with satisfaction and entering year 2024 with joy and hope. This is also what we wish to all our friends from YERUN!


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