Meeting of the Council of the Fahrenheit Union of Universities at the University of Gdańsk


A summary of the last year of joint activities, the adoption of an appeal regarding the introduction of consolidation provisions in the Higher Education and Science Act and an invitation to the Fahrenheit Science Picnic were the main topics of the meeting of the Councils of the Daniel Fahrenheit Union of Universities in Gdańsk (FarU). The intention of the representatives of the universities forming the FarU is to strive for closer cooperation and, in the future, to create a federation of universities to increase their potential: not only in terms of research work but also in terms of cooperation with business or attractiveness to students. This time the meeting was hosted by the University of Gdańsk.

The meeting was chaired by the President of the Council of the University of Gdańsk, dr hab. Dominik Antonowicz, prof. UMK. After welcoming the participants, the Rector of the University of Gdańsk, prof. dr hab. Piotr Stepnowski, expressed his joy that a strategic decision related to the future of the Union was to be taken in the place where decisions concerning the functioning of the University of Gdańsk are made on a daily basis: a decision of joint appeal by the FarU to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education to streamline the legislative process regarding the creation of a federation of universities. He stressed that the communities of all three universities recognised the legitimacy of joining forces, and this trend was also maintained after the election of the new rectorial authorities. ‘More and more people are identifying with the initiative to gradually consolidate the universities,’ the Rector noted. Stressing the importance of the presence of the academic community in the process of integrating the local government environment, he said: ‘A consolidated federation of Fahrenheit universities can also play a very important role in the process of formal metropolisation - and become a metropolitan university.’

The Director of the Daniel Fahrenheit Union of Universities in Gdańsk, prof. dr hab. inż Adriana Zaleska-Medynska, talked about the activities and achievements related to the functioning of the FarU over the past year. She drew attention to the attractive scholarship offer for foreign students, and among the FarU's successes, she mentioned the successful second edition of the Fahrenheit Picnic, the official opening of the academic year and the FarU Quality Days, organised at Gdańsk University of Technology. She also recalled competitions such as the Fahrenheit Co-operation Champions or the interdisciplinary competition for students at four universities, organised in cooperation with the Regional Development Office. Similar ventures are very popular among students and give them the opportunity to gain valuable qualifications. Prof. Adriana Zaleska-Medynska also mentioned the grassroots initiative of the Fahrenheit Students' Union and changes related to the ongoing consolidation of the university (e.g. the introduction of a new library system), and presented examples of successful cooperation with the business environment, new agreements and partnerships, and the Union's plans for the near future.

MUG University Council representative Paweł Orłowski added that the Fahrenheit Union of Universities had been involved in creating an opinion for the activities planned under the Gdańsk Development Programmes. He expressed the hope that this was the beginning of a new approach to city management. The discussion also suggested approaching the newly elected authorities of Sopot and Gdynia to find out about the development strategies of these cities in terms of their friendliness to potential students. Prof. Stepnowski noted that it is in the plans of the new Mayor of Sopot to restore Sopot's status as a university city. ‘We are talking about Gdańsk, but we are thinking about the metropolis,' said the Rector.

Later in the discussion, the problem of cooperation between academia and business was raised, both on an individual and institutional level. ‘We are trapped in a trap of different objectives,’ noted a representative of the Academic Council of the Gdańsk University of Technology, Małgorzata Winiarek-Gajewska. She emphasised the value of the interdisciplinary potential of the Association of Fahrenheit Universities, but at the same time pointed out the divergence of priorities of universities and the business community in the economic and time context and the need to increase dynamics in this respect.

Other participants at the meeting drew attention to the issue of university evaluation, especially criterion 3, which talks about the impact of scientific activity on the functioning of society and the economy. Effective cooperation between science and business could prove beneficial to both parties, provided that difficulties related to divergent goals are overcome (e.g. the time needed for businesses to implement research results in the context of the university's publication priorities). Dr. hab. Anna Machnikowska, prof. UG, proposed developing a compromise model of action, assuming initial concentration on a limited number of objectives and currently available resources. The challenge for both the university and the business sector is to determine to what extent each party is willing to commit to the other once its own goals have been achieved (for example, the evaluation criterion has been 'saturated').

At the end of this part of the discussion, the Rector informed the audience that a few months ago, the UG Senate enacted the Conflict of Interest Policy, which resulted in an exponential increase in orders for the University. He also expressed his willingness to share this solution with the other FarU members.

The next item of business at the meeting was the discussion and subsequent adoption of a proposal by the Councils of the FarU for the introduction of consolidation provisions in the Higher Education and Science Act, which could facilitate the process of university federalisation - which could translate into more effective implementation of joint initiatives and goals. Given the length of the legislative procedures, it is likely that the Act could enter into force as early as autumn 2024.

FarU's next joint event will be the Fahrenheit Science Picnic, which will take place on May 26.


Karolina Żuk-Wieczorkiewicz/Press Team