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Members of International Baccalaureate Programme face double standards in admission to Polish universities

The HFHR has received a reply from the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland regarding the difficulties faced by alumni of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme in university admission procedures. CRAS determined that the relevant provisions of the Education System Act were discriminatory in nature.

A.B. case

Let us remind our readers that the Foundation was approached by A.B., a student of a Polish general secondary school who obtained an IB diploma. Several years later, she decided to enrol for another university programme. The recruitment requirements included the presentation of a secondary leaving examination grade in a subject that was not a part of the woman’s IB programme. To rectify this, A.B. wanted to take a standard exam on this subject at the advanced level.

Double standards

Pursuant to the Education System Act, secondary school leavers may take the secondary school leaving examination (matura) in additional, selected subjects, in accordance with the rules that apply in the year during which such an additional examination is taken. However, in the case of A.B., both the Regional and National Examination Board decided the provisions of the Act did not apply to the holders of IB diplomas. These provisions were labelled by CRAS as discriminatory.

In June 2016, the HFHR sent statements to the Minister of National Education and the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland. The Foundation emphasised that the rules that nearly prevent IB graduates from taking additional matura exams violated the constitutional guarantees of the right to education and equal access to education.

CRAS acknowledges problem

The Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland sent a reply to the HFHR’s statement. CRAS informed that it had formulated its position on the elimination of barriers in access to university education for candidates with international certifications of secondary education.

To tackle the problem, CRAS has proposed, among other things, that the laws on additional entry exams organised by universities should be interpreted in a way favourable to the holders of IB diplomas. However, such exams may not be taken in subjects covered by the matura examination. The laws on the higher education system allow this option but only if such additional exams need to be organised in order to verify “special traits” of would-be students.

“CRAS’ acknowledgement of the problem with the IB examination is a crucial development. We hope this will be the first step towards the creation of procedures that enable unrestricted access to Polish universities for secondary school leavers with IB diplomas. It is likely that with each passing year similar problems may be experienced by increasingly more people”, says Katarzyna Wiśniewska, an attorney working for the HFHR.

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