Potential gains and/or obstacles of embedding the Charter and the Code into your working context
Good and/or bad practices around implementing the Charter and the Code
The Independent Academic Forum groups Polish researchers working in Poland and abroad. It was the first research-related body in Poland to provide information about the Charter and Code on its internet page (www.nfa.pl) and express opinion on implementing it in Poland (March 19, 2005; http://www.nfa.pl/articles.php?id=73 ). We emphasized that in accordance with the Charter and Code the following principles of good practice should be implemented in Poland urgently to improve researchers’ working conditions: availability of research outcomes to internal and external scrutiny, introduction of transparent evaluation/appraisal systems for assessing professional performance, establishment of open and fair, transparent and non-discriminatory recruitment procedures, transparency in allotting research funds, responsibility of academic employers for providing employees with possibilities for professional development, stimulating mobility and recognizing it as an asset while employing, evaluating or funding researchers, possibility of appeal in all matters pertaining to employment and funding, availability of an impartial ombudsman, capable of providing assistance in resolving work-related conflicts.
We consider that Polish universities offer inadequate opportunities of professional development, especially for junior staff members, and suffer from bad management. Not much has changed in this respect since the communist times, with career requirements and universities having been left practically unchanged. An opportunity for change arose when Polish Parliament began work on a new Higher Education Bill, drafted by rectors of Polish universities. We appealed to Members of Parliament and academic officials to include at least the most essential principles of the Charter and Code in the new law. Alas, our appeals were largely ignored, and a representative of the ministry of research informed us that the Charter and Code is only a recommendation, hence Poland is not legally obliged to implement and respect its provisions. The same opinion was repeated during parliamentary debates. The new law, adopted on 27 July 2005, abolished even the requirement that new university teachers be employed in open and competitive recruitment procedures, which was contained in the old Higher Education Act of 12 September 1990. This is even more disappointing since the authors of the bill were current and former members of the Polish Rectors’ Conference. To the best of our knowledge, the Conference has never mooted the possibility of implementing the Charter and Code. Therefore, we consider representatives of the ‘old guard’, whose research careers were made mostly in communist Poland, to be the most significant obstacle in implementing the Charter and Code in Poland (see also: C. Wójcik Eastern Europe: progress stifled by the old guard http://www.naukowcy.republika.pl/progress.html).