Privatization and de-privatization: from expansion (1990–2005) to contraction (2006–2025) of the Polish higher education system

Marek Kwiek


The paper analyzes the changing public-private dynamics in higher education in Poland in 1990-2016 and beyond, focusing on the processes of internal and external de-privatization of the system. De-privatization of higher education – viewed also as its republicization – is caused by declining demographics and may lead to the demise of the largely demand-absorbing private higher education. Poland is shown as moving against the two powerful global trends related to privatization: private sector growth and increasing reliance on cost-sharing. Data related to funding and provision in 1990-2005 (expansion) and 2006 and beyond (contraction) are analyzed in detail, and policy implications of ongoing and expected changes are discussed.


privatization; de-privatization; Poland; universities; demographic pressures; private sector; public/private dynamics; universal higher education; postcommunist transformations

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