A brief history of the WSEI

14 year anniversary - brief history
by Mrs Teresa Bogacka, Chancellor of the WSEI

University of Economics and Innovation in Lublin (WSEI) was established on the strength of the permission of the Minister of Education and Sport of 24th October 2000. WSEI is registered in the register of vocational higher education institutions in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education under the number 57. The founder of the University is Polish Foundation of the Opportunities Industrialization Centers "OIC Poland", which is the private non-governmental organisation, based in Lublin. The Foundation was established in 1991 on initiative of members of the local society, who were interested in stimulating socio-economic development of Lublin Region.

The mission of WSEI is to prepare the highly qualified professionals, who will be able to meet European standards and who then reinforce the human resources potential and enhance the capacity of local government institutions in terms of public finance management, strategic planning or absorption and management of EU funds. In the context of economic development of the region those mentioned areas of activities are the key challenges that the public and private sector is to face in the next few years.

Mrs Teresa Bogacka: The idea of independent, creative private education institution was born out in August 1999, after undertaking the duties of the President of the Board of "OIC Poland" Foundation. That idea was strongly supported by Mr Stanisław Węglarz – the founder and Chairman of the Board of "OIC Poland" Foundation - the body running the university. The conception of the modern education institution was created and developed by my co-workers from Lublin Business School. When bringing that goal into life I benefited from 9 years' of professional experience derived from running the Lublin Business School and other business-related skills gained in international institutions. Our creative, competence-based team was well prepared to take up new challenges and face arising difficulties. In context of new investment opportunities, it was a difficult time due to deep economic recession, high unemployment rate and social distrust and dissatisfaction with changes in general.

Our effort in setting up a private university was strongly supported by the then Vice Minister of Science and Higher Education Prof. Jerzy Zdrada. As a result of undertaken actions I received the permission of the Minister to set up the non-public higher education institution of economic profile, based in Lublin under the name "University of Economics and Innovation in Lublin". A great many people didn't believe my visions to come true about the fully professional university, due to the fact that many problems that had arisen from the very beginning: lack of financial resources, administrative facilities equipment and others. Therefore, many people of academic background did not want to associate with us on permanent basis.

At that time there were existing six higher education institutions in Lublin, five public ones and one non-public institution, WSEI was the seventh.

The Board of Directors of "OIC Poland" appointed Prof. Mirosław Żak from Krakow at the position of Rector of WSEI and Michał Jarmuł, PhD at the position of Vice-Rector of WSEI. The latter one put a significant contribution to create the structures of our university and currently occupies the post of Chairman of the Board of "OIC Poland" Foundation.

WSEI started its educational activity in the academic year 2001/2002. Initially the lectures were conducted in the building taken over from the bankrupt's estate of Daewoo Motor Poland Ltd. located at the address: 7/9 Mełgiewska Street, Lublin.

The first academic year 2001/2002 started with 400 students and 5 specializations on the educational offer: economics of small and medium enterprise, real estate services, finance & regional development, computer sciences & business and public administration. At present, the number of 1st and 2nd degree students amounts to 9 000 and 11 000 including postgraduate students. The school building has been expanded with a new wing. Our room facilities have increased approx. 9 times when compared to the first year of the activity, reaching the surface area 8 000 sq. m. The total area, inc. modern academic library is used for didactic purposes.

The first graduates left our university in June 2004, currently we have 6 767 graduates.

We can be proud of our graduates, who occupy prestigious administrative positions and managerial posts in public service institutions e.g. hospitals, courts, police, tax offices and in a wide range of private sector companies too. Our academic staff educate people whose skills and level of education meet the requirements of the labour market. The principle of compatibility between educational process and economic practice allows our graduates not only to find an attractive job, but also to establish their own thriving companies or modernise the existing ones.

The students leaving our University are open-minded and well - prepared to take up new initiatives aimed at supporting poor and underdeveloped regions to minimise the differences and create equal opportunities for all regions of EU.

We owe our success mainly to a high level of education, which combines academic knowledge with a close relationship and practice of socio-economic life, which is very rare among higher schools. The high level of educational process is maintained by a diligently selected didactic staff with proper academic degrees and necessary academic experience. A great part of the staff has also significant practical experience derived from their non-academic activity. Such an excellent team is a guarantee of a high level of education relating to economic realities of our region, meeting the EU requirements.

It is worth mentioning that our educational offer is constantly modified to match up the demands of the labour market, which is expressed by creating new programmes and specialties.

At present, the didactic staff is a team of 122 people employed on contract agreement, and for the 65 of them it is the main workplace, 68 of them work as an administrative staff and over 200 remaining didactic personnel employed based on long-term specific-tasks contracts. Overall number of WSEI and "OIC Poland" staff amounts approx. 450 people.

WSEI maintains academic relations with a few higher education institutions, e.g. Lublin University of Technology, Medical University of Lublin, University of Life Sciences in Lublin. Moreover, our University actively cooperates with local educational and business environment sector, of which with most important companies and local government institutions for South-East Poland.

At present time, WSEI together with "OIC Poland" Foundation are running 59 projects with the overall amount of PLN 157 752. Those projects are orientated towards diverse social groups and provide solutions to specific social problems.

Implementation of EU founded projects enable to strengthen relations with schools at all levels, from primary schools to higher education institutions. Those programmes, aimed at supporting of education sector, are of significant importance for us because they provide direct solutions for specific problems, such as: unequal access to educational opportunities, overcoming barriers of higher education, widening opportunities to develop occupational skills suited to labour market needs. Under the framework of projects for schools support we established and developed cooperation with 161 educational units.

One of the most important ventures among the project activities is "School of Key Competences. Development Programme - upgrading of skills by pupils from Eastern, Central and South – West Poland".

The mentioned support programme covered in total 9000 pupils from 90 specialized lower secondary schools in 4 voivodships. The youth has been offered an array of activities with the view to help them recognize their occupational predispositions. The individual diagnosis carried out among pupils enabled to map their abilities and create appropriate training plan. The youth could develop their knowledge with regards to entrepreneurship, mathematics, information technology, foreign languages through attending optional classes or during vocational summer camps. The young people have been acquainted with the running of the local businesses, they could also acquire practical knowledge how to shape their own career path in future. In the long-term well educated society in the long-term will have a positive impact on further socio-economic development of the region.

After 10 year life, the university has 11 degree programmes on its offer in academic year 2010/2011, of which 4 faculties with undergraduate and graduate programmes, uniformed studies at master's level in Psychology and 3 faculties of engineering profile. At present we are awaiting the authorization of Ministry of Science and Higher Education to run the doctoral studies at the Faculty of Psychology.

In 2010 year, thanks to invaluable support of Minister Krzysztof Hetman, WSEI has obtained the 17 mln worth grant for laboratories of transport and computer sciences. From now on, our didactic infrastructure in terms of modernity will be the best one in the Lublin Region. The Board of Lublin Voivodship with the Marshal Krzysztof Grabczuk put a significant contribution to our success trough financial support, for which I would like to give him my thanks. New building facilities are necessary for further development of education activity as well as carrying out cutting-edge research activity. Transfer of knowledge and innovation between business units, public institutions and academic bodies plays a crucial role, particularly in regional context. As one of the leading institutions in educational market, WSEI understands the value it brings to the city and the region; positioning itself as an "enterprise university" and embedding innovation and creativity in the heart of all its activities. By embracing fully its social and economic responsibilities WSEI demonstrates the key role universities play in leading the development of the region. At the core of our enterprise-led approach there is the development of the enterprise culture, which is focused on providing opportunities for students to fully engage with business, the community and the public sector.

What is most striking about us, creating an opportunity for real growth, are "innovations", which give us an opportunity to build upon an already excellent reputation for teaching and working closely with business and community groups. The key word "innovation" is not only in the name of our University, but modern technologies are visible in the methods of teaching, new specialties constantly adapted to labour market needs and resistant to economic changes. The "innovative' methods apply to the entire education process through implementation of pilot projects and know-how transfer in areas of overcoming economical and social barriers and creating new opportunities for young people. WSEI has taken on the leadership role in promoting and enhancing entrepreneurial skills of students, harnessing talents, creating incubators for new enterprising businesses. Innovations are our main asset, or which is a real value of us.

A vision of such a university has accompanied us from the very beginning in recent years The decision to establish an institution of higher education, made by late Mr Stanisław Węglarz was not an easy one, but the intellectual potential of our team and enormous willingness to use our knowledge and experience in benefit of regional development confirmed us in the belief of success.

In 2010 WSEI has celebrated its 10th anniversary together with "OIC Poland" Foundation - its founding body, which celebrated its 20th anniversary at the same time. Both institutions rank the highest positions in educational market of South - East Poland. The university of Economics and Innovation in Lublin enjoys a good reputation and has stabilized a leadership position among the non-public higher institutions in the region. An excellent evidence of that statement is the number and the total value of projects financed from EU resources aimed at human potential development not only in regional dimension but also on national level.

It is worth mentioning that under the framework of Human Capital Operational programme for years 2007-2013 our University has already acquired from European Social Fund the total amount of PLN 160 mln. Our projects cover 9 voivodships and aim at people of all social and occupational backgrounds. The core activities are focused on education process of children and youth, through vocational guidance, initiation and support of entrepreneurial activities, creating changes that have a significant impact on socio-economic development in the region.

Our staff are widely acknowledged experts in the field of acquisition and management of EU funds orientated towards implementing changes in the following thematic areas: economy, education, environment protection, entrepreneurship, innovations (both in economical and social dimension).

We are proud of our achievements to date, but our main asset are the young people, who decided to study at our university to widen their job opportunities in the future.

Just a few figures to confirm my words:

in 2001-2010 years 7751 students graduated from our university;in academic year 2010/2011 the number of 3 328 students enrolled on the courses;in academic year 2010/2011 the total number of students reached over 10 500 students;the total number of postgraduate studies amounts to approx. 10 000 people; at present, we have 1459 participants of postgraduate programmes.

I strongly believe that educational activity of our University will bring an immense impact on the development of career opportunities for our students for the benefit of Lublin Region. I am very proud of the position that WSEI has achieved over the years. I cannot think about those achievements without mentioning the people who contributed to create its structures from the beginning and are doing it nowadays.

Over 14 years we carry out our responsibilities with great pride


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