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The Centenary of the Warsaw School of Economics

The school dates back to 1906. At that time, owing to limited liberalisation of social life under Russian rule, August Zieliński Private Trade Courses for Men were established. They served as a higher school of economics, which was confirmed in 1915 by the permit of the German occupying forces to use the name of the High School of Economics (Wyższa Szkoła Handlowa - WSH). After Poland had regained independence, the High School of Economics became a separate legal entity and, in 1924, it acquired the rights of an academic school. The Senate, the school's owner, was established and Bolesław Miklaszewski became a Rector. Following the model of foreign universities, not only had Miklaszewski developed modern academic syllabuses and selected competent academic staff, but he also established the campus in Rakowiecka street.

In 1933, it was renamed the Warsaw School of Economics (Szkoła Główna Handlowa - SGH), which pointed to its central position in the Polish economic education. The school, which had abandoned a departamental structure, offered eight study majors and was entitled to confer MA, PhD and post-PhD degrees in economics. Its lecturers included, inter alia, Ludwik Krzywicki, Jan Lewiński, Edward Lipiński, Stefan Starzyński, Stanisław Wojciechowski and Władysław Zawadzki.

More than 1700 graduate diplomas and more than 500 MA degrees were awarded by 1939. The school graduates included political and economic activists (Edward Drożniak, Józef Poniatowski and Adam Rapacki), scientists (Jan Drewnowski, Stanisław Skrzywan, and Jan Wiśniewski) and people engaged in cultural and artistic activities (Jan Dobraczyński, Stanisław Dygat, and Kazimierz Rudzki).

World War II did not interrupt the activities of the Warsaw School of Economics, which, formally as a vocational secondary school, continued to deliver lectures at an academic level. Its staff and students had their role in the Polish underground state and took part in the Warsaw Uprising.

The school resumed its activities already in February 1945. At first, despite progressing systemic changes, it derived from the interwar tradition. 1949 saw radical changes as the political decisions were made to nationalise the Warsaw School of Economics. Its name was changed to the Central School of Planning and Statistics (Szkoła Główna Planowania i Statystyki - SGPiS) and its educational and research programme was adjusted to the needs of the centrally planned economy. A new departamental organisational structure corresponded to the narrow, industry-based economic education.

As of late 1950s, the process of improving the scientific and educational level of the Central School of Planning and Statistics was launched. The world economic achievements were more pronouncedly referred to, teaching of foreign languages was expanded, international liaisons were developed, and teaching techniques were modernised. The School's reputation was supported by its professors, including Andrzej Grodek, Michał Kalecki, Edward Lipiński, Jerzy Loth, Józef Sołdaczuk, and Aleksy Wakar. Graduates from the School were present in Poland's economic and political structures and participated in the works of international organisations and businesses. The holders of diplomas awarded by the Central School of Planning and Statistics include, inter alia, Leszek Balcerowicz, Henryka Bochniarz, Igor Chałupiec, Danuta Hubner, Krzysztof Kalicki, Marek Borowski, Grzegorz Kołodko, Bogusław Kott, Andrzej Podsiadło, Andrzej Olechowski, Józef Oleksy, Jerzy Osiatyński, Sławomir Sikora, and Dariusz Rosati.

In 1989, the political breakthrough in Poland facilitated the launch of a radical structural and programme reform. In 1991, the School was renamed to its pre-war name - the Warsaw School of Economics, but it retained its comprehensive profile of an economic university that conforms to the world standards. In 1993, the departments were abolished as a result of structural changes. The chairs and institutes at the Warsaw School of Economics were grouped into the following Collegia: the Collegium of Economic Analysis, the Collegium of Socio-Economic Policy, the Collegium of World Economy, the Collegium of Business Administration and the Collegium of Management and Finance. The students were provided with the ability to choose the following study majors, which conform to those offered at western universities: Economics, Finance and Banking, Public Economy, Quantitative Methods in Economics and Information Systems, International Relations as well as Management and Marketing.

In the 1990s, the school applied general recruitment. The first 3 semesters (Basic Studies) were common for all students, who had an opportunity to choose their lecturers. Semesters 4-10 (Diploma Studies) were marked by a great freedom in the choice of subjects which determined the field of studies. The students can be awarded BA or MA degrees. The offer concerning post-graduate, PhD and MBA studies has been widely expanded. WSE joined the group of the best schools of management in Europe, associated within the Community of European Management Schools.

The public image of the School has changed for the better. The interest of young people in studying at the Warsaw School of Economics has suddenly increased and the number of students has neared a record level of 12,000. Apart from the reforms implemented in the School, the process was triggered by the new outlook for the economists that was brought about by the systemic transformation. Its economic aspect was related to the concepts as well as bold and resolute actions of the School's graduate and academic teacher - Leszek Balcerowicz.

Poland's accession to the European Union has forced, inter alia, changes in the higher education system. According to the new regulations, as of the academic year 2006/2007 the Warsaw School of Economics obligatorily offers education at the BA, MA and PhD levels at full-time and extramural courses. It has reorganised course syllabuses accordingly, but retained the wide selection of lectures and lecturers.

The ranking of universities announced in spring 2006 confirmed a leading position of the Warsaw School of Economics not only among the schools of economics but also in the entire academic world of Poland. The Warsaw School of Economics ranked fourth and was preceded by the University of Warsaw, the Jagiellonian University, and the Warsaw University of Technology. At the list of economic universities, it was a way ahead of state-owned universities of economics and private colleges.

Prof. Janusz Kaliński,
Warsaw School of Economics Chairman of the Organisational Committee of the Centenary of the Warsaw School of Economics