Enabling local academic excellence to flourish in Polish regions

The excellent teaching facilities at Opole University’s newly renovated faculty of chemistry building have given the institution a growing reputation for excellence and provided new opportunities for the region’s next generation of budding chemists.

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Opole University’s refurbished faculty of chemistry  © Opole University Opole University’s refurbished faculty of chemistry © Opole University

" Opole is situated in a region of Poland with one of the highest emigration rates. Young people leave for Western Europe, and neighbouring, better-developed regions – Lower and Upper Silesia with bigger cities, which offer better education and employment perspectives. Creating a high quality teaching and research unit in Opole has helped to reduce this migration and keep at least some young people interested in chemistry in our region and limit demographic problems. "

Dr Hubert Wojtasek, faculty of chemistry, Opole University

The ERDF-funded ‘Conversion of the building of the Faculty of Chemistry of the Opole University’ project has been important not just for staff and students, but also for the local community. Opole University is the only higher education institution in the region that teaches chemistry.

Without a major upgrade, students eager to follow a career in this field would have had to head off elsewhere.

Moving with the times

Built in 1978, the original faculty building had never been renovated, which is why a complete overhaul was required.

Most internal walls and all service installations were replaced in order to adapt the building to the demands of teaching and research in the 21st century, with laboratories equipped with modern instruments. The new 4 000 m2 faculty building now includes more than 50 teaching and research laboratories.

Promoting interest in science

A key benefit of the new laboratories is that they have enabled the faculty to better promote chemistry and support science education in local schools. In the past two years alone, some 8 000 students - mostly from primary and junior high schools - have had the chance to experience science in the faculty’s new facilities. New specialities, such as the chemistry of modern materials, can also now be taught.

Fostering academic excellence

The project has also boosted the institution’s research capabilities and increased the prestige of the chemistry faculty. An evaluation of research quality carried out by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education in 2013 led to the faculty being promoted from category B to category A.

In the same year, the faculty obtained the right to grant habilitation (D.Sc.) degrees in chemistry – the highest academic degree available in Poland. As a consequence of this decision, the faculty began doctoral studies in chemistry in 2014, which have already attracted 40 students who might otherwise have chosen Wrocław and Katowice, the biggest cities in the neighbouring regions.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Conversion of the building of the Faculty of Chemistry of the Opole University” is EUR 3 500 000 (PLN 14 379 035), with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 900 000 (PLN 11 861 772) through the “Opolskie Voivodeship” Operational Programme for the 2007- 2013 programming period.

Draft date

05/08/2015