Language Departments, Labs, „Special units” and „Islands”. The Institutional Perspective in the Study of foreign-born academics

Kamil Łuczaj


The main purpose of this paper is to describe the specificity of Polish academic institutions that employ foreign-born scholars. The empirical material comes from a two-year research project, involving 100 qualitative in-depth interviews with “international” employees and additional 20 with their Polish colleagues, mainly supervisors. The study demonstrated that the organizational units of universities and research institutes employing foreign-born scholars could be divided into four basic types: language departments, “special units” (focused on international cooperation or advanced studies), laboratories, and the “islands.” An additional category is composed of the centers where the academic staff shortage is a serious problem, but this category, unlike the others, is likely to be seriously affected by the ongoing higher education reform. The article adopts a neo-institutional perspective, which enables to analyze these types of units in terms of institutional work (including construction of normative networks, defining, vesting), done by the foreign-born employees.


universities in Poland; academic system; highly-skilled migrants; institutional work

Full Text:

PDF (Polish)