The FPS Foundation (Polish Student Support Fund) is a fully independent organisation with nationwide reach which operates various activities (such as civic oversight, education, research, information campaigns).
The Foundation's status enables it to conduct unpaid mission-related activity, paid mission-related activity and economic activity.
The Foundation is the country's leader in three areas:
- civil monitoring of universities and educational institutions
- promoting scientific research among students and PhD students
- analysis of the conditions of higher education from the students' and PhD students' perspective
History of the Foundation
The FPS Foundation was established on February 4, 2008 as a result of transformation of another Warsaw foundation – Optimi Elaturi (1994-2008). The most important, longtime projects of Optimi Elaturi were: ''Euroenthusiast''- a scholarship programme for Polish students undertaking study abroad; subsidy programme ''Egida'' for students' scientific associations and other students' groups, magazines ''Gazeta Studencka'' and ''Gazeta dla Maturzystów'', the traineeship programme ''Praktyczna Szkoła Dziennikarstwa''.
The moment of changing the Foundation's name to The FPS Foundation was also the beginning of the nationwide activity and also the expansion of its profiles of activity.
Between 2008-2013 the Foundation coorganized big, nationwide information campaigns (e.g. ''Od kiedy euro w Polsce?'', ''Nie zagłosujesz, nie będziesz mógł narzekać'') or organised them alone (e.g. ''Kto wygrywa na prywatyzacji?'', ''O prawach studenta na pierwszym roku studiów'', ''Otwarte Akademickie Mistrzostwa Polski Inwestorów''). The Foundation also conducted four editions of the contest for essays concerning desired solutions to higher education (''Konfrontacje – Akademickie Mistrzostwa Polski Autorów Tekstów''), started monitoring universities' internal regulations (the first two editions of ''Watchdog.edu.pl'' programme) and promoted academic movement among students and PhD students (the ''StRuNa'' programme).
The FPS' campaign ''Kto wygrywa na prywatyzacji?'' was granted Award of the Minister of Treasury for the best project in economics education realized in 2010. The programmes ''StRuNa'' and ''Konfrontacje'' took 1st and 3rd place respectively among the highest ranked projects in the Competition of the Minister of Science and Higher education called ''Organizowanie i animowanie działań na rzecz środowiska akademickiego''.
Since 2013 the main area of the Foundation's activity is monitoring the public institutions and also observing the way in which public money (which comes from government budget) is being spent. The biggest realised projects in civil control, so far, are:
''Monitoring of public support for doctoral students and protection of their rights in contracts'',
''Detecting and removing unwanted barriers for access to MA and PhD studies'',
''Monitoring of the open competitions for academics’ employment''.
The Foundation's activity goes far beyond the targets, which suggest the full name of the Foundation ( Polish Student Support Fund). The beneficiaries of the Foundation's activities are, except for students, PhD students, young people entering the market, people and institutions cofinancing studies.
The mission, statements and the Founadtion's principals
The foundation's mission is:
- protection of students' and PhD students' rights
- creation of condtition for exceptionally gifted young researchers
- education of citizens, taxpayers and consumers aware of their rights
- monitoring the way in which public money dedicated for the development of young people, science and higher education is being spent.
In its activity, the Foundation uses watchwords which emphasize the most important foundation's aims:
''Let’s defend the public welfare! '', ''Higher level of civic participation'', ''Independent initiatives for students and PhD candidates'', ''Civic monitoring of science and education in public institutions'', ''We help talented and ambitious people'', ''We provide a broader view'', ''We provide support on legal issues inside and outside the university for free'', ''The ambitious side of the studies''.
The Foundation has its own set of standards, which are guidelines for realisation of scientific and educational projects. The FPS is based on unique tools and operating methods. The Foundation wants its projects to be examples for other entities, also for those which operate outside the academic community. Each of the Foundation's projects - regardless of the research, eduactional or popularisational results- must end with developing a piece of work, which has a practical usage like a report, a folder, a book, an electronic database, applications, webstites, instructional films or a radio broadcast. The FPS does not execute projects, which are of integrative, recreational, jubile nature and those which promote the entity, not the activity content.
The Foundation's unique resources
The FPS Foundation, as the only one in Poland, catalogues all active students' and PhD students' association groups (more than 6.5 entities). It mediates between them and organises a big, nationwide contest for the best projects (so far, there has been 5 editions of the contest, and each comprised of at least five categories).
The FPS publishes its own journal - ''StRuNa – Biuletyn Młodych Naukowców'' (in an electronic and printed version), book publications (10 in the last 5 years) and handbooks or information folders.
The FPS has extensive experience in acquiring public information. The disputes between the Founadtion and institutions precluding access to necessary resource materials resulted in over 50 favourable decisions made by the Voivodeship administrative courts.
The FPS Foundation is the most important organiser of civil supervisory actions over academic institutions.Thanks to actions taken by the Founadtion, the realisation of statutory duties of more than 180 universities have been investigated.
statutory duties was investigated. Recomendations of the Fundation contributed to the change of over hundred of internal legal acts that had been valid in Polish higher education facilities.
The FPS has a valuable network of contacts among organisations which deal with social oversight. The Foundation cooperates with the biggest organisations of this kind, like The Stefan Batory Foundation or Citizens Network Watchdog Poland. The Foundation is in constant touch also with organisations in other European countries (the result of this collaboration was humanitarian aid for internal refugees in Ukraine).
The FPS has a varied and highly qualified team of co-workers. It is created by titled law, economy, sociology, journalism and political science lecturers from the biggest academic centres in Poland; ex-workers and ex-coworkers of institutions responsible for representing particular groups' interests among the academic community and responsible for monitoring the actions taken by a university.
The Foundation serves as a depositary (the institution responsible for interpreting the provisions, public presentation, promoting the content and the proper way of introducing changes) in reference to good practice in terms of organisation and student apprenticeship (so called Code of Good Students' Apprenticeship).
The Foundation promotes the idea of civic control, teaches the staff for watchdogs and prepares the citizens to monitor the activity of public institutions by themselves (the workshop programme ''Akademia Watchdog''). The Foundation runs several websites and three social network profiles, where watchdog activities, the situation of higher education and the theoretical basis of the watchdog activity are being described.
The people representing the Foundation
Robert Pawłowski – Chairman of The FPS Foundation's Board of Directors
Dariusz Bednarczyk – Chairman of The FPS Foundation's Council
Tomasz Lewiński – The Programming Director of The FPS Foundation