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Lancaster University’s Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA) was the venue for several key Polish dignitaries on Friday Week 6. Among them were Poland’s Ambassador to the UK, Witold Sobków, and the current Minister for Finance in the Polish Government, Mateusz Szczurek. They were among hundreds of delegates to be hosted by LICA, the venue for the Eighth Congress of Polish Student Societies in the UK. The Congress is a meeting of all the Polish Societies from universities across the country, and aims to bring together Polish students to discuss current matters pertinent to Polish politics, business, economics, culture and education.
Dr Szczurek, an economist by profession who was named as European Finance Minister of the Year by The Banker magazine in January, gave a talk in praise of the UK’s higher education system. He, along with several other key speakers of the Congress, obtained his postgraduate qualifications in the UK having already studied in Poland. “This event is a way to show current students where their futures might lie,” he said. “It is a reminder of the value the UK education system brings to the world, and Poland in particular.” It has been estimated that around £100 million has been paid out over previous years to over 20,000 Polish students in an effort to entice them into studying in the UK.
The Congress is equally known for its social dimension of networking and serving as a forum for exchanging experiences and ideas for the future development of Polish student societies in the UK. Dr Szczurek further added that “there are a number of reasons why events like this are important. They allow the Polish community to get together to see how many of them there are in UK universities. It gives opportunities for Polish communities to meet other people from Poland and also to see examples of potential career opportunities.”
Dr Szczurek also gave a keynote speech at the Congress regarding current concerns over the Euro, in particular the rise of British Euro-scepticism and the possibility of the UK leaving the EU. Although he stated that the greater concern would at first be on the immediate political impacts of Britain’s cessation, he believed there would be worry in Poland about the loss of a fellow non-Eurozone EU member. He also stressed the economic problems that Britain may face were it to opt out due to the huge amount of British firms located throughout Europe, and urged caution to any future British government on the matter.