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Gdynia Maritime University Experience in View of the 21st Century Challenges

Submitted by on 28 Mar 2013 – 14:35

By Janusz Mindykowski, Vice-President for Research and International Co-operation, Gdynia Maritime University

Today’s and tomorrow’s challenges facing maritime universities

Maritime education is based on full implementation of the STCW 1978 as amended in the 2010 Convention in the teaching and training programs of the Universities. Introduction of some new simulators and several selectively dedicated laboratories is a must for modern training and this goes along with the adoption of the maritime specializations and programs to the International (European) and National Qualifications Framework. Flexible adoption of programs and creation of the new specializations is a response to the needs of global and local labour market.

Research advances on marine transport

The main focus of the recently conducted and quickly developed research is concentrated on the implementation of new advanced technologies, as well as effective and reliable technical and organizational solutions. The most important projects are dedicated to and implemented in numerous areas, but their key points are related to the highest values for the world marine community today – safety, quality and environmental friendliness. The priorities of the scientific areas result from the ”hot topics” in international co-operation (e.g. the 7th European Framework Programme) as well as the expectations and challenges formulated by the industry. They cover, among others, such directions as: information and communication, technologies, energy, environment, transport, food, agriculture and fisheries, and biotechnology.

The Gdynia Maritime University – a maritime university on the Baltic Sea coast

Gdynia Maritime University (GMU), established in 1920, is a state technical higher education institution offering engineer and master’s degrees for prospective merchant marine officers, highly qualified specialists in ship and port operators, transport management systems and other professionals for maritime industries – up to national, European and world standards of education. It is the largest state school of higher maritime education in Poland and one of the largest in Europe.

At present the academic programs are organized into four faculties constituting the basic scientific–educational units: the Faculty of Navigation, the Faculty of Marine Engineering, the Faculty of Marine Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Entrepreneurship and Quality Science. The faculties are composed of departments that conduct research and educational activities within their profiles of studies.

In May 2012, Gdynia Maritime University employed 793 persons, including 334 scientists and academic teachers (in which: 74      full and associate professors, 150 assistant professors, 110 lecturers and assistants) and 459 persons as technical, administration, service personnel and training ships’ crews.

The total number of full-time and part-time students is over 6,600 students in 35 specializations. Officer qualification and specialist training courses realized in the Officer Training Centre of Gdynia Maritime University is provided for over 6,000 ratings and officers (yearly) in 43 specializations. Post-graduate studies are delivered for over 300 students in 12 specializations.

The programs of studies offered by Gdynia Maritime University satisfy both Polish educational standards provided by the Ministry Science and Higher of Education and also the requirements of the International Maritime Organization. The accreditation awarded by the IMO covers the field of training for shipboard deck, engineer and electrical-automation officers in compliance with the STCW Convention: Operational and Management levels.

The University is assessed and found to be in accordance with the Quality Management System – ISO 9001: 2008 in the scope of education, conducting research works according to Polish and international requirements.

The State Accreditation Committee has awarded Gdynia Maritime University with accreditation for the following fields of studies: navigation, transport, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics and telecommunication, management, commodity science.

The GMU is an active member of international organisations, e.g. European University Association (EUA), International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU), International Maritime Organization (IMO). An active co-operation with a large number of foreign partners is the natural result of the University’s character.

The traditional lecture halls are organized in modern multimedia auditoria. Educational facilities include several specialised laboratories, such as satellite navigation systems (GPS), radio-communication systems (GMDSS), a planetarium, a ship’s power plant simulator (ER-SIM), a radar simulator (ARPA), fire-fighting training ground and instrumental analysis workshop.

The University is the owner of two training ships – the training vessel “Horyzont II” equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities, and tall ship “Dar Młodzieży”, pride of the  University. During her service she has been immensely popular among sailors from all over the world.

Gdynia Maritime University Experience to the 21st Century Challenges

The GMU experience in building of a modern base for maritime education results from  its :

-       contribution in the modification processes of the IMO STCW 78/2010 Convention,

-       adoption of programs to the National and European Qualifications Framework procedures,

-       development of research on selected purposes addressed to new technological and organizational solutions friendly for users and the environment.

The GMU contribution in the modification of processes of the IMO STCW 781/2010 Convention

The legislative way and a role of GMU in the comprehensive review of the IMO STCW Convention and STCW Code started with the Polish activities on ECDIS (Electronic-Chart Display and Information Systems). The university has performed standards for ECDIS in 1995, followed by deliverance of IMO Model Course on Operational Use of ECDIS (2000), Interim Guidance on Training in the Use of ECDIS (2001), IAMU Model Course on ECDIS (2004), Performance Standards for ECDIS (2006), an Operational Handbook on ECDIS (2009), the STCW Convention in Manila (2010) and IMO Model Course on Operational Use of ECDIS (2012).

The Polish activities on ETO (Electro-Technical Officers) are also performed by the GMU and refer to the definition and mandatory requirements for certification of Electro-Technical Officer and Senior Electro-Technical Officer (Poland, France, United Kingdom, Bulgaria – 2007), consolidation of the requirements for electro-technical officers at operation and management levels (Poland, France, United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Iran – 2009), the decision to include in the STCW Convention requirements for electro-technical officers at operation level and electro-technical ratings at support level (2010), the STCW Convention, Manila (2010), IMO Model Course Draft for Electro-Technical Officers (2012).

Adoption of programs into the National Qualifications Framework procedures

The National Framework of Qualifications for higher education is – generally speaking – an internationally well understood description of qualifications gained in a higher education system in a respective country. As a result of work on the National Framework of Qualifications /NFQ/ for higher education in Poland, the conclusion was reached that: the effects of education are described in categories of knowledge, skills and social competences and that the students gain the qualifications at three tiers and two profiles (a general profile and a practical profile).

Three underlined tiers of qualifications correspond with:

- obtaining – as a result of completing the tier one education – a title of Bachelor, Engineer or equivalent,

- obtaining – as a result of completing the tier two education – a title of Master of Science, Master of Science in Engineering or equivalent,

- obtaining a title Doctor of Philosophy.

In Poland, the implementation of National Framework of Qualifications for higher education and life-long learning have been designed to be adequate to the European frames’ levels:

  • levels of the National Framework of Qualifications for higher education correspond with three tiers (Bachelor, Master, Doctor) specified in European Framework of Qualifications for higher education, shaped as a result of the Bologna Process,
  • levels of the Polish Qualifications Framework correspond with eight tiers specified in European Framework of Qualifications, defined in Recommendation of European Parliament and    European Union Board,
  • the correspondence of the National Framework of Qualifications with the European Framework, ensure transparency in the system of higher education in Poland and is a base of compatibility of qualifications (diplomas) obtained in Polish universities with the qualifications gained in other countries.

A final effect is the expected elimination, or at least reduction of the problems with recognition of education obtained in Poland, either in the case of continuation of education abroad or international job market activity.

Development of research addressed to new technological and organizational solutions friendly for users and environment

The Navigation Faculty lead the multi-dimensional scientific and research activities concerning the generally conceived concept of safety in navigation with the use of terrestrial, celestial and radio-navigation. In the case of the Marine Engineering Faculty, the research works are connected with combustion of heavy fuels in ship engines with regard to environmental protection issues, operation and diagnostics of power systems, including electrical power plant. Improvement of the processes of generation, distribution and consumption of electrical energy based on new methods of control and electronic power converters application; automation of the processes of ship movement control are the focus for the Marine Electrical Engineering Faculty. The Entrepreneurship and Quality Science Faculty conducts the research on techniques of analysis, assessment and optimization of software reliability; applications of the information technology in supporting the decision making processes, the use of new instrumental methods to evaluate quality of food products and the method of eco-balance to evaluate the environmental impact.

Final remarks

Today and tomorrow challenges facing the maritime universities concern two aspects – maritime education and research advances. The maritime education should comply with the requirements of IMO conventions. First of all the full implementation of the STCW 1978 as amended in a 2010 Convention reflected in teaching and training programs is necessary. The maritime Universities should be open for the flexible adoption of programs and the creation of the new specializations in response to the needs of global or local labour markets. Maritime education requires the compatibility with the National and International Framework of Qualifications for easy recognition in the case of the continuation of education aboard or international job market activity.

The present and future research priorities in maritime universities are concentrated on, but not limited to, the well defined areas like information and communication technologies, energy (resources, safety and effectiveness), environment (influence on our life, changes, protection), transport (sea transport, marine technology), food, agriculture and fisheries, biotechnology (product quality aspects, new possibilities of implementation). But a key point of the research is oriented to the highest values of the world marine community today: It means safety, quality and environmental friendliness.