On 23rd and 24th November, we held the seventh edition of our flagship event – the International Conference “Leaders of University Management LUMEN 2021”. During two days of the event, several high quality discussion panels and presentations were delivered live via a dedicated online platform. The Conference that attracted over 1,200 participants was organized by PCG Academia, Polish Rectors Foundation and Times Higher Education.

The official inauguration of the conference was carried out by Prof. Łukasz Sułkowski – President of the Board of PCG Polska, responsible for supervising the activities of PCG Academia and LIBRUS on behalf of their owner, American consulting and technology company – Public Consulting Group from Boston. The second speaker was the Prof. Arkadiusz Mężyk, the President of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (CRASP). The inaugural part of LUMEN conference was concluded by Prof. Jerzy Woźnicki, the President of Polish Rectors Foundation and the Institute of Knowledge Society.

The Keynote Speech was delivered by Mr. Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at Times Higher Education (THE), the UK institution creating the two most recognized international university rankings: THE World University Rankings and THE Impact Rankings. The speech concerned the future role of universities in the post-pandemic era.

The first panel, devoted to financial perspective for higher education institutions, enjoyed exceptional interest on the part of the LUMEN 2021 participants due to the current economic situation in the country. The discussion was chaired by Prof. Jerzy Woźnicki, the President and co-founder of Polish Rectors Foundation, who was accompanied by Mr. Wojciech Murdzek, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education and Science, Mr. Sebastian Skuza, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Finance, Prof. Zbigniew Marciniak, the Chairman of the Main Council of Science and Higher Education, and Prof. Stanisław Mazur, representing CRASP. The guests discussed specific instruments for financing HEIs, developed as part of the upcoming European Union’s financial perspective and the National Recovery Plan.

The second panel, moderated by Prof. Łukasz Sułkowski, was devoted to the topic of the upcoming evaluation of the scientific activities of HEIs in Poland. To this session, the organizers invited representatives of two top-ranked Polish research universities – Prof. Piotr Kuśtrowski, Vice-Chancellor of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and Prof. Zbigniew Lalak, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warsaw – as well as the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Aleksandra Cisłak-Wójcik, representing the SWPS University, the first non-public HEI in Poland to obtain university status. Panel participants talked about their preparations for the process of scientific parameterization, pointed to specific organizational and financial challenges, and suggested solutions, which could improve the process of the next scientific evaluation.

Remaining on the topic of scientific evaluation, a 15-minute presentation was given by Mr. Marek Michajłowicz, Deputy Director of the National Information Processing Institute, responsible for handling the process of transferring scientific data from universities to the ministerial Academic Achievement Evaluation System.

The third panel focused on the topic of internationalization of scientific and didactic activities of HEIs. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Marek Kwiek from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, who specializes in internationalization of higher education. The panel was attended by Rectors of universities known for their commitment to internationalization: Prof. Jarosław Bosy of Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Prof. Marta Kosior-Kazberuk of Białystok University of Technology, and Professor Jerzy Lis of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. The discussion concerned the organizational, legal, financial and even locational conditions which determine the success of Polish universities in the international arena.

The last panel of the first day of the Conference was dedicated to the topic of sustainable development of universities in the context of the current economic and climate crisis. The discussion was moderated by the Rector of SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Prof. Piotr Wachowiak, and accompanied by Ms. Maria Andrzejewska, Director of the UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre, Prof. Aleksandra Przegalińska, Vice-Rector of Kozminski University responsible for the university’s sustainable development strategy, and Mr. Duncan Ross, Chief Data Officer at Times Higher Education, the only organization in the world to produce a ranking of universities based on the Sustainable Development Goals – THE Impact Rankings.

The second day of the Conference began with a panel discussion on the vision of the university of the future from the perspective of modern information technology. Chief Technology Officer at PCG Academia – Mr. Tomasz Buczak, together with representatives of companies providing IT solutions to universities – Ms. Barbara Michalska of Microsoft Polska, Mr. Tomasz Stoik of SENETIC, and Dr. Krzysztof Wojewodzic of ESCOLA SA, talked about the standardization of IT systems, the need for their migration to the cloud and the challenges associated with it. The issue of Software as a Service (SaaS) licensing model, which is gaining popularity among universities, was also raised.

In the next panel, we traced how data collected in university systems for recording and analyzing scientific output (Sciencecloud), flows into systems for dissemination and international scientific benchmarking (Scopus, SciVal). From there it goes directly to the Times Higher Education database, where after standardization and comparison it takes the form of rankings. Panel participants: Mr. Piotr Masalski from PCG Academia, Mr. Bartłomiej Więckowski from Elsevier and Mr. Michael Lubacz from Times Higher Education, talked about what kind of analyses are possible at each stage of the “data journey” between different systems and what actions they take – together and individually – to ensure that the data used is consistent, verified and reliable.

The vision of a paperless university, from three different perspectives, was discussed by Ms. Ewa Wiśniewska, Vice-President of the Dean’s Forum Association, Head of the Dean’s Office of the College of Law at Kozminski University, Ms. Elżbieta Włodarczyk, Business Line Director for Electronic Signature at KIR and Mr. Łukasz Wróbel, Chief Business Development Officer at WEBCON, a leading provider of university processes automation systems. During the panel moderated by Mr. Jakub Brończyk from PCG Academia they discussed legal, technical and organizational conditions necessary for a fully electronic document workflow at the university – from the moment of creating the document, through collecting all necessary signatures, to making it available and archiving.

Representatives of three excellent universities with different profiles and characteristics were guests of the next panel on remote education of students with the use of e-learning platforms. On behalf of the WSB Academy in Dąbrowa Górnicza spoke the Vice-Rector, Dr. Katarzyna Szczepańska-Woszczyna, Jagiellonian University in Kraków was represented by academic teachers – Dr. Agata Cebera and Mr. Jakub Firlus, and on behalf of the British Salford Business School spoke the Deputy Dean – Dr. Charles Knight. The panel moderator, Ms. Magda Sochacka from PCG Academia, tried to determine what distinguishes the approach of these three universities to the organization of distance learning, and what is at the same time the source of high levels of commitment and satisfaction of students and teachers.

The crowning panel of the LUMEN 2021 Conference was an international discussion of global providers of e-learning solutions for universities, which are united by the fact that their solutions are embedded in the cloud from Amazon Web Services. In the panel moderated by AWS Director responsible for the public sector in Central and Eastern Europe, Tomasz Olejnik, representatives of Blackboard – Mr. Juan Ramon Alegret, Open LMS – Mr. Peter Hirst, and Intelliboard – Ms. Tonya Riney, shared their experiences from the extremely intense pandemic period. The trends and main directions of development on the market of e-learning solutions were indicated based on the examples of leading universities from highly developed educational markets in the United States, UK and Australia.

The entire LUMEN 2021 Conference was concluded and summarized by Prof. Łukasz Sułkowski, who also announced the next, eighth edition of the event, which will take place next autumn.

The 7th LUMEN 2021 Conference was chaired by Mr. Marcin Witkowski from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, who is a specialist in international marketing and intercultural communication of the European Association of Communication Professionals in Higher Education-EUPRIO.

LUMEN 2021 would not be possible without the financial and intellectual contributions from the event’s Partners, which this year included: Blackboard, Inspera, Intelliboard, Open LMS, Elsevier, Microsoft, AWS, Google Cloud, Logitech, Wolters Kluwer, WEBCON, Senetic and KIR. Our deepest thanks for the patronage of our Conference go to: Ministry of Education and Science, Chairman of CRASP, Polish Accreditation Committee, Main Council of Science and Higher Education, National Information Processing Institute – National Research Institute and Instytut Rozwoju Szkolnictwa Wyższego (Institute for Higher Education Development).