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The present paper discusses the new Polish law on higher education in the context of the contrasted global and academic paradigms of university funding, governance, and organization. Its point of departure is the advent of international comparative data in higher education, the measurability of individuals, academic units and institutions in terms of research output, and the emergence of a new social contract between the state and universities. The key concepts used to evaluate the new law are competition in science, academic income structure and academic knowledge production structure, internationalists and locals in science, and vertical differentiation in national higher education systems. The new law is assessed in the context of the original reform proposal suggested by the national team of experts led by the present author and its long-term strategic choices are discussed in more detail, including a changing system of institutional evaluation, a revised system of academic degrees, and new excellence-focused national funding schemes.
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