The first flying universities were founded in Poland as early as the 19th century. They were secret institutions that enabled young people to engage in scientific exchange, which was officially forbidden under the existing regime. In socialist Poland, a Uniwersytet Latający was later formed again. Until 1981, students and academics met for lecture series in private rooms. Topics were discussed that otherwise did not exist in journalism and academia, or only in a censored form. In order not to be discovered, the meeting places changed. What was important was democratic access to education, the possibility of independent discussions and teaching in the social sciences and humanities. For many women in particular, this was the only access to a university degree and participation in scientific discourse. The underground institutions formed an important counter-movement in the resistance against the Russian and German occupation.
Educational opportunities for Polish youth and Polish women. Access to education and science outside state censorship and control.
During the Second World War, tens of thousands of young people were trained in secret.
Thousands of women obtained their degrees within the framework of the Flying Universities.
__Großer Dschungel. Liberale Hochschullehrer und Studenten lassen eine alte polnische Tradition aufleben: Universitäten im Untergrund. In: DER SPIEGEL 10/1978
Women during a lecture, possibly of the Flying University. Creator and original source unknown, Source: Krzysztof K. Zborowski, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, a brilliant child and a talented teacher, 2011, DOI:10.3989/arbor.2011.extran1111
Building of the Museum of Industry and Agriculture in Warsaw – where students of the Flying University, including Maria Curie-Skłodowska, received laboratory lessons. Photographer unknown, 1908, illustrated in: R. Marcinkowski, Source: Wikipedia
Jadwiga Szczawińska-Dawidowa, the founder of the secret university – Uniwersytet Latający – in Warsaw, ca. 1878. Photo: Jan Mieczkowski (1830-1889). Source: Wikipedia