Kyiv makes big step forward in higher education reform

KYIV - For more than two years now hard discussion on the reform of higher education of Ukraine takes place. It has resulted in a number of students protests and made even academics take the streets in 2011 to express their disagreement. But it looks like the protests now finally are bearing fruit as reforms are on their way in the country.

On 24 January, the Prime-Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov, met with the representatives of the universities and students’ union and took the decision to create a working group to propose changes to the draft law dubbed "On Higher Education". Rector of Kyiv National Polytechnic University, Michael Zgurovsky, is assigned to lead the work of the group.

The working group carried out its job on the principles of transparency and consensus. The group consisted out of students, academic staff, and NGOs. More than three thousands amendments were gathered on the higher education bill from the different organizations and institutions, and in two weeks the working group has developed a new draft of the Law "On Higher Education”.

On 21 February, the working group presented the suggestions from the working group to Azarov. Leader of the working group, Zgurovsky, pointed out that there were changes made in 67 out of 71 articles of the Ministerial draft of the Law “On Higher Education”.

The most important change in the amended draft proposal will lead to democratisation of the higher education system of Ukraine, through the increase of university autonomy, involvement of stakeholders into the university governance and quality assurance.

Both students and academics have shown their support to the developed draft. President of the Ukrainian Association of Students’ Self-government, Ielyzaveta Shchepetylnykova has pointed out that project of Law introduces three cycle higher education in Ukraine (bachelor, masters, PhD), brings recognition at the university level, proposes instruments for the increase of the students and staff mobility which will increase Ukrainian integration into the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Also former ministers of education and science of Ukraine spoke out in favor of the support working group proposal.

The Ukrainian prime-Minister has pointed out that the law “On Higher Education” can be only adopted when it is highly supported by the academics, as the impact of it cannot be underestimated. The new law will be proposed for the voting to the Parliament before the end of the spring, as the Prime-Minister promised.

A huge step has been made towards the needs of the academic community and all the proposals suggested by the students were accepted by the working group in the amended draft of the Law. Ukrainian Association of Students’ Self-government (UASS( hopes that this will be the beginning of  effective higher education reform in Ukraine.