How Reforming Higher Education in Ukraine Will Benefit Science

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room LL20B (San Jose Convention Center)
Serhiy Kvit, Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine
Science in Ukraine since independence in 1991 has retained much of the character of its Soviet past.  Research is mainly carried out in institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.  The centralized, highly controlled university system primarily teaches classes, and what little scientific research is done in universities is not well-coordinated with the Academy institutes.  Moreover, only a small percentage of the funding that supports that research is distributed on the basis of merit. When the Yanukovych government fled Ukraine in early 2014, a path was cleared for sweeping reforms in the education and science sectors.  The higher education law, passed in July of 2014, grants greater academic, financial, and organizational autonomy to all of Ukraine’s universities. Ministries will have less influence over the higher educational system generally.  Universities will have control of their own finances.  Teaching loads are being reduced by 1/3, which encourages faculty to spend time in scientific research.   A new, professionally independent ‘National Quality Agency,’ will serve a national accreditation and quality control function for both public and private universities. Additional legislation is planned to increase the share of research funding distributed on a merit basis and bring Academy research institutes into closer cooperation with universities, which will be able to further expand their research activity. All this has taken place against a backdrop of a war which has disrupted or halted science and education activity in parts of the country, an economic crisis that has seen the value of the national currency fall sharply, and worsening energy insecurity.  Funding for science has dropped precipitously, as Ukraine’s resources are diverted toward securing Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  Reform of Ukraine’s education and research systems ultimately will require the recovery and development of Ukraine’s economy, the proliferation of higher quality jobs and curtailment of corrupt practices – a daunting agenda.  Nevertheless, Ukraine’s science and education reform movement has its eyes on the long-term recovery of the country’s former science and engineering excellence.