Kyiv, August, 4, 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, with the support of nearly every faction of the parliament, has signed into law a new bill on higher education. This was stated by Serhiy Kvit, the Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Kvit described the new education legislation as a “revolutionary law,” which introduces a lot of changes to the Ukrainian educational system. The law is “a great example of consensus in our government,” said Kvit.
The Minister of Education explained that the current law is the result of more than three years of effort of many representatives from universities and education experts who supported the project. Above all, the law seeks to improve the quality of Ukrainian higher education through two key systemic changes.
The first emphasis of the new law is to increase “the academic, financial, and organizational autonomy” of Ukrainian higher education institutions, said Kvit. For example, the reforms allow Ukrainian universities to open their own bank accounts, and give educators greater flexibility in the classroom in order to encourage scientific research. The reforms reduce educators’ workload from 900 to 600 hours per year, as well as promote more education outside of the classroom for students. Public servants will also have fewer responsibilities over the higher educational system.
The second emphasis of the law is the creation of a quality control regime with the purpose of enhancing the quality of Ukrainian universities. The law creates a ‘National Quality Agency,’ which oversees the quality of the country’s universities. The agency will consist of representatives of the government, in addition to representatives from public and private universities and students. “The agency must be professionally independent,” stressed Kvit, and will be responsible for the licensing of accredited universities. In addition, the law will promote the creation of a new system of staff development in order to improve teaching quality. Kvit believes that the reforms will decrease the number of institutions of higher education in Ukraine, but will improve their overall quality.
Kvit emphasized that the success of the recently passed reforms requires the cooperation of the entire Ukrainian educational community, and the amelioration of corruption. “This law is very good, but it will work only if it is supported by the academic community,” he stated. Furthermore, the overhaul of Ukraine’s education system ultimately requires the development of Ukraine’s economy and the proliferation of higher quality jobs in the country. The emigration of students abroad to find better educational and financial opportunities, often called brain drain, is a real problem that threatens to divert Ukrainian funds invested in education to other countries. Ultimately, Ukraine needs to develop both its economy and universities, as well as curtail corruption, in order to support Ukrainian education. Serhiy Kvit says that the new educational law has much potential to greatly improve the higher educational system in Ukraine.
Serhiy Kvit, the president of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, was appointed the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine on February 27, 2014, in the new Yatseniuk government. As president of the university, he openly protested against former President Yanukovych’s appointment of Dmytro Tabachnyk to the position of educational minister, and consistently called for reforms to the country’s educational system.