Universities transferred from ATO zone struggling to remain operational – Oleksiy Ryabchyn


Kyiv, October 22, 2015. There are currently 16 universities in Ukraine that have moved from areas temporary not within Ukrainian government control. The institutions have relocated to branch campuses in other cities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions or to other Ukrainian regions. According to Oleksandr Kulha, Director of the Coordination Center for universities transferred from Donetsk and Luhansk regions, approximately 1/3 of university professors and students have moved with them. “These universities find themselves in different conditions: some of them used these challenges to not only remain on Ukraine’s map but also to develop. However many of these universities are slowly dying,” noted Oleksiy Ryabchyn, MP at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to him the universities which best met the challenges are Donetsk National University, Luhansk National University and Dal East Ukrainian National University. “Powerful teams able to attract donor financing and lobby their interests have formed there” but the situation with other universities is worse.

The main problems that the transferred universities face include lack of affordable accommodation for students and professors, pending payment of salaries and student allowances as well as overall insufficient financial support. “Nine universities have their needs for assets covered by 30%, five more do not have a single equipment piece available,” said Kulha. As for the situation with pending payment of salaries and student allowances, said Viktor Artemenko, expert on student self-governance and a member of F5 Experts in Action group “there are universities that have pending payments fully covered, but there are those where student allowances have not been paid for six months and more,” as their data bases remain in occupied territories.

According to Oleksiy Ryabchyn the problem of insufficient accommodation can be resolved by auditing available housing facilities and restoring dormitories that “require minimum capital investment”. To finance the transferred universities part of the UAH 1,5 billion currently frozen in the occupied territory can be used. Ryabchyn also added that there is already a draft law to have this money transferred to Ukraine-controlled territory, a respective appeal to the Heads of the Donetsk and Luhansk military-and-civic administrations has been prepared. Moreover two weeks ago provision no.65 of the Cabinet of Ministers was annulled for the transferred universities that banned the use of budget money for conducting repair works.

The Coordination Center for universities transferred from Donetsk and Luhansk regions is actively detecting and resolving the problems of the transferred universities. The Center currently unites 16 transferred universities, cooperates with the Ministry of Justice and “Donbas SOS” NGO. According to Kulha the Center is cooperating with the Parliamentary Committee over the bill drafted to introduce changes to Ukraine’s Customs Code that is to simplify the procedure to bring in the equipment donated to the universities by international partners. The Center is also negotiating with the British Council on exchange programs. The F5 Experts in Action group in its turn is resolving problems of student self-governance: plans to conduct training for student leaders on how to establish their teams, implement projects and promote students interests.