Universities that moved from occupied territories face similar problem: lack of state financing – management of Donetsk and Luhansk national universities


Kyiv, December 3, 2015. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science 16 out of 49 universities of Luhansk and Donetsk regions have moved out of the temporary occupied territories to other cities on the Ukraine-controlled territory. Around 36 thousand students and three thousand professors have changed their place of studies or work along with the universities. Out of the problems that the universities face at their new location the main result from lack of state financing in the social sector. Both students and professors have to consider where they should accommodate and what money to use to get to the universities. The state is also not disbursing money to renew the universities’ material resources, said representatives of rector’s offices at the Donetsk and Luhansk national universities Roman Gryniuk and Dmytro Uzhchenko via Skype at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) held in the framework of the UCMC pilot project “Spokesperson of peaceful life”.

According to Rector Gryniuk, the Donetsk National University has been working in Vinnytsia in a full-fledged mode for a year already. Due to the forced relocation of the university only four thousand students out of 13 decided to continue their studies. For those who could not move to Vinnytsia but wanted to continue studying in the Donetsk University there are distance learning and online courses.

Professor Gryniuk, PhD in law is of the opinion that the government has to work out a state target program to resolve the problem of insufficient accommodation provision for both students and professors. “The state has to realize that young people are our future and universities are the basis for development of our country,” emphasized the rector of Donetsk State University.

Another problem is the need to renew material resources of the Donetsk University. This need is addressed by the donors and charity funds. The university was granted an IT, natural history and language laboratories, a production studio in the framework of the International Renaissance Foundation project “European Development of Donetsk National University”. An academic mobility program was introduced as well.

Thanks to the program Ukrainian students have an opportunity to study and work in European universities, Polish ones in particular, while foreign professors and Ukrainian academicians are able to hold lectures in the university. The project budget is USD 7 million. The university also cooperates with the U.S. and Czech embassies. Gryniuk is convinced that “thanks to such active work we will be able to restore the university’s material resources in a year.” Construction of the university campus in Vinnytsia is being negotiated with the Embassy of Norway. “The project is currently at the negotiation stage. It is a large-scale one. I think we will know the answer as to the readiness of the government of Norway [to take part in the project],” noted the rector.

Dmytro Uzhchenko, vice rector of Taras Shevchenko Luhansk National University said that the university had moved to Starobilsk (Luhansk region) in 2014 where one of its campuses was previously located. “Out of almost 18 thousand students registered in 2013, over nine thousand are now studying. The university has not only survived but remains one of the country’s biggest ones,” noted Uzhchenko. However, the problems it faces are same. Instead of the three and a half thousand places in the dormitory that the university used to have it may now count on 400 only.

Oleksandr Babichev, vice rector of Taras Shevchenko Luhansk University, is convinced that information work the state is conducting is insufficient. As a result students who live on the territories that the Ukrainian government does not control are under constant influence of the Russian propaganda and the university “can’t do anything about the brainwashing.” At the same time according to the vice rector the Luhansk University has chosen to be bringing up the patriots. “We have a chance to talk to ATO servicemen, to the people who were out on Maidan and thus we understand what processes are taking place in the country,” emphasized Babichev. He also said that students from the temporary occupied territories are constantly addressing the university with requests to renew them as students in the university.