Kyiv, December 24, 2015. First-rate education and science is the foundation for economic development, based on knowledge, discoveries and new technologies. The draft law on the reform of scientific and educational activities, approved by the Parliament, is based on the best and most productive European ideas adapted to the Ukrainian realities. At a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center, the scientific community appealed to the President to sign the law. “It is not a solution to all problems, but it provides a necessary toolkit. Education and science are declared important sectors in society but in fact they are not a priority,” said Natalia Shulha, Senior Expert at the Reanimation Package of Reforms group “Science. Technologies. Innovations.” She noted that under the law, scientists and government officials at the National Scientific Council will jointly take decisions in this area. Additional funding by means of grants will be available to every researcher, no matter where they work, through the National Research Fund. The law will allow Ukrainian researchers to integrate into international scientific and educational area, explained Shulha. “Ukraine has a chance to be equal partner in Europe and across the world due to a large number of challenging advanced research,” said the expert.
Maksym Strikha, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, said that Ukrainian science is effective but to improve its level authorities should implement this law, integrate into the European research area and continue its reform with respect to our achievements. He said that in January an external independent audit of Ukrainian innovation system of scientific and educational institutions will be launched. It will use the mechanisms of the European Research Area Committee. And in June, we will estimate our potential to optimize the existing facilities network. “Education and science are the areas one cannot cut funds for, because they relate to the country’s defense and future as a whole,” said Strikha. He also said that all improprieties that outraged scientific community have been removed from the draft budget for next year. The issue of financing is still burning and the scientific community will prove their importance of their activities. Although for real changes in this field, the scientists insist on implementing the new law.
Anatoliy Zagorodniy, Vice-President of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU), called the new law “reformatory”, as it provides conditions for establishment of new institutions and democratization of the NASU. According to Zagorodniy, the advantage of the law is that changes are implemented not by revolutionary means, like breaking the previous system, but rather by means of “soft” reforms. He emphasized that Ukrainian scientists are very professional; their research are second to none, particularly in energy sector, coal industry, agriculture, which are “matters of strategic security.” “We are not lagging behind in basic sciences, there are examples of world-class research in theoretical physics, molecular biology and genetics, chemistry, neuroscience,” he said. Zagorodniy stressed that young scientists’ need for reforms is particularly acute.
Oleksandra Antoniuk, President of Humboldt Club Ukraine, explained that the new law opens up new ways for young people. For example, long business trips abroad for young scientists were impossible; they had to emigrate, or not leave the country at all. “The law regulates this possibility, it enables our young colleagues to go and gain experience and return with new contacts, ideas and then involve other colleagues,” she said. In addition, the new law establishes a national council of scientific researchers and managers who can together create a “road map” of education and science. “This law is a genuine reform […]. I hope 2016 will be the start, which allows creating a real economy based on knowledge,” summarized Antoniuk.
According to Oleksandr Skorokhod, Chairman of the Young Scientists Council, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, now our country is at a crossroads. It is optimization and cost reduction for the industry according to the draft budget, or a slow road, “the road of reform and it is embedded in the law”. His deputy, Yulia Bezvershenko, is convinced that the law innovations are important both for each scientist who despite meager wages continues working in the home country. “We will work on the implementation of the reform no matter what the terms are. This process has started since Maidan and we have nowhere to retreat. Some people will leave, some will stay and finish this process,” said Bezvershenko, and urged the authorities to hear young scientists and unite for the future.