Principals of Kyiv technical institute and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy have put forward an initiative to abandon the practice of issuing common diplomas of the state-approved format. According to them, every educational institution should issue individual graduation certificates.

The initiative was supported by Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov, who wrote on his Facebook page that "every educational institution should issue its own diploma and account for the quality of this document." "We have various institutes, but the same diploma format, as if it guarantees single quality of education. But in fact, it does not, and in my opinion, such initiative will increase the responsibility of educational institutions for the education quality."

Education minister Dmytro Tabachnyk, however, was less judgemental. "I would permit universities to experiment and to issue their own diploma and the state-recognized diploma. That would be the best social research," he told a briefing and added that in any case it is not an issue of this year, possibly of the next one.

Moreover, according to the minister, the society has mixed feelings on the matter. In particular, the older generation is afraid of such innovation. According to the minister, it is necessary to make a transition period.

To clarify the situation and to learn how many diplomas one institute needs ForUm has asked specialists, MPs and officials.

Stanislav Mykolayenko, former education minister of Ukraine (2005-2007):

- In the first years of independence, there was a period when educational institutes were issuing their own diplomas. Well, there was a university, which was so eager to issue its diplomas that after some time students stormed the parliament demanding to give back their money spend on education. In the end of 90ies, there was a period when diplomas were for sale and it was very easy to counterfeit them. For this, somewhere in 2000, the government introduced the system of single registration and control over issued diplomas - a single electronic database. Nowadays, any HR department can verify whether an applicant has a real diploma. Before 2000, there was a loophole and people could bribe a university to forge the lists and records. Now it is impossible, because the whole database is under the minister's control.

I could agree on double diplomas, though. The Kyiv National Trade and Economy University, for example, issues two diplomas - individual and foreign, as it has an agreement with a French university, which prepares specialists of restaurant and hotel business. I don't see a problem for universities to issue two diplomas. It can become a transition period before the times when we all become honest and state diplomas pass into history. For the moment, however, it is too early to abandon single state system.

Vasyl Kremen, president of the National academy of education, former education minister (1999-2005):

- This is a good idea, but its realization requires thorough preparations. First of all, it is necessary to provide strict control of all documents being issued by educational institutes to prevent forgeries. Secondly, it is necessary to enlarge universities, especially regional ones. The fact is that many universities are uncompetitive, and if we ban them from issuing state-approved diplomas and oblige to issue individual ones, which are not high-valued, these small universities will go bankrupt.

Lilia Hrynevych, head of the parliamentary committee on science and education:

- In many developed countries, diplomas are issued by universities. We support the initiative, but our main concern is forgery. There must a state registry of diplomas, being issued by universities, so that employers can verify authenticity of this or that document. 

The fact that we have single state-approved format of diplomas does not mean we have higher education of the same high quality. If universities start issuing individual diplomas, they will be motivated to improve the quality of education so that their diplomas become of high demand on the market.

Mykola Holovatyi, professor of political science, vice-principal of the IAPM on research:

- I fully support the initiative, and it does not mean that licensing and accreditation of educational institutions will be cancelled. The state must control scientific researches and academic performance, while higher education institution must be responsible for the preparation of specialists. Cambridge, Harvard and Ukrainian Kyiv-Mohyla Academy issue individual diplomas. The Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (IAPM) issues both state-approved and individual diplomas. Employers will be able to choose specialists of certain universities, and in this case, universities will be interested in improving the quality of education to make their diplomas of greater demand.

Alla Seletska, expert on foreign education:

- We have very low standards and corruption in the education sphere. If we remove state control, small private institutes will lose every standard. In fact, only state standards keep these universities afloat.

Anglo-Saxon countries indeed do not have state-recognized diplomas - every university issues personal documents. But in France, for example, there are both state and individual diplomas, and the state-recognized diploma is of higher value. In Germany, the majority of higher education institutions are of state form of ownership with state-approved diplomas. I believe, under our current conditions such initiative will lead to degradation of our education system.

Kateryna Samoilyk, MP of several convocations, Communist party member, specialist on education issues:

- I don't see much sense in this experiment. I don't understand the goal of this initiative. To upgrade the image of an institute? The second diploma cannot do this. Shevchenko's University and Kyiv technical institute, for example, already have certain reputation. I don't see what individual diploma can give.


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