According to the data of the State Statistics Service, the number of higher education institutions in Ukraine gradually decreases. Thus, in 2012-2013 there are 486 institutions of I-II level of accreditation and 334 institutions of III-IV level. The year before there were 501 and 345 respectively. The tendency for decrease has been observed since 2003-2004.

The authorities have been speaking for years about the necessity to put order in the system of education institutions, calling themselves higher. But, as experts say, there is also a factor of natural selection: it happens that employers ask graduates of certain universities not to disturb...

In the course of the admission campaign of 2013 there are some outsiders, where nobody wants to study. Education and science minister Dmytro Tabachnyk told a press conference that state higher educational institutions, which were not popular among applicants, would be deprived of state order, and their heads would be left without employment contracts. Private institutions risk to lose licenses. A complete list of universities that have not received any applications was supposed to be made public on July 30.

ForUm has decided to ask experts about how expedient the closing of unpopular institutions is and what the given initiative may result in.

Oleksandr Demyanchuk, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, associate professor, expert on education in Ukraine and US:

- I stand against any administrative measures, as they never end well. Every applicant has a right to chose an education institution, whether it is popular or not. If we start closing unpopular institutions, what should young students, who have already entered them, do? I don't see any logic in such measures.

Moreover, we already have negative experience of closing education institutions, when the authorities were closing schools. What were the results? Academic decline, unemployment of teachers, etc.

Low level of school teaching is another argument against closing higher education institutions. Such institutions are a possibility to get better education and gain deeper knowledge than in school. If we reduce the number of higher education institutions, applicants will be the first to suffer. Not all school graduates have a possibility to enter popular universities.

I want to remind that last year there also was a list of universities that have not received any applications. Later the information was revealed untrue.

If such measures are taken anyway, the competition in remaining universities will become tougher and tuition payment will increase. 

Vasyl Kremen, former education and science minister of Ukraine:

- I believe the system of higher education must be structurally reformed. First of all, we must define the so-called universities of I-II level of accreditation. Technical schools and colleges, as well as vocational schools, must be withdrawn from the system of higher education. Instead, we should create a powerful industry of professional education based on such secondary training institutions.    
Universities must merge, especially in regions, to create regional national universities - one in every regional center. If we do not do this, our higher education will fall behind. It mostly concerns small monogamic universities that do not have sufficient teaching aids base and scientific schools. Graduates of such universities will not be in demand on labor market.
I want to cite Russia as an example, where they have developed six criteria to evaluate universities, including overall grade point average (GPA) of applicants. The grade points will say how popular  this or that university is. I believe it is right to propose weak universities a choice  - to merge and become stronger or to be deprived of public contract and license.

Otherwise, we won't be competitive at the world and European levels, and we should admit it. Merging of universities will do good for both, students and professors. Only rectors and vice rectors will lose, as the number of available posts will decrease. I also believe that the authorities should cut public contracts for week universities to incite them into reformation.

Ihor Likarchuk, director of Ukrainian education quality estimation center, Ed.D., professor:

- It is the fault of higher education institutions that nobody wants to enter them, because they offer lowly occupations and poor quality of education. Lack of applicants will sooner or later result into closing, reorganization or other process. It is a naturally determined process.

Kateryna Samoilyk, member of II, III, IV, V, VI parliaments, member of the communist Party, specialist on education:

- To fire or not to fire a rector for shortage of applicants must be decided in accordance with the employment contract and labour legislation. It is easy to find grounds for dismissal, considering numerous scandals on bribing.

As for noncompliance with a plan of admission, deprivation of public contracts is a right move. Why should the state budget finance universities in little demand? It means the quality of education is poor there. The number of applicants is an indicator of performance of an education institution. No weight - no public contract. 

Stanislav Nikolayenko, former education and science minister of Ukraine (2005-2007):

- The politicians do not quite understand what public contracts mean. If we cancel this contracts, as they say, it will lead to the collapse of technology sectors, which are the driver of our economy.  
We see that school graduates do not enter faculties of physics, chemistry, biology, and not because they do not want, but because they realize they have no place to go after graduation. However, if we do not need mathematicians now, it does not mean we won't need them in ten years, quite on the contrary, in fact. In my time I prevented termination of the program on teaching training of physicists, historians, mathematicians, and now we have teachers of these matters. At the same time we have a sad example regarding medical education, which has been commercialized, and now the country lacks 100 thousand doctors.  

Once I spoke to Croatia's President Franjo Tuđman, who admitted that in 90s the authorities made a mistake having cancelled public contracts. "Now we are forced to spend 20 thousand dollars per year to train one engineer." Ukraine risks to find itself on the same situation. Thus, it would be reasonable to close not the universities that have not filled budget seats, but those that provide low quality education. 

Dmytro Tabachnyk, education and science minister of Ukraine:

- We know which universities have not received applications, but I cannot make the list public yet. Of course, those universities that do not meet public contracts, will not receive any next year. This is the first sanction, as we speak about budget means here. Secondly, if a state university does not receive any application, it serves as a ground for termination of the contract with its rector. The contract reds that the rector must provide high quality education, but high quality education is incompatible with lack of applications.

As for private education institutions, it is the problem of their owners. However, we keep monitoring these institutions for the fourth year in a row, and if a university does not receive any applications every year, we will ask the State inspection on education institutions to consider the situation.

The state accreditation commission withdraws dozens of license annually. But is not a terrorist act or attack, but a predicted result. This year there have been cases when higher education institutions themselves initiated the withdrawal of state licenses, because they have not had applicants for two years in a row. For example, agrarian universities turned down lawyers and managers.


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