Ukraine’s Minister of Education and Science, Dmytro Tabachnyk (an individual well-known for his xenophobic pronouncements regarding the Ukrainian language and culture - widely disseminated through Youtube.com), has launched an attack on the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (NaUKMA). Kyiv-Mohyla Academy is not just one of the oldest universities in eastern and southern Europe (soon to mark its 400 anniversary). Today, this institution is one of the most prestigious universities in Ukraine, where research and education are organized according to the highest of world standards. NaUKMA is currently the Ukrainian university that is most integrated in the European Higher Education Area, being the first in independent Ukraine to introduce bachelor’s, master’s, and now PhD programs. We are the only Ukrainian university to be officially bilingual: in addition to Ukrainian, our second working language is English. NaUKMA offers a system of Liberal Arts Education that allows students to freely choose courses, and to design their own educational trajectory. NaUKMA is the only university in Ukraine where corruption does not exist.
Ukraine’s Minister of Education Dmytro Tabachnyk seeks to nullify all of these achievements with the following:
Firstly, by forbidding English as a second language of instruction at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Since Kyiv-Mohyla Academy revived in 1991, every applicant to the university, every applicant to NaUKMA has been required to demonstrate working knowledge of English – sufficient to be able to understand lectures, fully utilize the university library, access international research publications, and to eventually (after several years of subject-area study) embark on joint research with colleagues from Western European and North American universities. Dmytro Tabachnyk believes that knowledge of English at the university entry stage is unnecessary and has threatened repressions if Kyiv-Mohyla Academy continues to insists on English proficiency as a compulsory entry requirement for its students.
Secondly, by forbidding the inclusion of certain declared rights into Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’s statute that allow the university to independently set its own Human Resource policy (including to independently determine academic ranks, and to independently determine teaching, research, and other task loads for which its faculty and staff are paid salaries); to establish PhD programs; to allow students to freely choose their specialty area from educational cycle to cycle (for example, to apply to a Master’s program in a different field than that completed at the Bachelor’s level – a generally accepted practice worldwide).
Thirdly, through efforts aimed at adopting a new Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education” which negates the principle of university autonomy (including academic, financial, organizational), and is therefore antithetical to the principles of the European Higher Education Area. For example, according to the draft law, the Soviet-era “candidate of sciences” is simply renamed into the PhD with no introduction of structured programming; interdisciplinary education becomes a legal impossibility at the program level; the needs of the national economy and employers are ignored. The draft law makes no mention of the European Credit Transfer System, no national strategy for life-long learning is proposed. According to this law, the status of a university is to be determined not according to quality level, but rather exclusively according to quantitative measures. Thus, only an institution with no less than 10 thousand full-time students may be a “classical university”. Kyiv-Mohyla Academy has a student body of just over 3500; we are likely therefore to lose our “university” status soon.
We appeal to you for public support for the position of the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” in our stand against the self-isolation of Ukrainian universities, and against the further degradation of research and education in Ukraine.