Despite the political instability challenging conditions in some regions, Ukraine may still face some positive changes, namely in the field of higher education. The reform of higher education still remains among governmental priorities and the parliamentary committee of science and education has prepared the text for the second reading and made the majority of necessary changes to the draft law on higher education.
Over a number of years Ukrainian universities have been facing many issues around the structure and content of their educational and scientific programmes, and now finally these issues might be resolved.
According to the draft law,a non-governmental agency for quality assurance in higher education will be created in Ukraine, which will authorise the opening of new programmes for all degrees and enforce minimal requirements for the learning process according to ministry-approved standards. Ukrainian universities will have to maintain the qualityof education and will even be required to implement internal monitoring of the quality of the education they offer and regularly publish their results. The draft law is expected to create a well-balanced system where the ministry develops standards, the non-governmental agency gives permission to open programmes, and universities, having met the minimal requirements, compete to boost the quality of what they offer.
Moreover, foreign professors will become equal in the rights they have with their Ukrainian colleagues as Ukrainian universities will be authorised for the final recognition of foreign diplomas and degrees. This will facilitate their involvement in the educational process and the universities will be able to establish full and guest courses with foreign professors.
Another positive side of the draft law is that it willguarantee financial autonomy as it is going to legalise endowments for universities, reduce the number of customs and taxes on their activities and allow universities to manage their own money rather than the state treasury.
Besides that, the draft law touches upon fair electionof university rectors who shall be elected by all employees and students in general by secret and direct elections. The term of a rector’s contract has been reduced as well, to five years, whereby one person can be a rector for a maximum of two terms. Thus, the draft law will create opportunities for constant public control of university authorities.
The tutorial workload both for teachers and students will also be reduced. This change will allow many university teachers to extend the time they spend on research activities. In addition, the workload will be reduced for students because the number of hours in one ECTS credit will be 30 instead of 36 hours. This makes possible the quality restructuring of programmes – a lot of needless courses or subjects that echo one another will disappear.
It should also be mentioned that the draft law gives the possibility of legal guarantees for individuals with disabilities and imposes on universities a duty to provide everything needed for a normal learning process for people with disabilities.
This reform is believed to be fundamental and may bring dramatical positive changes to Ukrainian HE system. Still taking into account the present political instability in the country, the chances for the draft law to be implemented may vary depending on the results of the parliamentary elections.
In any case it is certainly a big step for Ukrainian universities and it might be just the right time to establish international cooperation with them on different programs of student and tutor exchange, as well as dual degrees and joint grant applications.
THE SOURCE: UniversityWorldNews