Yaroslav BOLYUBASH, Head of Higher Education Department of Ministry of Science and Education of Ukraine visited ZNU on February 16. He met with all university staff and lecturers, as well as with student representatives. Actual questions of higher education reformation were discussed.
Leaders of other Zaporizhzhya institutes of higher education of different accreditation levels, officers of regional and municipal education departments were also present at the meeting.
“Higher Education Department has been working hard recently,” – Yaroslav Bolyubash said. “Two-day meeting of summary collegium on science and higher education issues is planned for February 22-23. Corresponding materials from the Minister’s report will be printed in “Osvita Ukrayiny” newspaper. Seizing an opportunity, I will try to mention briefly its main ideas. Workers of our department are startled when another publication, reporting that students and lecturers experience lack of knowledge on Bologna Process. I want to underline: Bologna Process is inevitable.”
“The world today has three main rival centers of education – North America, East Asia and Europe. America, namely USA, keeps on achieving results owing to brains from outside. Meantime, in Europe nearly all the countries – totally 45 – joined Bologna Process to become competitive in science and education market.”
“What does it mean? First of all, ensuring high quality of education. Second, contribution to students’ mobility, their ability to study at educational institutes of different countries. Third, securing competitiveness in labour market. Corresponding principles are realized for these purposes, such as: three-level training – bachelor, master, doctor; credit-transfer system of organization of educational process. We are working on special glossary for correct interpretation of relevant terms, that will be printed and published. In 2nd or 3rd decade of March the seminar with the officials responsible for credit-transfer system introduction is to be held. One of our workers is currently working on manual that will explain everything from the very beginning.”
“There’s another important point in Bolgna Process – two crucial dates: 2007, when European Committee on Bologna Process Affairs will carry out monitoring of everything done by us. Another stage is 2010, when all Europe has to come to an agreement, make a decision and work normative basis out, for this common European educational space to function properly. An interesting fact: Bologna Process doesn’t disclaim preservation on national peculiarities and does not influence the content of education, but the level of education must be high and the degree-system must be provided (bachelor, master, post-graduate course).”
“All this is necessary to prevent the cases when a person is not registered in any libraries, hasn’t delivered any lectures but already has PhD degree. The number of defended theses in Economics has increased several times, but the economy of our country is still low. Jurisprudence is in the same situation.”
“We have to come to these two points, but do not hasten with it. Why? We have no right to be behind the times, but also cannot surpass the process, because the list of disciplines and courses is currently being formed throughout Europe. You might have heard form the press that the project on fields of knowledge, that are adapted to European requirements, was developed and approved by the collegium. But the problem is that there’s still no such list in Europe. So, if we approve it today, we will forestall Europe.”
“Besides, we want the names of specialties to be corresponding with European names. We have already developed the project of enclosure to the diploma of European type, that will contain full information on systems of education and evaluation. In fact, European system of evaluation is seven-grade now, while our higher education has four-grade system (“unsatisfactory”, “satisfactory”, “good” and “excellent”) at present. It could also turn into 12-grade one in due time, but we refused to do it. Now we’re moving towards seven-grade system.”
“There are also some problems with “credit” definition. We offered you 36 hours, while it is 30 hours only in Europe. And 40 weeks per year for study. The year has 52 weeks. Imagine that students will have 12 weeks for holidays – it’s about two months! Young people will have to study intensively. So, many problems still remain.”
“We are also experiencing problems with interpreters and researchers today. Seizing an opportunity, I appeal to you: young people, join comparison researches, this subject-matter, - it has great potential for theses writing.“
“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough understanding today both from rectors and students’ side. Just think, why not to receive an enclosure to diploma that will be accepted in Austria, Spain, elsewhere?! According to statistics, 5 or 6 million Ukrainians are currently abroad. I am sure that more than half of them are people with higher education. But they won’t be asked about their diplomas. We are doing everything possible for our diplomas to be approved. Poland lacks teachers today. Why? Because after Poland joined European Union, teachers went to Germany to work, as salaries are higher there. As a result, whole groups of teachers from Galychyna go there. By the way Poland is very satisfied with our specialists’ professional skills, because our system of training is good.”
“So education reform will give our student a chance to adapt: we will become an open country, exchanges will follow.”
“There will be the worst problem with teachers. First of all, the introduction of credit-transfer system at early stages requires huge additional work. We do not possess that high resource provision. It is the access to information resources by means of computer: there isn’t enough access to Internet both at home and in educational institutions. Teachers lack correspondent technological skills. Besides, such technologies are yet to be developed.”
“But above all we must change our mind.”
“All mentioned above will be introduced starting with academic year 2007-2008. Not 2006-2007! You can work with old programs, because the new one can be introduced only after new content of education is developed.”
“Surely, we are reconsidering approaches to standards. Systems of licensing and accreditation require changes. Undoubtedly, some intermediate attestation of students needs to be introduced. We have determined the limit – second year of study.”
“By the way, it is the first year when we are carrying out the rating of higher education institutes by groups. There are nine groups: classic, teacher’s training, technical, technological etc. and every rector has already seen what place his institute has.”
“Ukraine today has 430 universities, institutes and academies for 47 million people polulation. To compare, Great Britain has 96 universities, France – 78, Italy – 65, Spain – 47, Poland – 11. Western experts are surprised not only the number of institutions, but also their effectiveness. It is much more advantageous to unite both institutes and chairs.”
“The Higher School survives on students who pay for education. 572,000 students entered institutes of I-IV level of accreditation this year, including 396,000 for III-IV level. Another 477,000 graduated this year. We are accepting everyone who can pay – “creditor students”. The worst thing is that the teachers regress – they adapt to conditions when many students are of low level, and their level start decreasing too.”
Yaroslav Bolyubash asked everyone present to remember that our education had startling achievements in fundamental mathematical education, as well as in engineering and technical education. But now it is the time of massive training of lawyers, economists, managers, like in the West before, which means that the number of people who want to advance science seriously, decreases, unlike the number of those, who just want to raise money. Taking this and other factors into consideration, we have to do our best not to lose our best traditions, while changing the system of education.
After that, journalists of university mass-media asked yaroslav Bolyubash to comment on his opinion about the scandals, concerned with names of former ZNU leaders. The answer was:
“We hope that Zaporihzhzhya National University will revive its reputation. My today meeting with the staff has shown, that their eyes are full of optimism and I want to say: thanks to God, all this is already in the past – spirit of struggle is wrong practice… We need to work, not to struggle, and to achieve results by means of work, not struggle.”