What will happen to higher education?

Recently, one more discussion about the need to reform higher education in Ukraine was open up in the information space once again. This time, Mikhail Saakashvili has taken the initiative and proposed to change the quality of Ukrainian education very "radically and in a revolutionary way". In his opinion, "a student should choose an institution of higher education himself and pay for it with money." Of course, if the student or parents have this sum of money. It is possible that the state may provide financial support for such education as well.
Dmytro Baida
Teacher, media worker
The Office of Simple Solutions, headed by Mr. Saakashvili, wants to kill two birds with one stone with the help of the reform: to strengthen competition among students and to ensure individual management of the funds allocated annually for education in Ukraine through competition between universities.

The Minister of Education and Science , Serhiy Shkarlet, has also repeatedly declared the need to "optimize" higher education institutions, emphasizing that the government will not be able to finance all the higher education institutions that exist today.

Therefore, a logical question arises: "Will the "market-based approach", increased competition and the closing of part of higher education institutions really improve the quality of Ukrainian education?".

The answer to this question should be searched not only in professional expert discussions, but also in the opinions of those who are directly related to the education sector due to their daily work at school and university.

Dmytro Bayda works as a school teacher (teaches fundamentals of journalism), as well as a media specialist at the university, so he experiences all the dynamics of today's changes firsthand. In his opinion, Ukrainian youth who go to Poland to get higher education do not always get the quality they expect. There are cases when unwillingness to pass the main standardized entrance exam (EIA), for which a lot of training is required and on which the opportunity to receive a scholarship in the best Ukrainian higher education institution depends, is the main reason for such migration. So, studying in Poland is, for the most part, a search for a better perspective, perhaps even in terms of future employment. Especially for the population living in the regions.

Many private educational institutions in Poland, which do not have high ratings, survive exactly at the expense of those Ukrainians who are ready to pay for their children's education. Therefore, it is clear that Polish educational institutions do extremely active promotion and advertising in order to attract as many Ukrainian students as possible. Thus, the struggle for a student increases competition not only within countries, but also within the European educational space.

Another urgent problem in higher education of Ukraine is characterized by low rates of employment of students in the field of higher education obtained. The lack of understanding on how the economy will develop, how many graduates with a specific education will be needed in the future prevents establishing an effective relationship between the labor market and educational services.

In Dmytro's opinion, focusing only on private institutions of higher education, Ukrainian Catholic University and Kyiv School of Economics, is somewhat wrong. Do not forget that these educational institutions set quite high prices for education. For most families in Ukraine, with a low standard of living and meager salaries, it remains only to dream of such an opportunity for their children. Despite all the publicity of UСU and other private higher education institutions, there is a big difference between private educational institutions and the public ones. The latter are the majority.

By the way, the school education system is currently being reformed in order to reduce its costs. In simple words, the number of students who will be able to finish 11 grades, instead of 9, will decrease significantly. If most schools currently accept students from the 1st to the 11th grade, then the idea of the reform, which is currently being actively implemented, consists in splitting schools into 3 groups (primary, middle and senior levels). And those students who do not have place in senior level, most likely, will go to Poland or, in the best case, will go to vocational education institutions or colleges. They will not be able to enter the university immediately after school.

According to Dmytro's opinion, education is not a goods market. The government should spend budget funds on those universities and specialties that are necessary for the strategic development of the economy. If the IT sphere is developing now and the average salary is attractive, most of the applicants can choose IT. However, the situation in which the labor market may become oversaturated in this area should not be ignored. There have already been similar examples in Ukraine, when law and economics majors with large groups of students were opened in every university. The idea was that the parents of the entrants wanted their children to earn a good salary in the future. As a result, we have got a lot of graduates with specialization that is not needed in the job-market and with a low quality of education.
In Ukraine, the system of higher education is ideally not a business, not a market player, not a capitalist. This is, first of all, an investment in the economy and qualified specialists for future industries. And its elitism can lead to an even greater stratification of society and a deepening of the gap between rich and poor people.
A column is a type of material that reflects exclusively the opinion of the author.
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