Higher education in Ukraine has a long and rich history. Its students, graduates and academics have long been known and appreciated worldwide.
The first higher educational institutions emerged in Ukraine during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The first Ukrainian higher educational institution was the Ostrozka School, established in 1576. It was similar to Western European higher educational institutions of the time. The oldest universities in Ukraine are the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, established in 1632, and the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, founded in 1661.
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for strategic planning in higher education. It participates in the development of State policy with regard to standards and quality of education, forecasts national needs for specialists at all levels and directions of training, initiates international cooperation and organizes the licensing and accreditation of higher educational institutions.
The State policy in the field of higher education is based on the following principles: equal merit-based access to higher education for all Ukrainian citizens; independence of higher educational institutions from political parties and/or public and religious organizations; pursuit of the international integration of Ukrainian higher education, while preserving the achievements and traditions of the national system; state support for training specialists in fundamental and applied research; raising the educational level of Ukrainian citizens and widening the prospects for higher education; availability of student loans; granting special rights to students at higher educational institutions; adequate support for the education of disabled; developing continuous education and lifelong learning; modernization of the Ukrainian higher educational system.
The system of higher education of Ukraine provides training in 76 fields and almost 600 specialities. Continuous education receives constant attention as does short-term postgraduate professional education. Ukraine has a well-developed system of postgraduate training, which serves as a ground for lifelong education. Over 30,000 graduates of higher educational institutions are re-trained yearly and about 300,000 specialists update and expand their qualifications.
Higher educational institutions focus on education and research. They have autonomy and hold certain rights of self-governance. Higher educational institutions may also establish their own organizational forms of instruction and research.
There are such types of higher educational institutions in Ukraine as universities, academies, institutes, conservatoires and colleges. Ukrainian universities and academies provide academic and research training in a wide range of fields and contribute to scientific progress at national level, while promoting social, cultural and educational development. Their structure either follows a classical university model or focuses on some particular professional field.
The main positions of teaching and research staff are assistant, lecturer, docent, professor, department chair, dean, vice-rector and rector. The rector of a higher educational institution is accountable for the development of educational activities, financial management and maintenance. The dean of a faculty is responsible for all the activities of all faculty members.
As a rule, academic staff members hold research degrees and/or academic titles; alternatively, they are encouraged to pursue one. The academic titles used in the Ukrainian higher educational system are those of senior researcher, docent and professor.
Funding of higher educational institutions complies with the Budgetory Code of Ukraine, the Laws of Ukraine on Education and on Higher Education. Additional funds derived from external resources include tuition fees and income from research activities. Students enrolled in public higher educational institutions on a full-time, budget-financed basis, are entitled to scholarships. The amount of the scholarship depends on the type of higher educational institution, speciality, student progress and possible additional State subsidies (in the case of social groups with special needs). There are also special personally awarded scholarships granted by the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Higher education graduates are awarded qualifications of the appropriate educational proficiency levels and they are granted diplomas of the state format. Higher education qualifications combine both academic and professional qualifications. They are Junior Bachelor, Bachelor, Master, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Sciences.
Access to higher education is subject to admission regulations. Citizens of Ukraine have equal, merit-based, access to higher educational institutions. School graduates who have completed general secondary education may enter higher educational institutions of any level of accreditation to receive undergraduate training.
Students in higher educational institutions enjoy a series of rights, including the rights to free choice of subject study; free access to educational, research, sport and medical facilities of a higher educational institution; participation in joint/group research, conferences, exhibitions and publications; free access to a university library, databases and other information resources; vacation time; freedom to organize student self-governing bodies. Full-time students also enjoy such privileges as reduced public transportation and hostel accommodation fees.
There are almost 1,000 scientific schools and research institutions, organizations and State enterprises subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Among them is the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine that focuses on the development of the national higher education system in the areas of pedagogy and pedagogical research. The research institutes subordinated to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine undertake a considerable range of research, technological and laboratory activities.
The main directions of international cooperation among higher educational institutions is the exchange of students, teachers and researchers for the purposes of joint research, international conferences, teaching programmes, joint publishing activities. At present, over 10,000 Ukrainians study abroad and about 25,000 students from 110 countries study in Ukraine.