Ukrainian Catholic University speaks out in support of Kyiv Mohyla Academy
In an official statement, the Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University [UCU], Father Boris Gudzyak has called on the Ministry of Education to study the Kyiv Mohyla Academy’s educational system and extend its experience to the entire sphere of higher education.
Father Gudzyak expresses the Ukrainian Catholic University’s deep concern over the conflict which has arisen between the National University Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) and the Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sport (the Ministry). I”n our opinion, the specific reasons for differences in position, while important in themselves, can only reflect far more profound differences caused by radically different views of the tasks of higher education in Ukraine.
Decades of relative freedom have generated important and viable developments within Ukraine’s educational sphere, with one of the most striking of these being the National University Kyiv Mohyla Academy. This university has contributed enormously to the formation of a new educational standard developing in higher education, representing such values as academic freedom, high quality of education and creative search”.
The statement points out that this assessment is borne out by the fact that the university attracts bright and creative people and there is fierce competition for places, as well as its academic level, including knowledge of foreign languages (especially English) making it well-known throughout the world.
It stresses that the university’s obvious success should be evidence to the Ministry that since the university resumed its activities it has developed a unique and viable system of education which has proven its effectiveness. “The ministry should study the NaUKMA educational system and by promoting the relevant amendments to legislation extend its experience to the entire sphere of higher education. This is why it is staggering that in fact we see the opposite trend in Ukraine where original educational phenomena are squeezed into a straitjacket of a flawed law. “
UCU believes that the Ministry should at this crucial moment be guided not by the letter of what has outlived its day, but by what is to be desired. Quality of education must be the main criterion, “otherwise its actions, illustrated by its present demands to NaUKMA will demonstrate the wish to reign in the insubordinate. “
It stresses that there is consensus, even within the Ministry, that the system of higher education needs reforming. However the Ministry cannot hope to achieve this by stifling undoubtedly successful experiments, but by generating more.
UCU believes that the present conflict was virtually programmed by the spirit of the new version of the Law on Higher Education. This is a move backwards, to the times of excessively centralized administration. “The new draft law on higher education is yet another demonstration of the relentless reduction in the achievements of Ukraine’s democracy in the field of education which is leading to Ukraine’s self-isolation in the international academic sphere and to retrograde internal changes. The Ukrainian Catholic University has already expressed its concern to the Ministry regarding the nature of this document and is regrettably becoming convinced that it is right to be concerned.
UCU expresses its solidarity with NaUKMA’s attempts to retain the educational system which has stood the test of time and given abundant fruit, and to uphold the elements of its autonomy. We call on the Ministry to recognize the obvious achievements of the NaUKMA academic community and to rethink its attitude to the experience it has gained.