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20.01.2011

Students to be forced to pay back their education

   

On Wednesday the Cabinet of Ministers instructed the Ministry of Education to heighten control over use of public funding.  It is planned from the new academic year to make students receiving State-funded education to compensate the State for the money spent on their education and to establish economically warranted payment for hostel accommodation. According to members of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Educational and Scientific Issues, the Cabinet of Ministers ‘initiative is in breach of the Constitution which guarantees citizens freedom of choice where they work.

The Cabinet of Ministers Resolution was passed on the results of an audit for 2008-2009 and first quarter where the State Finance Inspection which found a loss of 355 million UAH.  The audit also found that the Ministry of Education had not taken a role in the employment of State-funded students and had unwarrantedly increased expenditure on maintaining its own management structure, this leading to losses of more than 555 million UAH. 114 million set aside for textbooks had also not been used as intended. Other unwarranted expenses included 11 million from non-transparent tenders.

The State Finance Inspection has called on the Ministry of Education to heighten financial control, although the report by Komersant – Ukraine speaks only of measures to make students pay back the cost of their education, and to make the cost of accommodation economically “warranted”.

The First Deputy Head of the Committee on Educational and Scientific Issues, Maxim Lutsky (Party of the Regions) says that hostel accommodation is in the list of paid services of an institute.

National Deputy Lesya Orobets (Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence) is convinced that the idea of forcing people to work to compensate their studies is in breach of Ukrainian legislation. She says that the Cabinet of Ministers seems unaware of either the ILO Convention on Eliminating Forced Labour, which Ukraine has ratified, or the constitutional right of citizens to free higher education. She believes the government should introduce a system of incentives and guarantees for graduate work in the public sector, including interest-free loans.

The Ministry of Education also considers the Cabinet of Ministers initiative to be contentious, and points to the constitutional provision stipulating freedom of choice where you work. They say that one variant could be for specialists when taking up new work to sign a contract reflecting compensation for public funding.

From a report at Kommersant-Ukraine

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