Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Politics and human rights

State scholarships only for those in Tabachnyk’s good books?


The Ministry of Education has cut State funding for a number of Master’s programmes offered by the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kyiv, including those in the School of Journalism. The university [its full title is National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” or NaUKMA] can find no logic to this situation and call the Ministry’s actions “deliberate damaging of high-quality education”. Analysts are convinced that allocation of State scholarships has become a means of reprisal against dissident deans and encouragement for “their people”.

Serhiy Kvit, President of the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” gave an interview to Radio Svoboda regarding the cuts in public funding via State scholarships for several Master’s programmes.

We found out about this on Friday when allocated State scholarships, despite the fact that the timeframe for applying for places on the Master’s programmes had ended. There are no logical explanations for this, since we have a licence and our Master’s programme is special and has proven its worth most successfully. . One hundred percent of our graduates are working in mass communication. Such a policy has no explanation and no justification”.

Besides journalism, the Master’s Course for Social Work also lost State funding. There were 50% cuts as well in State scholarships for Bachelor’s Courses in law and economics areas.

NaUKMA is waiting for an official explanation from the Ministry of Education. Meanwhile in a recent TV interview the Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk explained his position with regard to State scholarships, speaking of the need to support maths and natural sciences fields.

“This year for the first time we did not cut State funding in any areas of engineering, maths and chemistry training”.

He asserted that there are presently too many economists and lawyers on the market since 163 Ukrainian higher educational institutes offer such courses whereas up to 1992 law degrees were only offered in 5 Ukrainian institutes. “It’s terrifying to put yourself in the hands of such a lawyer, terrifying. In Ukraine two of the worst quality training, the most unemployed professions are, unfortunately, those of lawyer and economist”, the Minister stated.

However specialists do not see in these steps from the Ministry of Education a well-thought-out government policy on training the most needed specialists. According to a former Deputy Minister of Education, Maxim Strikha, it was undoubtedly true that something needed to be done with State scholarships, with the numbers excessive in some fields and far too low in others. “Yet what the Ministry is doing fits only into one system. It is a fight with those who dare to have any opposition views, and incentive for those who need to be encouraged”,

Following Tabachnyk’s appointment as Minister of Education, the President of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Serhiy Kvit was the first to publicly speak out against the choice of Minister.

Besides the situation with cuts at NaUKMA, which experts call “political reprisal”, this year the Ministry of Education cut funding for institutes traditionally not in the Minister’s good books. According to Maxim Strikha, these included the Ostroh Academy and the Kyiv Polytechnic. The Dean of the latter, Mykhailo Zhurovsky has of late not been in favour with the current Minister of Education.  The Polytechnic has had funding cut for a number of IT courses. This is while funding for those IT courses has been increased for the Donetsk Polytechnic which President Yanukovych once graduated from. 

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