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13.06.2012
source: www.dw.de

Higher Education Law again on hold

   

Student protest in 2011 (the barrel has the words MILK REFORMS

The government has once again postponed agreeing the draft law on higher education and tabling it in parliament. Some civic activists complain that the bill is being drawn up without transparency.

The draft Law on Higher Education was initially drawn up by the Education Ministry in 2010 and provoked student protests and strong criticism from the academic community. President Yanukovych was forced to send the bill back for re-working. It was tabled in parliament in December 2011, but by January this year the Prime Minister had suggested additional consultation with student unions.

At the beginning of June the Prime Minister announced tat it had been agreed and said that it would be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in September or actually tabled in parliament, and said that this would be a “revolutionary step in higher education”.

On 7 June the Deputy Speaker, Mykola Tomenko (from the opposition BYUT faction) informed that the Cabinet of Ministers had once again delayed agreement until 13 June.  It is now likely that the bill will be tabled in parliament in September or October meaning that it will be adopted by the parliament elected at the end of October.

Oleksandr Smirnov from the Ukrainian Student Self-Government Association points out that in comparison with the previous version of the draft bill, they have made considerable progress.  University autonomy is better protected, the Education Ministry has minimum influence on the election of deans and financial plans, and students have the right to choose 25% of their course. The Association, together with other civic groups, was part of the working group which drew up the  draft bill.

Oleksandr however refutes the Prime Minister’s assertion that all issues in dispute have been resolved. The system of State-funded places has, in his opinion, been totally compromised and has proven its inefficiency. They say that young specialists often can’t find a job after completion of such state commissioned education. He is also critical of the lack of clarity over the powers and form of existence of the structure which is supposed to replace the current State Accreditation Commission.

He is, however, optimistic that such issues can be resolved since all decisions are now being taken by a working group with members of civic society.

Mykhailo Kamenev, one of the leaders of the Regional Initiatives Foundation does not share Oleksandr’s optimism. He says that his organization and some others which took part in the 2010 student protests were removed from work on the draft law, whereas it was to a large extent thanks to their protests that progress has now been made and some of the repressive measures proposed have been discarded.

From a report here

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