Higher education in Ukraine

The higher education system of Ukraine

Recent policy updates

Relevant projects and initiatives

TAMs and SPHERE seminars organised in Ukraine

Relevant links


The higher education system of Ukraine

In accordance with the Article 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine, everyone shall have the right to education.

For regulation of the higher education in Ukraine, the following legislation is relevant:

  • Law on Higher Education (2014)
  • Regulation on National Qualifications Framework (based on European Qualifications Framework for  Lifelong Learning) adopted by the Cabinet of Ministries of Ukraine (2011)
  • National Plan on NQF Implementation approved by the Cabinet of Ministries of Ukraine (2015)
  • Regulation on Academic Mobility adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (2015)
  • Decree about the establishment of the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (NQAA) adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (2015)
  • Midterm Plan on Government Priority Actions 2020 and Plan on Government Priority Actions for 2017 (2017)
  • List of Fields of Study and Program Subject Areas in Higher Education adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (corresponded ISCED 2011) (2015 and 2017 with change).

The Law on Higher Education is compatible with the Bologna Process in general and covers the following key provisions:

  • Implementation of the three cycle structure of Higher Education – Junior Bachelor (short cycle), Bachelor – Master – PhD and plus 4th or postdoctoral cycle – Doctor of Science;
  • PhD education is provided by structured education and research programmes within Aspirantura (similar to Doctoral School) at HEI or research institutions, 4 years duration (incl. 30-60 ECTS of education part within programme);
  • Determination of correspondence between educational levels, postdoctoral/scientific level (Junior Bachelor – Bachelor – Master – PhD – Doctor of Science) and levels of National Qualification Framework (5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9);
  • Implementation of ECTS (determination of education programs scope in terms of ECTS credits) and Diploma Supplement (obligatory);
  • Decrease of student workload from 36 to 30 hours in 1 ECTS credit, and decrease of maximum of teaching workload from 900 to 600 contact hours per year;
  • Development of academic mobility, provision of maintenance for job place/study place, scholarship/salary in academic mobility period;
  • University academic autonomy (development new programs incl. interdisciplinary, degree awards, recognition of degrees/diplomas, etc.), organizational autonomy (development of HEI structure, establishment of research and education institutions, innovative productive organizations, clinics, laboratories, etc.), human resources autonomy (direct elections of Rectors by secret ballot, personnel arrangements, foreign scholars and academics employment, tangible reward, etc.) and financial autonomy (international grants for research and education could be placed on accounts in public banks and not only in State Treasury, independently command budget incl. reallocation between budget items, etc.);
  • Recognition of academic degrees that were obtained abroad is provided by University Academic Council for further higher education or academic employment. Person who hold a PhD, or other PhD equivalent degrees of foreign countries in the relevant specialisation can apply for academic positions.
  • Establishment of the National Agency on HE Quality Assurance (NQAA) in the capacity of the public institution (it consists of a Secretariat and Public Council (25 individuals from different stakeholders – academics, students, employers) for making decisions on QA issues (incl. accreditation of study programs);
  • The key approaches for Quality Assurance are defined by the Law in line with Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG);
  • National Higher Education Standards (benchmark requirements for key competencies and learning outcomes within each Programme Subject Area (there are 121 Programme Subject Areas (ISCED’ Detailed Fields) in Ukraine).

Following the Recommendation of the European Commission (2006) and adoption by the European Parliament of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (2007), in 2010 the Ministry of Education and Science established a Working Group on the development of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) with participation of Higher Education Reform Experts (HERE team) and other stakeholders. In 2011, a draft NQF was submitted to the Ministry and then NQF was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

The Ukraine NQF (NQFU) is conceptually developed in compliance with the criteria of the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA) and the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF). The NQF has 10 levels and these levels define the relative complexity of the competencies by criteria expressed in Knowledge and Understanding, Skills, Communication, Autonomy and Responsibility as well as in integrated competency. The level descriptors are used as benchmarks for classifying qualifications and developing national higher education standards based on learning outcomes.

According to the Article 27 of the Law on Education, the NQFU aims at:

  • implementing the European standards and principles for Quality Assurance taking into account the labour market demand for professional competencies;
  • ensuring harmonization of the legislation in education, in social and labour relations;
  • promoting national and international recognition of qualifications acquired in Ukraine;
  • establishing effective interaction between education and the labour market.

Higher education is governed by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Ministry of Education and Sciences of Ukraine. Operation of higher education institutions, both state and private, is monitored by the Ministry of Education and Science and competent authorities. Any higher education institution has to receive a special permit (license) from the Ministry of Education and Science under the established legislation in order to provide educational activity.

The Cabinet of Ministers decide on the education strategy and priorities, supervise implementation of the Law on Higher Education and the relevant legislative acts and documents, and make certain proposals on the development of the budget and funds for higher education as well as regulations for scholarship and salary payment. The Midterm Plan on Government Priority Actions by 2020 determines the purpose, objectives, and mechanisms for the development of Ukraine’ higher education system in line with the Agreement for EU-UA Association. Particularly the Midterm Plan includes Quality Assurance system development and recognition of NQAA as an EQAR member (European Quality Assurance Register).

The Ministry of Education is the central executive body governing the education system of the country. It participates in the development and implementation of the state policy for higher education.

There are public higher education institutions under other authorities (President Administration, Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine, Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and others).


Recent policy updates

The National Quality Assurance Agency (NQAA) has started self-organisation activities in 2016-2017 (Secretariat was formed; Head and five Deputy Heads were elected; list of NQAA elected members and leadership is submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for further final approval).

According to the Law on Higher Education, the Higher Education Standard is a set of benchmark requirements for the content and results of the educational activities of the higher education institutions and the research institutes at each higher education level within each Programme Subject Area.

The Ministry of Education and Sciences of Ukraine has formed Scientific and Methodical Council and Sectoral Scientific and Methodical Commissions (SMCs) in 2016. Each SMC consists of experts in the relevant Program Subject Area, which represent HEIs from all over Ukraine. The key objective of SMCs is the development of higher education standards according to the Law of Ukraine on Higher Education and EHEA approaches (Tuning project, ESG, etc.).

SMCs under the Ministry intend to develop higher education standards for each Programme Subject Area (ISCED’ Detailed Field), taking into account the proposals of sectoral public authorities, industry associations and employer organisations’ experts. On January 2017, 130 draft higher education standards were developed (102 Bachelor and 28 Master levels). Recently, the first draft higher education standard on Cybersecurity was approved by NQAA.


Relevant projects and initiatives

The HEREs team representatives are among the active members of the national working group on development of Draft Law of Ukraine “On Education” in line with European integration process and they contributed to other relevant legislative and guiding documents (e.g. Regulations on PhD education implementation, on Academic Mobility in line with Bologna process, etc.).

HEREs prepared a useful resources data-base on key publications and Ukrainian translations of the EHEA documents to be used for modernization of higher education.

HEREs in cooperation with representatives of the Ministry and HEIs prepared Methodical Guidelines for Higher Education Standards Development in line with new Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education” and ESG 2015, approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine in 2016.

HEREs provide methodical expertise of draft standards (47 expertise done) in accordance to Methodical Guidelines for Higher Education Standards Development and other EHEA documents (ESG, Tuning, etc.).

In 2016 Tempus & Erasmus+ Structure Projects outcomes were distributed into Clusters in line with key HE reform areas: Quality Assurance system development, NQF implementation and study program modernisation, PhD study development, Lifelong Learning, University Governance in context of Autonomy and Student Support, Integration of Higher Education, Innovation and Research, Business (Knowledge Triangle), Higher Education Internationalisation and Mobility. In addition, projects were assigned to HEREs as Curators.

NEO-Ukraine in cooperation with the HERE team and the Ministry introduced regular Cluster Meetings / Workshops on Outcomes of Tempus & Erasmus+ Projects. National Cluster Meetings / Workshops on the priorities of higher education reform with participation of projects teams, HEREs and other stakeholders are organised by NEO-Ukraine in cooperation with the Ministry to exchange best practice, develop and improve national higher education policy, as well as to identify priorities for Erasmus+ Program calls.  Each Cluster event focuses on key Bologna tools and EHEA approaches. Based on findings of the Cluster Seminars, recommendations for Higher Education reform (national and institutional levels) and for the projects teams are developed, also to maximize the national impact of project outcomes.

QUAERE (Erasmus+, 2015-2017), Quality Assurance System in Ukraine: Development on the base of ENQA Standards and Guidelines – the project team in cooperation with the Ministry are conducting a national survey on QA issues for the preparation of an analytical review and assessment of the national higher education system in the light of the ESG.

QANTUS (Tempus, 2013-2017), Qualifications Frameworks for Environmental Science at Ukrainian Universities – Sectoral Qualifications Framework (SQF) for Environmental Science (for three cycles) and its outcomes were presented and discussed at a meeting of the Ministry’s Scientific and Methodical Council and Sectoral Commission for HE standards development in the context of the preparation of standards for Ecology; a guide for SQF development was placed on the project site; proposals for improvement of draft standards for Bachelor and Master levels were send to the SMC.

ALIGN (Tempus, 2013-2017), Achieving and checking the alignment between academic programmes and qualification frameworks – Mechanisms for HEIs to achieve alignment of academic programmes (Competences and Learning Outcomes) with NQFs were developed, and appropriative modernized programs are under pilot accreditation of EU QAA – project partners, training courses on Learning Outcome assessment in line with NQF are developed.

LeAGUe (Tempus, 2013-2016), Network for Developing LifeLong Learning in AM, GE, UA – Recommendations for Lifelong Learning (LLL) Strategy were developed and submitted to the Ministry; LLL Centres were established based at university partners in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa.

ELITE (Tempus, 2013-2017), Education for Leadership, Intelligence and Talent Encouraging – Concept for “Universities’ role in Leadership and Organizational Development” developed and presented to stakeholders incl. the Ministry; Centres of Leadership were established in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa; selection of school directors (principals) realized by certified experts at the Centre of Leadership in Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University on Order of the Kyiv Municipality; assessment of Universities’ teams at the Centre of Leadership in the Institute of Higher Education was realized in frame of University Leadership project in cooperation with the British Council Ukraine.

INOVEST (Tempus, 2012-2016), Eastern Partnership in Pedagogical Innovations in Inclusive Education – guidance for the development and implementation of professional teachers’ training programmes in Pedagogical Innovations in Inclusive Education presented on project web-site, Teacher Training programmes for Pedagogical Innovations in Inclusive Education was implemented within teacher further education system on base of Teacher Training institutes in Odessa and Kyiv, international panel on Pedagogical Innovations in Inclusive Education in cooperation with French experts.

ATHENA (Tempus, 2012-2016), Fostering Sustainable and Autonomous Higher Education Systems in the Eastern Neighbouring Area – Analytical materials (Policy roadmap, guidelines), training kits (7 manuals) on University Autonomy developed and presented on the EUA website, University Autonomy Policy roadmap was discussed in frame of National Rector’s Council of Ukraine and submitted to the Ministry.

IMPRESS (Tempus, 2012-2016), Improving the Efficiency of Student Services – Student Support Service Centres for improvement of graduates’ employment as well as for modernization of the recruitment process were established (incl. Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University as a relocated HEI), a roadmap for student self-governance development was prepared.

PICASA (Tempus, 2013-2017), Promoting Internationalization of HEIs in Eastern Neighbourhood Countries through Cultural and Structural Adaptations – a University guide for internationalization was developed and implemented on institutional level, procedures of quality assurance for University internationalization in the realm of learning, teaching and research are under development.

In 2017 the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine approved list of members of Ukraine’ Bologna Follow-Up Group including representatives of the HERE team. The Group in cooperation with HEREs and NEO-Ukraine started preparation of materials for Report on Bologna Process implementation in Ukraine.


TAMs and SPHERE seminars organised in Ukraine in 2016

SPHERE Seminar “The European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) in practice: Implications for HEIs and higher education systems”, Lviv Polytechnic National University, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine, October 19-20, 2016. The seminar offered a good opportunity to discuss the general issue of quality assurance in the participating countries, as well as to discuss the revised version of ESG. It became evident that the adaptation to the amended ESG elements varies greatly among the countries. However, it also has a number of similar obstacles and problems during the implementation phase. The seminar was much needed, first and foremost, in order to raise awareness among the countries about the details of ESG adaptation. For Ukraine the ESG seminar was especially relevant and timely due to the ongoing implementation of the higher education reform, where quality assurance has a principal place and covers new system of external quality assurance (National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) & system of internal quality assurance that has to be carried out by the universities.

Materials: http://supporthere.org/lviv2016

HERE Report: http://erasmusplus.org.ua/erasmus/ka3-pidtrymka-reform/natsionalna-komanda-ekspertiv-here/materiali-here/1408-on-lain-transliatsiia-mizhnarodnoho-seminaru-dlia-natsionalnykh-komand-ekspertiv-z-reformuvannia-vyshchoi-osvity-19-20102016-lviv.html

TAM Seminars for trainers (experts) «University QA internal systems  development in line with Bologna Process - Development of the National Quality Assurance System and QA Agency in Ukraine», MESU’ Educational Center for QA issues – Accreditation Commission, Kyiv, April 7-8, 2016. TAM trainer – ENQA expert Tove BLYTT HOLMEN (NOKUT, Norway) demonstrated a high level of competence in Quality Assurance issues. Participants got detailed and comprehensive explanation about the criteria for recognition of National QAA, description of the main principles and tools of Quality Assurance system development incl. practical examples. Therefore, participants identified and realized issues regarding QA development on universities and national levels in Ukraine, and defined key problems and ways for resolving these problems in frame of “brain storm” group work.

Materials: http://erasmusplus.org.ua/erasmus/ka3-pidtrymka-reform/natsionalna-komanda-ekspertiv-here/materiali-here/1234-zaproshuiemo-vsikh-bazhaiuchykh-na-seminar-rozvytok-natsionalnoi-systemy-zabezpechennia-iakosti-v-ukraini-vidpovidno-do-bolonskoho-protsesu-vnutrishni-systemy-zabezpechennia-iakosti-ta-natsionalne-ahentstvo-iz-zabezpechennia-iakosti-7-8-kvitnia-2016-r.html

TAM Roundtable «Higher education and research integration for enhancing quality of higher education», National Academy of Educational Sciences, Kyiv, September 22, 2016. TAM expert – Prof. Chris VAN KEER, KU Leuven demonstrated a high level of competence in research based study, Universities and Business cooperation issues. Expert prepared helpful presentations and real cases, comprehensively introduced and explained the approach to development of the relationship of teaching, learning and research, clearly described the main principles of enhancing quality of research based education using very practice. Therefore, participants identified and realized issues regarding development of teaching, learning and research in the context of Quality Assurance on universities and national levels in Ukraine, and defined key problems and ways for their solutions in frame of discussion sessions.

Materials: http://erasmusplus.org.ua/erasmus/ka3-pidtrymka-reform/natsionalna-komanda-ekspertiv-here/materiali-here/1370-mizhnarodnyi-kruhlyi-stil-intehratsiia-vyshchoi-osvity-i-naukovykh-doslidzhen-zadlia-pokrashchennia-iakosti-vyshchoi-osvity-22-veresnia-2016-r.html

TAM Annual Conference «European Integration of Ukraine’ Higher Education in the context of Bologna Process», Taras Shevchenko National University, Kyiv, November 23, 2016. Event was organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Plenary Session «University Governance in context of Autonomy and Accountability of the Universities» included presentation of TAM expert Dennis FARRINGTON and discussion on University autonomy issues. Participants discussed new approaches to HEIs governance in context of autonomy, HEIs’ legal status and regulations on higher education economics.

Materials: http://erasmusplus.org.ua/novyny/1425-v-mizhnarodna-konferentsiia-yevropeiska-intehratsiia-vyshchoi-osvity-ukrainy-v-konteksti-bolonskoho-protsesu-universytetske-vriaduvannia-u-vymiri-avtonomii-231116.html; http://ihed.org.ua/ua/resursy/konferentsiia.html


Relevant links

Governmental Portal – http://www.kmu.gov.ua/kmu/control/en/publish/

EU Support Group for Ukraine –http://www.kmu.gov.ua/kmu/control/en/publish/article?art_id=248400038&cat_id=248274610

Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine – www.mon.gov.ua

Study in Ukraine, Ukrainian State Center for International Education, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine – http://studyinukraine.gov.ua/uk/

National Erasmus+ Office in Ukraine and Higher Education Reform Experts – http://erasmusplus.org.ua/en/

National Erasmus+ Office and HERE team Ukraine – Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NEOinUkraine/?notif_t=page_user_activity&notif_id=1495117841651367