On November 12, 2019, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine regarding the Improvement of Educational Activities in Higher Education”,

which prohibits the foundation and functioning of territorially separate structural units of higher education institutions in Kiev, Kharkov, Lviv , Dnieper and Odessa. The structural units in these cities, operating on the date of the entry into force, should be reorganized or suspended until July 1, 2021 by decision of higher education institutions or their founders.

Such unreasonable and unjustified regulations provoked indignation of representatives of higher educational institutions and students, since they limit the right to choose an educational institution and place of study, which is a violation of the constitutional right to education, prescribed in Art. 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine. In addition, this is a direct limitation of the basic principle of educational institutions financing.

The forbiddance on the creation of geographically separate structural units contradicts the basic principle of higher education institutions - to meet the needs of the regional labor market in relevant specialists and to approach the place of study of higher education applicants to their place of residence. Within the current economic conditions, cost of living, restrictions of the scholarship funding, for many students studies in another city can be financially impossible.

In this connection, the government should take measures aimed at ensuring the accessibility of higher education, while the prohibition of the activity of structural units, on the contrary, is aimed at restricting the right to choose a higher education institution. The members of the Odessa Regional Council of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions decided to address to the Ukrainian Government with a request to protect higher educational institutions from destruction.

Ukrainian market of educational services is oversaturated with universities, many of which do not meet licensing conditions, do not have the proper base and high-quality teaching staff.  The structural units with 20-30 students provide the educational process only through distance learning, and students are recruited due to unreasonably low cost of education. These institutions only create a negative image of the educational sector and do not provide training of competitive specialists. Graduates of such educational institutions cannot find jobs in their field. In this regard, the main attention should be paid to the quality of educational services and conditions.

Especially it concerns Kiev, the spiritual, historical, scientific and educational centre of Ukraine. Higher educational institutions should contribute to the development of international cooperation in the field of education, science,  implementation of academic mobility programs along with guaranteed employment of graduates. The concentration of central executive entities, other government bodies, international organizations and institutions creates the conditions for cooperation between educational institutions, introduction and commercializing of scientific developments.

The prohibition of the creation and operation of territorially separate structural units of higher education institutions in Kiev, Kharkov, Lviv, Dnipro and Odessa, stipulated by the Law No. 2299, is based only on the factor of geographical location, that is unacceptable. This prohibition should not be applied to higher education institutions structural units which have a developed material and technical base, powerful teaching staff and a contingent of at least 700 full-time students.

In this regard, a number of People Deputies of Ukraine made several amendments to the draft Law No. 2299 stipulating the quantitative criterion, allowing to create and operate territorially separate structural units of higher educational institutions in Kiev, Kharkov, Lviv, Dnieper and Odessa with less than 700 full-time students.

Moreover, the mechanism for state order distribution between universities that has been applied in recent years do not meet the interests of human capital development, since they completely ignore regional needs, applicants needs, the ability of educational institutions to provide educational services, and leading higher education institutions are deprived of students, and Ukraine is deprived of specialists.

In the course of admission, foreign applicants have more favorable conditions than Ukrainian citizens. In accordance with the Terms of Admission to higher education institutions, approved by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, external assessment is not provided for foreigners and stateless persons.

The institutions of higher education in the Odessa region had a hope that the present composition of the Ukrainian Parliament along with the educational community would organize a wide and in-depth discussion of the consequences of the higher education reformation and would determine its development strategy for the coming years.

But instead, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the bill. At the same time, the preparation period for second reading was shortened. Consequently, in contrary with European practice, education and academic authorities cannot participate in it.

At the same time, representatives of Odessa higher education institutions state that this bill poses significant threats to the stability of higher education and may lead to gross violation of the rights and interests of applicants.