Main Features of Higher Education Internationalization in the Ukraine

Diana Kucherenko PhD of Economics, Associate Professor, Science and Research Institute for Economic Development.


The features higher education internationalization in the Ukraine are analysed along with the transformation of the Ukrainian educational system in the context of increasing integration into the European educational area.

The integration processes taking place in the global community in all spheres of human activity today also affect higher education. A single global educational environment is in the formation with increased student mobility and co-operation between universities in different countries. Over the past few decades, the development of cross-border education as a direct consequence of the increased number of enrolments in higher education and the extensive utilisation of new information and communication technologies have led to the recognition of an economy based on knowledge and the increasing internationalization of the labour market, and a growing number of private companies started to provide educational services and appear in the international market of educational services.

Analysis of recent research and publications

Scholars such as S. Hlazyev1, D. Bell2, V. Inozemtsev3, E. Tofler4 and J. Schumpeter5 analysed social evolutionary processes, the transition from one technology to another, changes in the nature of work, the information components of these processes, the quantitative models of evolutionary dynamics, changes in the system of production and the social conditions of development.

Unsolved aspects of the problem in the article

One of the most pressing problems is the reform of higher education and the creation of the international attractiveness of European education. The aim of integrating the various European higher education systems and elaborating a single European curriculum is to provide an ideological basis for Europeanization, i.e. in shaping the many different cultures into a single ethnic unit. In education, which has a leading role in internationalization, the concept was developed in the concept of a European dimension, the main task of which is the introduction to the field of education is, first of all, the modernization of the content of education at all levels. The Ukraine’s active participation in the convergence of education systems with European countries requires the development of recommendations on shaping the process under the conditions of the knowledge economy.

Presentation of the material

Scientists have identified three major trends. First, the transformation of education into a type of goods. Different estimates of this phenomenon are different – some scientists believe that education cannot apply the market principles and the logic of competition. According to these scholars, education is a public property and should be available to everyone. Others believe that the transformation of education into a commodity is one of the natural consequences of the liberalization of social and economic relations, and do not see any harm in it. The second trend is the unification of Education – i.e. the introduced educational standards, rules, content specialties, system assessment. The third one is the technologization of education. Many researchers are concerned with the decline seen recently in demand for fundamental and increase in demand for specialized knowledge. This is feared to lead to the dehumanization of not only education, but also of society.

Student mobility is encouraged by various state and regional programmes. In the past 30 years, Tempus, Socrates, Erasmus and the programmes of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst – DAAD) and the British Council have been given financial support to increase participation by higher education institutions in the promising processes of internationalization.6 The best known European programmes are Erasmus Mundus and Socrates. Erasmus was launched in 1987 to promote the creation of a single market in Europe and is related to mobility schemes such as Comet, Lingua and others set out to create a European model of higher education. Student exchange is regarded as a powerful tool of the global market and skilled workers.

In the European internationalization of higher education the most important role is played by the European University Association and the Association of Academic Cooperation. The former represents and supports higher education institutions in 46 countries. Its members are European universities engaged in teaching and research, national associations of rectors and other organizations in the field of higher education and research. The Academic Cooperation Association is an association of national organizations which supports the internationalization of higher education systems as a centre of expertise, through research and evaluation, organizes international seminars and conferences and disseminates information about new developments in European and global higher education.7 Education is also consistently on the agenda of the G8, which helped make efforts at improving education in developing countries under the global projects “Education for All” and through the “Continuing Education” mobility plan and other initiatives in this area. Previously, this topic was discussed in the context of other priorities and national issues of the G8 Members.

In June 1999, the ministers of education of twenty-nine European countries signed the Bologna Declaration, designed to develop the ideas of the Sorbonne Declaration. Its goal is the establishment of the European Higher Education Area and the worldwide promotion of the European higher education system. The Declaration is proposed to be taken as a basis for the various national education standards, recommends transparency in the European Higher Education Area, and the removal of obstacles to mobility. This way Europe can be made more attractive for students, teachers and researchers around the world and European education can be transformed into a decent alternative to other (non-European) models of higher education. In addition, another important contribution may also be made to the employment of European citizens.

Although not emphasized, the main purpose of the process is to improve the competitiveness of the European higher education system in the world (and its financial impact through students). This is an excellent example of regionalization within global processes. The mechanisms of achieving goals – such key provisions: the introduction of a tiered structure of higher education (Bachelor, Master, Doctorate); the introduction of the European Degree Supplement; the support for student mobility (through the credit system); cooperation in the field of quality education; and the development of integrated educational programmes.8

In March 2010, at the Jubilee Conference in Budapest and Vienna, the European Higher Education Area was officially announced. As a basis it relies on the 28 Member States of the European Union, with a population over 500 million. Geographically speaking, the European educational area is uniform. Forty-seven of the Top 500 universities in the world are located in 21 countries. Britain and Germany shares 41% of the total European capacity, thus making the first line in education, the second level includes France and Italy (with 18.3%) and the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland (18.3 %), while the third level is represented by Spain, Austria, Denmark, Norway and Finland (13.1%). Other countries constitute the periphery of the European educational area, with a capacity of about ten universities in Eastern and Southern Europe.9 The most relevant documents of the internationalization of European higher education were adopted on the level of intergovernmental regulation. These include:

  1. Strategy for the European Higher Education in a global context, areas not affected by the Bologna Process.
  2. Resolution of the Bologna Policy Forum (Vienna, 12 March 2010).
  3. Budapest-Vienna Declaration on the European Higher Education (12 March 2010).
  4. Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers of Education, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, 28–29 April 2009 (The Bologna Process 2020 – The European Higher Education Area in the new decade).

These documents point to the need and the opportunity to intensify dialogue and co-operation with partners in the global educational area, and with associations of teachers and researchers in international networks. However, there are a number of points that cause problems in academic mobility: these are related to the international recognition of and support to relocated students and teachers, especially regarding the provision of social security and work permits. Among the international organizations that have the greatest impact on matters related to the admission to training foreign citizens, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, and in the past decade the European Commission have leading roles.

The need to reform the education system of the Ukraine, and within that, quality improvement is the most important social and cultural problem, which is largely determined by the processes of globalization and the need to create a positive environment for individual human development and socialization. These processes are primarily required by the need to identify, harmonize and approve regulatory support to the education sector in order to meet the requirements of international and European standards and certification systems. In the Ukraine the strategic directions of development in higher education are defined by the Constitution, acts on education and higher education, the national doctrine of education development, decrees of the President of the Ukraine, and of the cabinet of Ministers. In order to successfully improve the system of Ukrainian education and its systematic and progressive convergence to the European educational area, the following priority and related tasks must be performed:

  • The state must guarantee equal access to good education for every citizen.
  • A modern and high-quality preschool, and general and vocational education must be built.
  • Efficient regulatory, organizational and economic mechanisms must be adopted for the use of resources.
  • The social status and professionalism of educators must be improved, and their state and public support must be increased.
  • Education must be developed as an open public and social system based on the division of responsibilities between educational policy actors and the participants in the educational process, namely students, teachers, parents and educational institutions.

The integration of Ukrainian education into the European educational system is an important step in the Ukraine’s adoption of the standards set by the Council of Europe. Through the modernization of education, a logical scheme may be built of pre-school, school, vocational and higher education to meet personal needs and satisfy the demands of society at the highest European standards. The attractiveness of universities for students is a complex of factors like future career, quality, the cost of tuition and accommodation, access to public services and the level of meeting European educational standards, etc. In the Ukraine obstacles to participation in higher education include inconsistencies in the mobility system, e.g. difficulties relating to obtaining visas, the economic characteristics of the country, and the difference between living standards in the Ukraine and the EU.

Today more than 61.5 thousand foreigners from 150 countries are enrolled in 186 universities in the Ukraine. Most of them come from CIS countries (33%), Asia (16%), Africa (16%), and Europe (5%). The main problem in the Ukraine is that the majority of foreign students come from the countries of the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa, and only a small part are students from Europe. This makes it clear that the Ukraine does not compete for students from Europe. Most foreign students in the Ukraine participate in medical education. Nearly 40 percent of them study medicine. The admission of foreign students in the Ukraine is regulated by statutes, mostly approving entry and stay by foreign citizens and persons for studies in the Ukraine without giving citizenship10 and stipulating that any foreigner can only participate in education against payment of tuition fees, unless otherwise provided by the laws and international agreements of the Ukraine.

An important problem waiting to be solved by the Ukrainian government is the recognition of domestic diplomas, and, consequently, the need for foreign graduates to be considered qualified or, in some cases, undertake additional training. Foreign students encounter numerous problems in relation to the language of teaching, as for them the most attractive language is English. In Germany, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark universities have English curricula. In the Ukraine this there are some problems related to the lack of relevant “for subject teachers, as they do not speak foreign languages. However, since 2013, higher education institutions offer students distance learning, which means new quality. Previously, schools were required to teach more than half of the subjects in part-time. Currently, training, examinations and tests may be fully performed electronically. Graduates are issued state certificates. It is worth noting that since 1 January 2014, all graduates of Ukrainian universities receive the European type Diploma Supplement, which was introduced in accordance with the requirements of the Bologna system. They are issued in Ukrainian and English. The availability of application will enhance the competitiveness and mobility of Ukrainian universities, in both domestic and foreign labour markets. Ukrainian diplomas will be fully recognized in the EU. At the moment, 50 Ukrainian universities are members of the Bologna Charter. Three of them, the Kiev National Taras Shevchenko University, the Donetsk National University and the National Technical University of the Ukraine Kiev Polytechnic Institute, were included in the International Ranking of World Universities (QS World University Rankings) in 2012.11

Yet the main issue in the modernization of Ukrainian higher education is not the rating of the individual schools but improving the quality of national education and its innovative development in accordance with international standards should contribute to a significant increase in the intellectual, cultural, spiritual and moral potential of the individual and society.

Main conclusions

One of the most important current global factors that are increasing in significance is the openness of educational models, i.e. the ability to respond to the challenges of our time. Integration is designed to improve the quality of European and national educational systems, to make educational services more attractive and to improve their quality of content by creating the conditions of student migration and professional exchange between teachers in order to set up channels for scientific communication. Thus, one can say, the Bologna process (similarly to integration) can be regarded as convergence to the European and the Russian educational systems.

Modern educational services tend to produce substitute products, and simultaneously increase the diversity of complementary educational products as a result of the Ukraine’s accession to the Bologna process and the single European higher education area. The development of international cooperation between higher education institutions enables the organization of joint research projects, exchange programmes for students and teachers and special programmes for foreign students. The basic form of higher education internationalization is student mobility, i.e. students studying in other countries, which is not a new phenomenon, as most European countries have had a steady stream of students from their former colonies for decades.

The main focus of increasing the internationalization of the European education market is the development of cooperation between universities, and the completion of master’s programmes to obtain double diplomas. Another area that helps intensify cooperation is the Scholarship Fund that provides scholarship exchange programmes for Ukrainians to study in the European Union and for European Union citizens to study in the Ukraine. This can be an incentive to increase demand for the reform of higher education in the Ukraine.

The internationalization of higher education is creating new opportunities in globalization, modernization and innovation, while mobility gives the fundamental character and contributes to its accessibility and quality, strengthening international cooperation in the sharing of human and non-material resources.




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  • 2. The MESU Order, 12. 08. 2003, No. 544.
  • 3. The Act of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Ukraine (CMU) from November 12, 1997, No. 1260.
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  • 7. Andrée Sursock–Hanne Smidt: Trends 2010: a Decade of Change in European Higher Education. European University Association, Brussels, 2010.
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