Study in Ukraine

Study in Ukraine

Among international student markets, Ukraine is among the largest and most talented. After decades of standing in Russia’s shadow, Western institutions are gradually taking more notice of Ukraine – the largest wholly European country with nearly 5.7 million students. In addition to Ukraine’s territorial breadth and robust student population, it is also among the world’s top ten most intellectually developed nations. It ranks fourth in the world in the number of people with a higher education, and the literacy rate is 100 percent among its youngest generations. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, Ukraine ranks 31 out of 144 countries in primary school enrollment, 41st in secondary education, and 13th in higher education. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of Ukraine’s student population by type of school.

Figure 1: 2015/16 Student Enrollment in Ukraine by School Level – Study in Ukraine

Study in Ukraine

Study in Ukraine

Even though Ukraine lags behind its Eastern European neighbors in per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), its national commitment to education, measured by education spending as a percentage of total GDP, exceeds most European nations. Between 2007 and 2014, Ukraine’s total government expenditures on education ranged from 6.2 to 7.4 percent of GDP. Even during the worst of times in 2015 when education spending fell to 5.4 percent of GDP, its allocation still exceeded other Eastern European nations, where average education spending is 4.7 percent of GDP1 . Though Ukraine has a lot of catching up to do regarding total investment in education, these statistics demonstrate the cultural value the country places on education.

Like many countries of the former Soviet Union, following the fall of the Berlin Wall Ukraine’s distribution of education spending began to favor primary and secondary education. During this period, Ukraine’s secondary schools have continued to produce talented students, particularly in the areas of math and science. A new report released by the OECD ranked Ukraine’s educational system 36 out of 76 countries participating in the study. Ukraine’s ranking is highlighted by the performance of its students in international high school Olympiads. In 2016, Ukrainian students won a total of 13 medals including one gold medal, three silver medals, and one bronze medal at the International Physics Olympiad in Zurich; and two silver and four bronze medals at the International Math Olympiad in Hong Kong. A better comparative assessment of Ukrainian student performance will be available in 2018 when its high school students participate in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests for the first time. PISA is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 economies have participated in the assessment.

As Ukraine transitioned to a new funding model for education, which favors public funding for primary and secondary education, Ukrainian universities experienced a sharp decrease in funds and struggle for survival. To compensate for reduced public funding, in the 1990’s Ukrainian universities introduced tuition-based education, shifting some education costs to students and their parents. Unfortunately, universities did not invest these revenues in quality improvements (e.g. infrastructure, library resources, research laboratories, teacher salaries, etc.). Instead many focused on pumping up enrollment numbers and became “degree mills” plagued by heavy corruption. As a result, today Ukraine hosts 288 higher education institutions (more per capita than any European country), but none of them are listed among the top 400 universities in the 2015/16 QS World University Rankings®.

Given the lack of high-quality universities in Ukraine, employers report that many graduates lack the practical knowledge, and soft skills required of the workforce. According to a study of Ukrainian employers’ views on the quality of higher education4 by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute, businesses currently face a gap between university graduates’ theoretical knowledge and the actual skills required by employers. The study’s results reveal that when starting their careers 46 percent of students lack foreign language skills, 38 percent lack problem-solving skills, 25 percent lack practical professional skills, 13 percent lack management and customer relations skills, and nine percent lack analytical skills.

Leading Ukrainian and U.S. companies frequently echo this sentiment to CS Kyiv during client counseling sessions. They state that despite an abundance of theoretical math and science knowledge, Ukrainian graduates lack sales, marketing, business administration, and entrepreneurship skills. Given this mismatch between the skills supplied by Ukraine’s universities and the demands of the marketplace, it is unsurprising that CS Kyiv’s survey results show that Ukraine’s international students are most likely to choose business education programs. Internationally recognized degrees not only give graduates a chance to work in different countries, but also help them land top jobs at home.

Universities in Ukraine for international students

The combination of talented high school graduates, an uncompetitive domestic higher education system, and the unmet demand for graduates with adequate workplace skills creates opportunities for Western universities, as well as language study programs. As a result, the number of international students from Ukraine has significantly increased, albeit from a low base, since 2009. Between 2009 and 2014 the number of Ukrainian students studying abroad increased by 79 percent to reach 47,724 students studying in 34 countries. Eastern European countries lead in recruiting Ukrainian students, with the number of students choosing to study in this region jumping from 8,113 in 2008- 2009 to 23,171 in 2015. Polish programs especially appeal to Ukrainians because of low tuition costs, simple visa process, and the recognition of Polish degrees in the EU. Other education destinations that recently increased in popularity among Ukrainians include Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom (U.K.), Czech Republic, and Italy. According to the most recent Open Doors Report of the Institute of International Education, 1,551 Ukrainian students went to the U.S. to study in 2015, which is 5.9 percent more than in 20146. According to EducationUSA, 42 percent of Ukrainians studying in the U.S. pursue bachelor degrees, 41 percent enroll in master’s programs, 11 percent take optional practical training, and five percent go for non-degree programs. Check medical study in Ukraine for more details.

Study in Ukraine for international students

Figure 2: Trend in the Number of Ukrainian International Students (Full Day Programs) by Education Market

Study in Ukraine

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