Zelensky's university. What's wrong with president's idea of creating new university?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

The President signed a decree on the creation of a new university in Kyiv, which will graduate specialists to ensure the security of our state. The University will open its doors to the best graduates of Ukraine from October 1, 2023
12:12, 1 June 2021

Zelensky's university
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According to the idea, talented children who are attracted by the spheres of nanotechnology, information, and cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, as well as aerospace, energy, and biotechnology will study for free. This is an investment in the future because then graduates will work for the state. So, under the guidance of a guarantor, thanks to talented children and teachers, a "cyber-safe tomorrow" should come in Ukraine.

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At least the version of the president and his entourage sounds so poetic. But if you look at the situation from a different, unofficial angle, everything becomes much more prosaic. And the "castle in the air" announced by the president is crumbling before our eyes.

First, universities are not founded by tsarist rescript or presidential decree. Universities are created where there is a readiness of the environment, the researchers themselves, and those who are ready to work with the results of their research and experiments, to invest their funds in this. It's about business and the industry as a whole. It is in such an alliance that an environment is created where universities emerge, and the role of government structures in this process is nothing more than the provision of certain patronage.

"As far as I know, there were no such precedents for universities to be created from a" blank slate "at the request of an official or a monarch. But even if something like this happened, such examples are little known and do not make the difference. This is not the line of development of universities as a certain phenomenon," says Mykola Skyba, an expert in the field of education.

Related: Presidential University to appear in Ukraine: Zelensky signs decree

Secondly, high-quality specialists in the field are unlikely to be interested in getting a teaching position in a new university. Cybersecurity masters are in great demand in Ukraine. And since they are not out of work, it will be difficult to involve them in teaching students.

The network is already actively discussing what kind of teaching staff can "shine" a new university.

You can go the other way and invite foreign specialists. But it is not necessary to create a separate university for this from scratch. It is enough just to make certain changes to the legislation for higher education institutions.

"After all, it is not a problem for IT companies to invite a world-class specialist as a top manager, but for a university, this is a big problem. So maybe you need to start with changes in legislation, and we will see who Ukrainian universities can attract, which can generate a budget for this. to pay the market salary to such a specialist?" the expert notes.

Thirdly, there are absolutely no guarantees that, even after being educated at a presidential university, graduates will want to stay in the country. And it's not about the cost of training or the "publicity" of the educational institution. Graduates travel abroad for a different culture, experience, standard of living, salaries, quality services, various variations of employment, and much more.

This list of desirable things for many students of the country cannot be blocked by free tuition at the university under the patronage of the president. For example, it was possible to choose another, more effective route - to create an alliance with one of the well-known foreign universities. Teachers would have a chance to exchange experiences, students would be able to learn the best practices, and the Ukrainian education system would be rated even higher in the world.

The practice of university alliances is widespread in the world. In particular, to solve the problems of the city of New York, not so long ago, such an alliance was created between Cornell University in New York and the Israel Institute of Technology Technion in Haifa. It is noteworthy that for this, the mayor of the city only needed to make this intercourse possible (allocate land), but not create something from scratch.

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Moreover, it can be made even easier - to invest in existing areas at other Ukrainian universities. A number of specialties, whose students they want to teach at the presidential university, already exist at the Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv polytechnics and etc.

Also in Ukraine there is a practice of training a specialist "on the spot", when IT companies separately train personnel for themselves. For this, corporate universities and training centers are created, which then implement these solutions. This does not require a separate new university. We need adequate cooperation with those universities that already exist and need funding and development.

The new university will indeed be built from scratch on the territory of Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy. The Cabinet was instructed to organize material and financial support for the implementation of the presidential university, including on the basis of public-private partnerships. We will learn about the rest of the details not earlier than July - after the presentation of the concept of the university.

But, according to the expert, even if the project is launched, it, as a structure to serve the needs of the state, may suffer the fate of the National Academy of Public Administration under the President of Ukraine. The university was attached to the Kyiv National University named after Shevchenko since as a separate legal entity he did not prove his worth.

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