Higher education institutions and the number of students in Ukraine, 1991 – 2014

Correlation between educational institutions with higher accreditation levels and educational institutions with lower level of accreditation has changed significantly, since Ukraine became independent. While in 1990/1991 academic year there were 742 educational institutions with a lower accreditation level and 149 educational institutions of III-IV accreditation levels, in the 2013/2014 academic year their correlation changed to 478 and 325 respectively. That is, the number of educational institutions of III-IV accreditation level more than doubled.

Comparison of the number of educational institutions of I-II and III-IV accreditation levels by year

Strong demand for the prestigious university education has created a counterintuitive situation where given the economical recession of the 90-es, population decline and closure of companies requiring qualified personnel, the number of students in Ukraine has almost tripled (!) from 881 thousand in 1990/1991 years to 2 million 373 thousand in 2007/2008: The number of students in educational institutions of I-II and III-IV accreditation levels by year

Further decrease in numbers of students (followed by a slow decrease in numbers of higher educational institutions) is caused exclusively by demographics. Since 1991, birth rate declined sharply in Ukraine (from 657 thousand сhildren born in 1990 to 377 thousand born in 2001, followed by fertility increase since 2002). Year 2008 saw those born in 1991 graduate from secondary schools, and starting this year HEI’s (first less prestigious, later all of them) began facing problems due to lack of students, low competition. This meant even lower requirements for students. The result is that higher education in Ukraine is now a mandatory attribute, and a diploma does not indicate the presence of professional knowledge any more.

The situation is simply absurd. Since 2006/2007 academic year, the number of people who entered universities each year is higher than the number of those who graduated from secondary school the same year. That is, for nine years university education in Ukraine has been de facto the continuation of secondary education.

Comparison of the number of high school graduates and the number of enrolled students by year

(A small number of graduated in 2011/2012 academic year is explained by the transition to 12-year education system)

Professors and lecturers do not look at this situation from this angle, because it would mean a threat to their jobs and job of colleagues. Students shortfall threatens closure of departments and dismissal of teachers. This freezes the current state of affairs.