Contextualizing the Development of Ukrainian Higher Education: Between Soviet Legacies and European Regionalization


  • Nataliia Zakharchuk University of Saskatchewan



This paper contextualizes the development of Ukrainian higher education in broad historical, geopolitical, and socio-economic realities. The author argues that these realities determine the current Ukrainian education trajectory. Higher education reforms in Ukraine are analyzed in the context of two major influences: European regionalization and inherited Soviet structures in education. Particular focus is placed on the Bologna Process, the European education initiative to standardize higher education in Europe. Soviet organizational and administrative principles are outlined and analyzed as the second influence that determines Ukraine’s unique educational developments.

A brief overview of higher education reforms in Ukraine notes the distinctive changes in the legal framework between 1996 and 2014. Ukrainian education reforms within this period are viewed from the perspective of the Bologna Process, a series of voluntarily agreements between European countries to establish a common European Higher Education Area to retain the regions’ influence and competitiveness. Contesting voices regarding the European-associated education reforms range from unquestionable support (Europhiliac) to absolute rejection (Europhobic). Such contesting voices reflect the Ukrainian society’s broader understanding of its complex educational challenges. The author argues that public concerns about reforms in Ukraine initiated with the Bologna Process, originate in the nature of the reforms, the Ukrainian educational system and its foundational principles, public stereotyping of the reforms, and the unstable political situation in the country.


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Author Biography

Nataliia Zakharchuk, University of Saskatchewan

PhD Candidate in the Department of Educational Administration, University of Saskatchewan.