Ukrainian universities do not take part in global rankings. The reason is quite simple – the paradoxical structure of universities, implemented by the Soviet government in the early 1920s, still holds sway: academic research takes place outside universities.
Research is formally conducted within the institutes of the National Academy of Sciences, while the university is reserved for teaching.
The Ministry of Science and Education considers university researchers’ publications in peer-review journals as an example of their international activity, rather than as the academic achievements of the higher education institutions where they work.
Minister of Education and Science Dmytro Tabachnyk thinks the main reason for Ukrainian universities’ non-presence in global ratings is their laziness and unwillingness to fill in the necessary application forms.
Top 200 Ukraine
Under such conditions, a home market in university rankings has developed in Ukraine. It should be noted that almost all of the rankings have a good reputation. The closest to global rankings in terms of academic criteria is the Top 200 Ukraine.
It is drawn up by the UNESCO department working at the Kyiv Polytechnics. The methodology presupposes estimating professors’ and teachers’ research achievements, the quality of the educational process, websites and international recognition.
Universities participating in the ranking fill in application forms, and the organisers also compile information from accessible official sources. Both estimation of total verifiable indexes and expert opinion are taken into account.
The Compass Ranking questions employers, experts and graduates. The sociologically based research methodology is openly available on the Compass website. It measures how competitive a degree from a particular university is in the labour market and how much cooperation there is between higher education institutions and employers.
The Compass Ranking includes professions that, in the organiser’s opinion, are vital to the general competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy. They are business-economic professions, law, engineering and technical specialisations, information technologies, architecture and construction.
Money Magazine Ranking
The Money Magazine Ranking estimates the number of university graduates with degrees in economics, law, humanities, engineering and technical specialisations based on employers’ opinions.
First, a list of higher education institutions that turn out graduates in the abovementioned fields is drawn up, and then the list is sent to leading employers. The employers rank the list using a 10-point grading scale.
This ranking pays special attention to specialists in the humanities, although most other projects of this kind normally ignore them.
It is worth mentioning that employers do not agree on the professional value of university diplomas. Some of them state that the only thing they take into account is an applicant’s ability to work effectively. Others acknowledge that a university diploma can cast a positive and sometimes a negative light on an applicant.
The Correspondent Magazine Ranking
The popular magazine Correspondent ranks the best Ukrainian higher education institutions by questioning human resource managers at the best Ukrainian employers and comparing this with the views of relevant companies.
The ranking covers the following specialisations: law, economics and finance, marketing, PR and advertising, humanities, engineering and technical professions.
Like all the other independent national ratings, Correspondent magazine ranks higher education institutions both in different specialisations and institutionally, taking into account complex indexes.
The Focus Magazine Ranking
The best educational programmes at Ukrainian universities are considered by this ranking. It is based on educational projects with foreign universities and programmes linked to leading Ukrainian companies.
They also take into account the number of foreign professors and teachers hired by universities, as well as training opportunities in Western partner universities or Ukrainian companies.
The Kyiv Post Ranking
The Kyiv Post, which is published in English, ranks companies in different fields of business every year. Its list also includes a ‘Best MBA’ nomination for business education. Its methodology is based on internet voting, which is then examined by an expert group. The experts can give their own opinions, which can sometimes change the results of the online vote.
http://Osvita.ua – A consolidated ranking
The http://Osvita.ua site is a consolidated ranking of Ukrainian higher education institutions.
This ranking summarises data from three other rankings: Top 200 Ukraine, Compass and Webometrics – all of them with their own criteria.
The consolidated ranking offers a general ranking of Ukrainian universities and four sub-rankings: best ‘classic’ universities; best private institutions; best institutions in Kyiv; and best institutions in the Ukrainian regions.
There are several prominent characteristics of Ukrainian university rankings.
First, there is no clear understanding of the fact that Ukraine can no longer ignore global competition. The phenomenon of brain drain is the clearest argument against home rankings.
Second, the market for university rankings in Ukraine grew in response to the needs of a particular time. Ukraine needed to have objective information about its universities. Although the abovementioned rankings differ in their methodologies and their levels of scientific rigour, the Ukrainian public trusts them. That is because all of them are independent.
Third, repeated attempts by the government to allow the Ministry of Education to have exclusive rights to rank Ukrainian universities take us back to the Soviet days of centralised control over academia. Such a ranking would not be independent and so would not win any trust from society.
Fourth, Ukrainian university rankings have a considerable influence both on the labour market and on the academic community. Higher education applicants and their parents increasingly take them into account.
University rankings have become a part of the media discourse on educational issues. While Ukraine keeps following an isolationistic policy in higher education, they provide a balance sheet of quality in higher education institutions.
* Serhiy Kvit, a prominent commentator on educational issues, has been rector of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy since 2007. From 2002-07 he was dean of the social studies faculty. He founded the Kyiv-Mohyla School of Journalism in 2001 and became president of the Media Reform Centre set up to initiate open debate and promote more transparent media and government. He served as chair of the Consortium on University Autonomy from 2005-10. Kvit has published several books and numerous articles. He has a PhD from the Ukrainian Free University in Munich and also holds a doctorate in philology. He was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to Ohio University in the US, a Kennan Institute scholarship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship at the University of Cologne.
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