Image - Vinnytsia National Medical University students. Image - Lviv Polytechnical Institute class (1970s).

Institute (інститут; instytut). An institution of higher learning offering programs of study in particular disciplines, with the right to confer undergraduate, professional, and graduate degrees. (For information on research institutes, see Scientific research institutes as well as articles on the individual institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine).

Separate higher schools with the status of ‘institutes’ began to emerge in Russian-ruled Ukraine in the 1870s and became the dominant type of postsecondary institutions in Soviet Ukraine. The areas of specialization and types of the institutes historically have included: agriculture, arts and culture, aviation, construction, economics and trade, forestry, law, machine-building, medicine, metallurgy, military, mining, pedagogy, polytechnics, printing, radio electronics, shipbuilding, and sports. In independent Ukraine, after 1991, most of the institutes have been transformed into other types of higher educational institutions, such as universities and academies.

Institutes in the Ukrainian lands in the Russian Empire. The first schools with the name ‘institute’ in Russian-ruled Ukraine were institutes for daughters of the nobility, which were essentially closed finishing schools for privileged girls. They were the first secondary schools for women in Ukraine. Their purpose was to give secular education primarily to daughters of imperial nobility, including orphans or those coming from impoverished families. For the latter education was tuition-free, while the daughters of merchants and other classes were expected to be self-funded. Such institutes were established across the empire, including a few Ukrainian cities, such as Kharkiv (1812), Poltava (1818), Odesa (1828), Kerch (1836), and Kyiv (1838). The languages of instruction were primarily Russian and French, and the curriculum included such subjects as literature, history, and foreign languages.

The first institutes that provided higher education were of pedagogical type. The so-called ‘pedagogical institutes’ initially were established within the existing universities—at Kharkiv University (1811) and Kyiv University (1834)—where they functioned more like boarding schools for those intent on becoming secondary-school teachers rather than as separate higher learning institutions. In 1858 these pedagogical institutes were abolished; they were replaced in 1860 with pedagogical courses for students who already completed a university program. With the implementation of the new university reform of 1863 these pedagogical courses were liquidated in 1867, which resulted in a shortage of qualified teachers for secondary schools. As a way to address this shortage, in the 1870s the government opened a few separate pedagogical or teachers' institutes, essentially closed boarding schools: in Hlukhiv (1874), Teodosiia (1874), and Nizhyn (1875). Hlukhiv Teachers’ Institute, for instance, offered a three-year course for training teachers for urban elementary schools and secondary schools. The Nizhyn Historical-Philological Institute named after Prince Oleksander Bezborodko was a successor to the famed Bezborodko Lyceum in Nizhyn (est in 1820). The institute taught classical languages, Russian language, and history and its main goal was to train teachers of these subjects for secondary schools. The program also included courses in psychology and pedagogy. In the early twentieth century several new teachers’ institutes were established across Ukraine. At least two such institutions were founded in Kyiv, one private and the other state-funded. The Fröbel Pedagogical Institute in Kyiv (1907) was named after the famous German pedagogue Friedrich Fröbel and was a private two- (later three-) year higher pedagogical school for women, which trained preschool teachers. In 1909 the Russian government opened a teachers’ institute in Kyiv that was to train male teachers for urban elementary schools. By 1917 teachers’ or pedagogical institutes in Russian-ruled Ukraine were opened in Hlukhiv (1874), Teodosiia (1874), Nizhyn (1875), Kyiv (1907 and 1909), Katerynoslav (1910), Vinnytsia (1912), Mykolaiv (1913), Poltava (1914), and Chernihiv (1916).

In the late nineteenth-century Ukraine, as the need for highly-skilled experts in various fields of knowledge grew, higher education began to expand beyond the three existing imperial universities and a few teachers' institutes to include a number of specialized institutes, both private and state-funded. One of the earliest was Kharkiv Veterinary Institute, opened in 1873 on the basis of a higher veterinary medicine school that had been created in 1851 out of the veterinary school of Kharkiv University (est 1839). It was followed by several higher technical and specialized schools, such as Kharkiv Technological Institute (1885), Kyiv Polytechnical Institute (1898), and Katerynoslav Mining Institute (opened in 1899 as Katerynoslav Higher Mining School, transformed into an institute in 1912). In the early twentieth century two commercial institutes that trained professional cadres for the burgeoning private sector opened in Kyiv (1906/1908) and Kharkiv (1912/1916). Characteristically, Odesa, a major commercial center, had a commercial school named after tsar Nicholas I (est 1861), but it never received the status of a commercial institute (partly due to its faculty’s opposition to the notorious Jewish quotas for students that the change of status would have involved). There were also several women’s medical institutes that largely evolved from the medical departments of higher courses for women : in Kharkiv (1910), Kyiv (1915) and Odesa (1910, although here the higher medical courses for women were not transformed into a separate institute). The medical department of the Higher Courses for Women in Katerynoslav (1916) was reorganized into Katerynoslav Medical Academy in 1920. In 1915 the agricultural institute in Novo-Aleksandriia (now Puławy, Poland) was evacuated to Kharkiv and reorganized into the Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (later Kharkiv Agricultural Institute).

Typically, the institutes, in contrast to the nobility-dominated universities, were much more democratic in terms of their student body, catering primarily to the educational needs of women, ethnic minorities (especially Jews), and lower social classes that had little or no access to the universities and other elite schools. The institutes were also much more attuned to the market demands, serving as a major source of technical professionals, financial experts, female doctors, and teachers for the fast-developing economy and the society in transition.

Institutes during the Ukrainian Revolution. In the wake of the February Revolution of 1917, several new universities and higher schools appeared in Ukraine, among them the Katerynoslav Polytechnical Institute (1917, also known as Katerynoslav Jewish Scientific Institute), Odesa Agricultural Institute (1918), Katerynoslav Higher Pedagogical Institute (1918), and the Ukrainian Teachers’ Institute in Zhytomyr (1919). The reforms particularly affected the existing teachers' institutes, which were now viewed as institutions of specialized higher education, and not merely as transitional schools of general education situated between gymnasiums and universities, as it had been the case prior to 1917. The successive Ukrainian revolutionary regimes carried out the policy of Ukrainization (although it met with opposition from faculty members in many existing higher schools). Most institutions of higher learning were radically transformed after 1920, as the Bolsheviks took control of Ukraine.

Institutes in Soviet Ukraine before the Second World War. When the Bolsheviks established their power in most of Ukraine, they carried out a major overhaul of the educational system, which affected every level of education, from elementary schools to higher education. Designed by Soviet Ukraine’s People's Commissar of Education Hryhorii Hrynko (1920–3) and amended by his second deputy, the Estonian Bolshevik Jaan Räppo, a series of reforms known as the Hrynko System was unique to Ukraine. It presupposed the transformation of universities into a series of separate higher schools, among them institutes of people's education (INO), medical institutes, and institutes of the national economy. Thus medical faculties of universities and women’s medical institutes were turned into separate medical institutes while the faculties of law became the new institutes of the national economy (which also incorporated the former commercial institutes). Some of the newly created institutes themselves were a result of a complex merger of several separate schools. For instance, Kyiv Institute of People's Education (KINO) was created through the integration of Kyiv Teachers’ Institute, the Fröbel Pedagogical Institute, and two faculties (physics and mathematics, and philology) of Kyiv University and Kyiv’s Higher Courses for Women. A similar institutional history stood behind Kharkiv Institute of People's Education and Odesa Institute of People's Education. Most of the thirteen INOs in Ukraine, however, emerged on the basis of the existing teachers' institutes.

With the abolition of universities, new institutes became one of the two types of higher educational institutions (along with tekhnikums). The difference between these two types was poorly defined but generally the institutes trained the so-called engineers-organizers, while the tekhnikums trained engineers with narrow specializations. By 1929 there were a total of 42 institutes of different types, including pedagogical (13), agricultural (9), medical (5), fine arts (5), technical-industrial (5), socioeconomic (4), and transportation (1). There was also a special ideological institute, the Institute of Political Education (est 1929), renamed into the All-Ukrainian Institute of Communist Education (1931). All these institutes were tasked with the training of highly-skilled practitioners (albeit with administrative and organizational skills). Meanwhile, research and science were removed from higher education and concentrated around autonomous scientific research institutes, chairs, commissions, laboratories, and cabinets, many of them (164 in 1931) affiliated with the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. The number of students in all institutes grew from 27,205 in 1925 to 40,890 in 1929 and to 71,000 in 1932. Despite the proliferation of specialized higher education and its improved infrastructure, the progress was impeded by the system’s utter centralization and education’s uneven quality. The preparation level of many students was also inadequate and, as a consequence, a graduation rate was low (13.5 percent for a total of 39 institutes in 1929 instead of the expected 25 percent). The newly created institutes also lacked autonomy, and their rectors were appointed by the People's Commissar of Education. In many cases, the decisive factor was not an academic excellence of the appointed rectors, but rather their political reliability. The same was expected from faculty and students as well.

Under the Hrynko System higher education in Soviet Ukraine experienced several major social and cultural changes. First, the institutes as the backbones of higher education became much more accessible to the children of workers and peasants at the expense of the formerly privileged classes, including the offspring of civil service employees (whose highest share, 38 percent, was in INOs). By 1929 the children of workers and peasants represented 61.3 percent of students at various institutes. Second, women were finally granted full access to all institutions of higher learning, and by the mid-1920s they accounted for approximately 28 percent of the students at Ukraine’s institutes. Third, the policy of Ukrainization affected both the ethnic profile and the curriculum of the institutes. The courses in Ukrainian studies, such as the history of Ukraine, Ukrainian language, literature, and economic geography were made compulsory for all institute students. Between 1925 and 1927 the knowledge of Ukrainian became a condition for admission to postsecondary institutions or for graduation. Yet, the progress of Ukrainian-language instruction at the institute level was much slower: by 1929 only 14 out of 42 institutes offered instruction fully in Ukrainian, with further 23 offering both Ukrainian and Russian classes. Regarding an ethnic composition of the institutes, Ukrainians were still underrepresented among both students and faculty members. In 1929 they accounted for 56 percent of the 40,890 students at institutes (with Jews representing 23.3 percent and Russians 15.8 percent). Ukrainians made up the largest percentage of students in agricultural institutes (73.6 percent), followed by INOs (64.9 percent); by contrast, their share was the lowest (40.2 percent) in technical-industrial institutes. In 1925 only one-third of the teaching staff in the institutes self-identified as Ukrainians. Although the institutes were underfunded, by 1929 Soviet Ukraine had a higher per capita enrollment in higher education than Soviet Russia.

Between 1929 and 1934 the system of higher education in Ukraine was reorganized once again in line with that in the rest of USSR. In 1934 ‘classical’ universities were restored in Kyiv (Kyiv University), Kharkiv (Kharkiv University), Odesa (Odesa University), and Dnipropetrovsk (Dnipropetrovsk University), and the remaining institutes (polytechnical institutes, pedagogical institutes, medical institutes, etc.) assumed a more defined role as institutions of higher specialized education (while tekhnikums were downgraded to the status of secondary specialized schools). In contrast to universities that offered theoretical training in a variety of academic disciplines, institutes offered more practical training in one particular area (such as construction or metallurgy) or in a set of related areas (as in the case of polytechnical and medical institutes). Some of the oldest and reputable institutes, such as Kyiv Polytechnical Institute, Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute, Odesa Polytechnical Institute, or Dnipropetrovsk Mining Institute, were also subjected to various reorganizations in the 1920s and the 1930s, giving rise to a number of other technical institutes while losing their well-established identities and the very names in the process. It was not until after the Second World War that polytechnical institutes were restored in Kyiv (1944), Odesa (1945), and Kharkiv (1949).

Institutes in Soviet Ukraine after the Second World War. During the postwar decades, the institutes continued to be the dominant type of higher educational institutions in Soviet Ukraine (other types being universities, conservatories, and academies). Most institutes in Ukraine were under the direct control of the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education in Moscow, with the exception of pedagogical insitutes, medical institutes, and art schools. For a few years, at the height of Nikita Khrushchev’s decentralization drive, a republican Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education oversaw Ukraine’s higher educational system between 1955 and 1959, but thereafter the newly established central Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education exercised control over most of the higher schools in Ukraine. This increased centralization signaled the end of liberal policies associated with the Thaw. As a result, in 1965 only 50 of the 132 higher educational institutions in Ukraine remained under the republic’s jurisdiction, but even those institutes that belonged to other ministries (such as medical schools) continued to use the republican resources provided by the local ministry of education. Yet, Moscow’s influence was decisive in a variety of matters. Postgraduate programs in particular could be established in the republic only with Moscow’s permission. Another notable postwar development was the spread of distance- and part-time education as a response to a labor shortage and as a way to allow students to obtain higher education without leaving the workforce (in 1946 it was introduced in 76 higher schools, followed by 26 more by 1957). The 1950s and the 1960s saw a trend to consolidate narrow specializations and train specialists with wider skills, which led to the decrease in the number of higher schools: from 160 to 135. At the same time, there was a marked increase in the number of students (from 201,500 to 417,700) and faculty members, albeit on a smaller scale (from 14,500 to 24,700) between 1950 and 1960. In later years, institutes continued to experience a shortage of instructors as the class sizes kept increasing (63,500 instructors to 854,000 students in 1989). Despite this shortage, there were more scholars with highest academic degrees (candidates and doctors of sciences) in higher education than within the research institutions of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. Most institutes were closely integrated with the corresponding industries and branches of economy, which helped finance scientific research conducted by the faculty through a practice of ‘cost accounting’ (hosprozrakhunok). However, due to the structural limitations inherent in Soviet administrative system and command economy, the institutes in Soviet Ukraine were often short of necessary funds and lagged behind their Western peers when it came to the development of innovative sciences and technologies, such as microelectronics, information technology, and biotechnology. Generally, institutes were engaged in applied science and technology in contrast to universities and research institutes of the Academy of Sciences that favored basic or pure science.

Three dominant types of institutes in postwar Soviet Ukraine included pedagogical institutes , polytechnical institutes , and medical institutes. Pedagogical institutes had been the higher-level pedagogical schools since the early 1930s. Their number increased from 20 in 1940 to 32 in 1968, but decreased to 29 in 1989. Yet, a total enrollment increased dramatically: from 15,860 in 1940 to more than 171,000 in 1989. Unlike most other higher schools, pedagogical institutes were placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education of the Ukrainian SSR. Their program of study lasted 5 years for the training of teachers in 38 specializations. In 1984 pedagogical education was reformed: new majors and material resources were added and by 1985 Ukraine’s pedagogical institutes had 154 faculties and 714 chairs (compared to 144 and 632 respectively in 1981). Polytechnical institutes trained engineers in a variety of fields of industry and technology, such as machine building, radio electronics, instrument engineering, metallurgy, energetics, chemical engineering, mining, applied material science, petroleum industry, transportation, construction, and others. By the mid-1980s Soviet Ukraine had 7 polytechnical institutes (Lviv Polytechnical Institute, Kyiv Polytechnical Institute, Odesa Polytechnical Institute, Donetsk Polytechnical Institute, Vinnytsia Polytechnical Institute, Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute, and the Ukrainian Correspondence Polytechnical Institute in Kharkiv) with a total enrollment of around 130,000 and 2 industrial institutes (in Kherson and Dniprodzerzhynsk). The largest polytechnical institutes had more students than any other educational institutions in Ukraine (Kyiv Polytechnical Institute had more than 31,000 students, Lviv Polytechnical Institute, 27,000, and Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute, 25,000 in 1985). Most polytechnical institutes had branches or satellite campuses in other cities. Finally, medical institutes—the third most common type of institutes in Ukraine—were placed under the direction of the Ministry of Health of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1985 there were 14 medical institutes: Kharkiv Medical Institute (est. 1920), Kyiv Medical Institute (1920), Odesa Medical Institute (1920), Dnipropetrovsk Medical Institute (1920), Vinnytsia Medical Institute (1921 as a pharmaceutical institute), Donetsk Medical Institute (1930), Simferopol Medical Institute (1931), Lviv Medical Institute (1939), Ivano-Frankivsk Medical Institute (1945), Chernivtsi Medical Institute (1944), Luhansk Medical Institute (1956), Ternopil Medical Institute (1957), Zaporizhia Medical Institute (1959 as a pharmaceutical institute), and Poltava Medical Institute (1968 as a medical stomatological institute)—as well as Kharkiv Pharmaceutical Institute (1921), Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology (1934), and the medical faculty at Uzhhorod University. Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Dnipropetrovsk medical institutes had been established on the basis of the faculties of medicine of local universities (and in some cases by incorporating women’s medical institutes). Unlike the courses of study at other institutes, medical studies consisted of a six-year program. In the 1984–5 academic year over 56,000 students were enrolled at the various medical institutes in Soviet Ukraine. Postgraduate medical education in Ukraine could be obtained at the Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, and Kyiv (see Kyiv Institute for the Upgrading of Physicians) institutes for the upgrading of physicians.

In general, in the late 1980s there were 146 institutions of higher education in Ukraine (including 10 universities), with around 854,000 students majoring in 400 subjects. Yet, the number of students per 10,000 people in Ukraine (165) was notably lower than that in the USSR overall (174). Ukraine had made great strides in trying to close that gap. The number of people with higher education in Ukraine grew considerably during the 1980s: from 2,766,000 in 1979 to 4,149,000 in 1989. Likewise, the percentage of people in Ukraine aged 15 and older that completed higher education grew from 6.14 percent to 12 percent during the same decade. But immediately after the collapse of the USSR Ukraine was ranked ninth among 15 former Soviet republics for the number of specialists with higher education per 10,000 people.

As for the geographical distribution of the institutes during the postwar decades, they tended to concentrate in large industrial cities, such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Donetsk (in 1958 four of these cities—Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Lviv—housed half of Ukraine’s higher schools and 59 percent of all postsecondary students), but thereafter this geographical distribution became more diverse, having spread beyond large cities and industrial regions. Nevertheless, the territorial distribution of institutions of higher learning in Ukraine remained very uneven until the end of Soviet rule. For instance, as late as 1983–4 five oblasts outpaced all the other ones with respect to the number of both institutes and students: Kharkiv oblast (21 of 146 such institutions for all of Ukraine and 15 percent of the enrollment), the city of Kyiv (18 institutions and 17 percent of enrollment), Odesa oblast (15 and 10 percent), Dnipropetrovsk oblast (12 and 9 percent), and Lviv oblast (12 and 8 percent). It was not surprising that these five oblasts included five of Ukraine’s six oldest universities (the sixth being Chernivtsi University). The most popular fields of study in the mid-1980s were education (pedagogy) and culture (between 15 and 20 percent of all students); economics (13 percent); and machine building and tool building (12 percent). These data, however, reflected not the preferences of the aspiring students but the educational priorities set by the Soviet government. According to official reports, in 1985, 30 percent of students were dissatisfied with their chosen major (meanwhile, a change of major or an acquisition of a second degree were discouraged). Some limited reforms were introduced between 1987 and 1990, which included an emphasis on practical classes (seminars and discussions) instead of lectures; a closer collaboration between institutes and industrial enterprises; wider use of computers; more academic freedom for the most advanced students; and an abolition of the least popular majors and faculties.

The following list shows the distribution of Ukraine’s institutes by specializations (the data are from 1988–9): engineering and construction, 40; education, 32; medicine, physical culture, sport, 18; agriculture, 17; transport and communications, 10; economics and law, 10; arts, culture, and cinema, 9.

Virtually all institutes were state-funded, and the government controlled their curriculum, planned enrollments, and guaranteed employment to their graduates. Among the worst ills afflicting institutes in Soviet Ukraine, which became especially acute in the late 1970s, was ideological pressure from without (felt especially in the humanities and social sciences), the orientation towards Soviet military-industrial complex (in case of polytechnical and technical schools), underfunding and lack of autonomy, excessive specialization, the unresponsiveness to the real needs of society, and the increasing Russification of higher education across the board (by the late 1980s a vast majority of classes in Ukrainian institutes were taught in Russian, and more than 90 percent of textbooks used in those classes were published in Russian). Russian remained the official language of records management in Ukraine’s Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education until the spring of 1989. The institutes in Soviet Ukraine did not immediately enjoy the fast-expanding opportunities and freedoms in the wake of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika. Under the tenure of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) Volodymyr Shcherbytsky (1972–89 in office), an orthodox communist opponent of Gorbachev’s, Soviet Ukraine was considered one of the most conservative republics of the USSR and often referred to as ‘the preserve of Stagnation.’ It was not until 1990 that the new principles of ‘democratization’ and ‘humanization’ became the guiding policies in Ukraine’s higher education.

Institutes in Ukraine after 1991. On the eve of Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991 there were around 157 higher schools in the country (a vast majority of them institutes). Their territorial distribution and concentration of students remained highly uneven in the early 1990s. Several oblasts and the city of Kyiv continued to attract the majority of all students: Kyiv (16.8 percent), Kharkiv oblast (14.7 percent), Dnipropetrovsk oblast (8.6 percent), and Odesa oblast (8.6 percent). At the same time, several regions had disproportionally low share of students: Kyiv oblast without Kyiv (0.7 percent), Transcarpathia oblast (0.9 percent), Zhytomyr oblast (1.1 percent), and Volhynia oblast (1.2 percent). As in the Soviet period, institutions of higher learning were subordinate to different ministries: Higher Education (100), Agriculture and Foodstuffs (20), Health (15), Culture (10), Youth and Sport (4), Foreign Economic Relations and Trade (3), Communication (1), Cooperative Union (Ukoopspilka) (2), and State Railway Administration (2). There were few fundamental changes, however. The new Law on Education (1991) established four levels of accreditation for educational institutions, with the third and fourth reserved for institutes, conservatories, and universities. This process was supervised by the Intersectoral Republican Accreditation Commission. Institutes now belonged to the third and fourth levels of accreditation and were permitted to train ‘specialists’ (while the universities trained ‘masters’), define their own curriculum, and open their own colleges and learning centers. Higher schools were also permitted to admit students on the basis of contracts with enterprises and private individuals, thus greatly benefitting from the legalization of fee-paying education. Finally, the law enabled schools of various types of ownership—state, communal, and private—to operate on an equal footing. With a growing economic crisis and structural changes in economy in the 1990s there was less demand for highly specialized technical training and other vestiges of Soviet educational legacy. During the 1990s Ukraine was also undergoing a transition from Soviet industrial economy and totalitarian political system to a globalized post-industrial economy and democracy. As a result, this transitional period saw a massive reorganization of specialized institutes into universities, an opening of many new state and private schools, and an introduction of new fields of study, such as economics, business, management, computer science, information technology, social sciences, and the humanities into numerous old and new institutions. Instead of engineers and industrial managers—the staples of the Soviet higher education—the newly independent country needed specialists in public administration, business, and service sector.

There were several reasons behind a ubiquitous transformation of institutes into universities in the 1990s. First, it was a need for more comprehensive curriculum to satisfy the market demand for new professions, which made many former Soviet institutes, often narrowly specialized, obsolete. Second, a considerable symbolic value and prestige were attached to the name ‘university.’ Finally, the university status, along with the fourth level of accreditation, entailed better funding and more autonomy.

Several specialized institutes became ‘new’ universities still before Ukraine officially declared independence. Among the earliest examples was Kharkiv Automobile and Highway Institute (after 1991 Kharkiv State Automobile and Highway Technical University; now Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University) and Kharkiv Pharmaceutical Institute (after 1991 Ukrainian Pharmaceutical Academy; now National Pharmaceutical University). The majority of the existing institutes were transformed into universities and academies already in independent Ukraine, usually by adding a new curriculum to the old one. Such was an example of ‘state pedagogical institutes’ that became universities, among them Subcarpathian in Ivano-Frankivsk (1992; now the Subcarpathian National University), Volhynian in Lutsk (1993; now Volhynia National University), Cherkasy (1995; now Cherkasy National University), and Kherson (1998; now Kherson State University). Some other pedagogical institutes were reorganized first into ‘state pedagogical universities’ and then into ‘state universities,’ dropping their pedagogical status altogether: Mykolaiv (2002; now Mykolaiv National University), Kamianets-Podilskyi (2003; now Kamianets-Podilskyi National University), Nizhyn (2004; now Nizhyn State University), and Zhytomyr (2004; now Zhytomyr State University). These former pedagogical institutes, together with the ten older universities that had been established before 1991, and a few new schools, such as the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, are known in Ukraine as ‘classical’ universities. Meanwhile, a number of polytechnical institutes and specialized technical institutes were reorganized into ‘technical universities’ (although some of them retained the phrases ‘polytechnical institute’ or ‘polytechnic’ in their new names). For instance, Lviv Polytechnical Institute became State University ‘Lviv Polytechnic’ (1993; now Lviv Polytechnic National University), Odesa Polytechnical Institute became Odesa Polytechnical University (1993; now Odesa Polytechnic National University), Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute became Kharkiv State Polytechnical University (1994; now National Technical University «Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute»), Khmelnytskyi Technological Institute became Technological University of Podilia (1994; now Khmelnytskyi National University), and Kyiv Polytechnical Institute became National Technical University of Ukraine ‘Kyiv Polytechnical Institute’ (1996; now Kyiv Polytechnical Institute National Technical University of Ukraine), etc. Most of these higher schools have been granted the national university status in subsequent years.

In 1995, after the initial massive wave of transformations had passed, the number of state-funded higher schools (of third and fourth levels of accreditation) largely stabilized for the next decade: 72 institutes, 45 technical universities, 30 academies, and 14 classical universities. In addition, there were 90 institutions of higher education of all four levels of accreditation in private and communal ownership.

Such a large number of higher educational institutions—most of them newly founded or reorganized—have continuously attracted criticism. In particular, critics point out that in many cases the change of a name and a status (from an institute to a university) has not brought anything radically new to the school’s quality of teaching and research. If anything, the academic standards in many schools have lowered significantly due to the lack of funding, experienced faculty members, and strategic vision on the part of the university administration. A number of new universities were created by different ministries without consultations with the Ministry of Education. Many also reflected rectors’ ambitions and their being in favor with the local authorities or particular ministries. Local administrations and different ministries wanted to have their ‘own’ universities and academies. Ukraine’s presidents, too, used higher education as a means of gaining more political leverage: by turning an institute into a university, by founding a new one, or by granting the ‘national university status’ they sought an electoral support in a given city or region. As a result, the number of institutes decreased drastically: from 136 in the late 1980s to 72 in 1995 to 59 in 2017, as dozens of institutes, including their regional branches were upgraded to the fourth level of accreditation as universities and academies. Many institutes that currently exist are themselves new creations, either upgraded from tekhnikums or privately founded after 1991. Institutes can also function as structural parts of larger schools (universities and academies), integrating particular chairs, laboratories, and research centers into complex units that combine teaching with research.

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Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was written in 2022.]

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