Higher education [вища освіта; vyshcha osvita]. The highest level of formal schooling in academic, professional, or technical fields, which is accessible only to students who have completed a secondary education. The origin of higher education in Ukraine can be traced back to the confessional colleges that arose in the period of religious strife (16th–17th century). The colleges organized by the Jesuits served as a model for similar Orthodox and later Uniate schools. According to their standard curriculum, which consisted of three lower grades (infima, grammar, and syntax) and two intermediate grades (poetics and rhetoric) and required six years to complete, these schools were institutions of secondary education. Yet some of them offered courses belonging to the higher grades (philosophy, requiring three years, and theology, requiring four years) that were typical of academies. The Jesuits established a number of such higher colleges in Ukrainian and Belarusian territories: in Vilnius (est 1570, academy from 1578), Lviv (1608), Orsha (beginning of 17th century), Brest (first quarter of the 17th century), Pynsk (1633), Ostroh (1624, added philosophy in 1636), Vitsebsk (ca 1640), Dorohychyn (1661), Minsk (ca 1650, added philosophy and theology at the end of the 17th century), and Kamianets-Podilskyi (1611, added philosophy at the end of the 17th century). A full higher education could be obtained by Ukrainians only at the Jesuit-run academy in Lviv (1661–1763), Vilnius, Zamość (see Zamostia Academy), or Cracow. Despite its name, the Ostroh Academy (est ca 1580 by the Orthodox Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky) did not offer a higher education. The only Orthodox college that provided a partial higher education was the Kyivan Mohyla College (est 1632). In spite of a royal prohibition (1635), philosophy and theology courses were offered at the school on an irregular basis until philosophy and theology grades were permanently established as part of the curriculum in the 1680s. It was only in 1701 that the school was recognized officially as an academy (see Kyivan Mohyla Academy). Among the numerous Uniate colleges run by the Basilian monastic order only a few—in Zhyrovichy, Buchach, and Volodymyr-Volynskyi—introduced some courses of the higher grades in the 18th century.

The first university in Ukraine—Lviv University—was founded in 1784 by Emperor Joseph II. The language of instruction was Latin, but literary Ukrainian (Ruthenian) of the period was used in the Studium Ruthenum, a special institute of the university for educating candidates for the Uniate priesthood. The German character of the university was underlined when German was adopted as the language of instruction in 1817. During the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy the Ukrainians won some concessions in university education: a Ukrainian chair in the Department of Theology was established in 1848 and the first Chair of Ukrainian (Ruthenian) Language and Literature was set up in the following year. In 1849 and 1860 the central authorities declared their intention to convert Lviv University gradually into a Ukrainian institution. Two Ukrainian chairs were set up in the law department in 1862. Under strong political pressure from the Poles, however, the central government eventually abandoned this policy: in 1871 it recognized the university as a bilingual institution by replacing German with Ukrainian and Polish as the languages of instruction, and in 1879 it approved the Polonization of the university, by accepting Polish as the language of the institution’s internal administration. Although a few other Ukrainian chairs were established, the population’s educational needs were not met and by the turn of the century the Ukrainians in Galicia demanded their own university. The broad campaign for a separate Ukrainian university persisted for many years and erupted occasionally into violence. Finally, in 1912 the Austrian authorities promised to establish a Ukrainian university, but were prevented from doing so by the First World War.

In Russian-ruled Ukraine a number of university projects were drawn up in the 18th century. Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky in 1760 proposed to establish a university in Baturyn. Under Catherine II Ukrainian deputies to the Legislative Commission of 1767–9 demanded that a university be founded in Kyiv or Pereiaslav. The nobility of the Sumy region and the Chernihiv region collected funds to build universities in their respective capitals. Prince Grigorii Potemkin fostered a plan to open a university in Katerynoslav. The first university in Russian-ruled Ukraine was finally established in Kharkiv in 1805 (see Kharkiv University). The project proposed by Vasyl Karazyn became a reality as a result of his persistent efforts and the generosity of the local nobility. Although the language of instruction was Russian, as in all higher schools in Russian-ruled Ukraine, the university became the home of the Kharkiv Romantic School and played an important role in the Ukrainian cultural renaissance and national awakening in the 19th century.

In 1820 the Bezborodko Gymnasium of Higher Education, later known as the Nizhyn Lyceum, was opened in Nizhyn. Its nine-year program was more demanding than that of a secondary level and compared favorably with that offered by Russian universities.

Kyiv University was founded in 1834 in place of the abolished Kremianets Lyceum whose Polish student body had taken part in the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1. Mykhailo Maksymovych, a pioneer of Ukrainian ethnography, literary studies, and history, served as the university’s first rector. The first generation of students was predominantly Polish. Eventually, Ukrainians and Russians formed a majority.

The origins of higher technical education in Ukraine date back to 1844 when the Lviv Higher Polytechnical School (now Lviv Polytechnic National University) was opened. The Farming Academy in Dubliany (est 1855) was the only higher agricultural school in Western Ukraine before the First World War. In Russian-ruled Ukraine the veterinary school of Kharkiv University (est 1839) was reorganized in 1851 into an independent, higher veterinary medicine school, and then in 1873 into the Kharkiv Veterinary Institute. A number of higher technical schools were founded in the late 19th century: the Kharkiv Technological Institute (1885), a commercial institute in Kyiv (1896; see Kyiv Commercial Institute), the Kyiv Polytechnical Institute (1898), and the Katerynoslav Higher Mining School (1899). 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).

In 1863, during the period of liberalization under Alexander II, the universities were granted limited autonomy (election of rectors and professors, reduction in administrative surveillance), concessions that were revoked in 1884. During this period another university was established in Ukraine: the New Russia University (later Odesa University), formed in 1865 out of the Richelieu Lyceum, which until 1837 was a secondary, rather than a higher, institution of learning. In Austrian-ruled Ukraine a German university with a Chair of Ukrainian Language and Literature was established in Chernivtsi in 1875 (see Chernivtsi University).

Higher education became accessible to women only in the second half of the 19th century (see Education of women). In 1870 the Russian Ministry of Public Education permitted women to attend public lectures, and special courses began to be organized for them. The Higher Courses for Women were set up at Kyiv University in 1878, but were closed down by the authorities in 1885. The situation improved only after the Revolution of 1905: private higher schools for women were opened in Kyiv; the Higher Courses for Women at the university were revived in 1906 and were renamed the Saint Olha’s Women’s Institute in 1914; and similar private schools appeared in Odesa in 1906 and in Kharkiv in 1907. Professional education for women was available at women’s medical institutes in Kyiv (1910), Kharkiv (1910), Odesa (1910), and Katerynoslav (1916), and at the Froebelian pedagogical courses in Kyiv and Kharkiv. From 1906 to 1909 women were permitted to attend universities.

After the Revolution of 1905 the question of university courses in Ukrainian studies was raised, but the authorities, supported by Russian faculty, prohibited any instruction in this field. The Russian system of higher education in Ukraine was elitist. In 1914 there were only 27,000 students attending 19 institutions of higher learning, and most of them were from the nobility.

After the February Revolution of 1917, new higher schools appeared in Ukraine: the Ukrainian People's University in Kyiv, a commercial institute in Kharkiv and Kharkiv Conservatory, the Odesa Agricultural Institute, the Ukrainian State Academy of Arts, and the Ukrainian Pedagogical Academy in Kyiv. At the same time existing higher schools began to be Ukrainianized and chairs of Ukrainian language, literature, the history of Ukraine, and legal history were set up at existing universities. In 1918 the Ukrainian People's University was transformed by the Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky’s decree into the Ukrainian State University of Kyiv (while Saint Vladimir University remained Russian), and new universities were set up in Katerynoslav (now Dnipro National University), Simferopol (Tavriia University, now Tavriia National University), and Kamianets-Podilskyi (Kamianets-Podilskyi Ukrainian State University). At the same time the Ukrainian Historical-Philological Faculty in Poltava and the Ukrainian Teachers' Institute in Zhytomyr were opened.

When the Bolsheviks came to power Ukraine’s people's commissar of education, Hryhorii Hrynko (1920–3), abolished the universities, transforming them into institutes of people's education (INO), to which a number of newly created teachers' institutes were added. Among the administrative changes were the reorganization of the medical faculties of universities into separate institutes and the absorption of the faculties of law by the new institutes of the national economy. Tekhnikums, which in Ukraine, unlike in Russia, were higher technical schools, trained narrow specialists in various technical fields. Institutes were devoted exclusively to teaching, while research and the preparation of scholars and scientists were the responsibility of autonomous scientific research chairs. Many subjects were taught by the laboratory-brigade method, which precluded individual testing. This system of higher education, known as the Hrynko System, was unique to Ukraine.

In Soviet Ukraine, institutions of higher education lacked any autonomy. Rectors were appointed by the people's commissar of education, and often their political credentials, rather than academic qualifications, were decisive. Access to higher education was made difficult for people of ‘non-labor origin’; nonetheless, 43 percent of the students attending institutes were offspring of white-collar workers. Candidates seeking admission to higher educational establishments had to produce references from Party, trade unions, or Communist Youth League of Ukraine organizations. Workers' faculties (robitfaky) were established to prepare students of worker or poor peasant origin for admission to higher education.

During the 1920s an effort was made to Ukrainianize higher education. The first step was to introduce courses with Ukrainian content: Ukrainian history, Ukrainian language, literature, and economic geography became compulsory for all students. The second step was to introduce Ukrainian as a language of instruction. By 1928, out of 38 institutes, 11 offered instruction only in Ukrainian and 24 in both Ukrainian and Russian, and out of 126 tekhnikums, 46 offered instruction only in Ukrainian and 34 in both Ukrainian and Russian. Beginning in 1925, a knowledge of Ukrainian became, in many regions, a condition for admission to higher education or for graduation. By 1927 these requirements applied to all higher educational establishments in Ukraine.

Ukrainians were underrepresented among students of higher education. In 1928 they accounted for 54 percent of the 33,400 students at institutes (Russians represented 16 percent, Jews 25 percent), 63 percent of the 26,900 students at tekhnikums, and 53 percent of the 9,800 students at workers' faculties. Women accounted for approximately a quarter of the enrollment at institutes. In 1925 only a third of the teaching staff in institutes and 43 percent at tekhnikums gave Ukrainian as their nationality. The lack of Ukrainian-speaking faculty and hostility to Ukrainian among Russian teachers stymied the Ukrainization process. In addition to these difficulties, the Ukrainian system of higher education did not receive the financial support that the Russian system did from the all-Union budget. In spite of this, by 1929 Ukraine had a higher per capita enrollment in higher education than Russia and its rate of growth was faster than in Russia.

Between 1929 and 1934 the system of higher education in Ukraine was reorganized to conform with that in the rest of the USSR. Most institutes (technical, economic, agricultural, medical) were transferred from the jurisdiction of the People's Commissariat of Education (NKO) to that of appropriate commissariats, leaving only pedagogical institutes and art institutes under the NKO. Tekhnikums in 1928 were transformed into either institutes or specialized secondary schools (see Secondary special education). In 1934 Kyiv University, Kharkiv University, Odesa University, and Dnipropetrovsk University were restored. The institutes of social education, of vocational education, and of political education, into which INO’s were divided in 1930, were transformed into pedagogical institutes. The laboratory-brigade method was abolished and traditional requirements and teaching methods were restored. Programs, textbooks, and examinations were standardized. University and institute chairs resumed research activities that had been confined to special research chairs.

With rapid industrialization in the 1930s, higher educational facilities were expanded greatly to meet the needs of industry. The number of institutions of higher learning increased sharply from 42 in 1929 to 173 in 1940 (including correspondence courses), and the student population expanded from 40,890 to 196,800. The preferential admission of working-class and poor peasant students to higher education was gradually abandoned as the quality of graduates was stressed. Even tuition fees, a prerevolutionary practice favoring the children of the elite, were instituted from 1940 to 1956. In 1936, 44 percent of university students were offspring of white-collar workers; 40 percent, of workers; and a mere 13 percent, of peasants. In 1933 Ukrainization was halted and the Ukrainian faculty and student body of higher educational institutions were purged. As a result the proportion of Ukrainian students dropped from 55 percent in 1933 to 53 percent in 1935. The proportion of Ukrainian research staff declined from 49 percent in 1929 to 31 percent in 1934, while the proportion of Russians increased from 30 to 50 percent. Many leading Ukrainian scholars perished during the Stalinist terror of the 1930s. A concerted effort was made to promote Russian language and subjects in higher education (see Russification).

After the First World War the Polish authorities in Galicia abolished the Ukrainian chairs at Lviv University (even Ukrainian philology had to be taught in Polish), and restricted the admission of Ukrainian students. As a result the Lviv (Underground) Ukrainian University was established in 1921. In 1922–3 the Lviv (Underground) Ukrainian Higher Polytechnical School with a one-year curriculum was opened at the underground university. Harassed by Polish authorities and refused recognition by the Polish government, the university dissolved in 1925. Talks on the establishment of a Ukrainian state university collapsed when the Polish authorities rejected Lviv as a possible location and the Ukrainians rejected Stanyslaviv or Cracow. The Greek Catholic Theological Academy in Lviv (est 1928) was the only officially recognized Ukrainian institution of higher learning in interwar Poland. Chairs of Ukrainian studies existed at Polish universities in Cracow and Warsaw, in addition to one at Lviv University.

After the First World War a number of Ukrainian organizations abroad founded the Ukrainian Free University in Vienna in 1921. Having received recognition and financial support from the Czechoslovak government, it was transferred to Prague. Another higher school, the Ukrainian Husbandry Academy (est 1922), operated in Poděbrady until 1935, when it was transformed into a correspondence school—the Ukrainian Technical and Husbandry Institute. Both schools were evacuated to Munich just before the arrival of the Soviet Army in 1945. The Ukrainian Higher Pedagogical Institute in Prague was supported by the Czechoslovak government from 1923 to 1933.

After the Second World War Ukraine’s system of higher education expanded, but its accessibility to Ukrainians has remained a problem. New universities were established in the Ukrainian SSR: Uzhhorod University (1945), Donetsk University (1965), Simferopol University (1972, having been abolished in 1925), and Zaporizhia University (1985). Lviv University and Chernivtsi University, and the Lviv Polytechnic, were incorporated into the Soviet system. Except for pedagogical schools, medical schools, and art schools, the institutions of higher education in Ukraine were under the direct control of the Union Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education. A republican Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education, established in 1955 (only in the case of Ukraine), gave the republic a voice in the running of its higher educational system, but only until 1959, when the Union-Republic Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education was set up in Moscow. In 1965 only 50 of the 132 higher educational institutions in Ukraine were under the republic’s jurisdiction. Postgraduate programs in Ukraine could only be established with Moscow’s permission. It was not possible, for example, to obtain in Ukraine a doctorate in pedagogy.

At the same time pressures for the Russification of higher education in Ukraine increased. In 1954 the compulsory entrance examination in Ukrainian, but not in Russian language and literature, was dropped. Proposals to Ukrainianize higher education put forward by Ukraine’s Party leadership in 1965 were blocked by Moscow. Of the 75,027 students attending the republic’s eight universities (1965), 61 percent were Ukrainian; 56 percent of the faculty were Ukrainian, but only 34 percent lectured in Ukrainian. Almost 70 percent of the subjects taught at the universities were not supplied with Ukrainian-language textbooks. The granting of degrees was under the supervision of the Supreme Attestation Commission in Moscow, which encouraged postgraduate students to write their dissertations in Russian (from 1944 to 1960, 86 percent of the dissertations accepted at Lviv University were written in Russian). The preference for Russian in higher education meant that Ukrainian-speaking students were disadvantaged in the competition with Russian-speaking students for admission to establishments of higher education. Furthermore, higher education in Ukraine, as throughout the Soviet Union, was biased in favor of the upper strata of society. In 1965, for example, 70 percent of first-year students at Kharkiv University were the offspring of white-collar workers; 23 percent, of workers; and only 7 percent, of collective farmers. Since Ukrainians were underrepresented in the upper stratum, this bias further restricted access to higher education for Ukrainians. As a result, although in 1956 Ukrainians accounted for 64 percent of the enrollment in higher educational institutions in Ukraine, in 1971 they accounted for only 60 percent. There is evidence of outright discrimination against Ukrainians: a secret instruction issued in 1974 restricted the admission of local students to institutions of higher learning in Western Ukraine to 25 percent of the freshman class. The percentage of women among students increased from 47 percent in 1970–1 to 54 percent in 1983–4. Under Nikita Khrushchev’s regime (1955–64) institutions of higher education were consolidated and their number decreased. Higher education ‘that did not lose contact with production,’ ie, evening and extramural education, was promoted. This policy led to a decline in the quality of graduates and was reversed in 1964, after Khrushchev’s fall.

The territorial distribution of institutions of higher learning in Ukraine was very uneven. The major centers in 1983–4 were Kharkiv oblast (21 of 146 such institutions for all 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). The specializations that attracted the largest number of students were (in 1983–4): education (pedagogy) and cultural studies, 15 percent; economics, 13 percent; and machine building and tool building, 12 percent.

In 1984–5 Ukraine had 16 percent of all higher educational institutions and 16.6 percent of the total number of students in the USSR. At the same time Ukraine represented 18.5 percent of the USSR population.

There are two Ukrainian universities outside of Ukraine: the Ukrainian Catholic University (Rome) in Italy (est 1963) and the Ukrainian Free University in Munich. The former, however, does not have the right to confer doctoral degrees. In Canada, the United States of America, Australia, and Europe courses in Ukrainian studies are offered by many universities. A number of Ukrainian research institutes exist as integral parts of national university systems.

Titov, Kh. Stara vyshcha osvita v Kyïvs'kii Ukraïni kintsia XVI–pochatku XIX st. (Kyiv 1924)
Savych, A. Narysy z istoriï kul'turnykh rukhiv na Ukraïni ta Bilorusi v XVI–XVIII v. (Kyiv 1929)
Krylov, I. Systema osvity v Ukraïni (1917–1930) (Munich 1956)
Vyshcha shkola Ukraïns'koï RSR za 50 rr., 2 vols (Kyiv 1967–8)
Krawchenko, B. Social Change and National Consciousness in Twentieth-Century Ukraine (London 1985)

Mykola Hlobenko, Bohdan Krawchenko, Bohdan Struminsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

Encyclopedia of Ukraine