Monitoring of the public participation in the higher education governance
(Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova)
The project aimed toward monitoring the public participation in the management of higher education in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova through a comprehensive analysis of the institutional and administrative practices in the leading institutions of higher education, the main regulatory documents, the activity of students, teachers, parents, as well as relevant civil society organizations (NGOs). The project was implemented during the period of August-December 2015 under the auspices of the Agency for Social and Political Expertise / Independent Bologna Committee (Lithuania / Belarus) in cooperation with its partners - the Fund “Institute for Education Development” in Ukraine and the Institute of Social History “ProMemoria” in Moldova.
The report elaborated by the experts of the Independent Bologna Committee points out that in the Republic of Belarus the Code of Education, adopted in 2011, does not attempt to bring out the education from the milieu of administrative power relations and to set off recognition of an autonomous and independent status of the educational process’ subjects. The Code does not operate with terms as social partnership, institutional autonomy and academic freedom. The report says that “for a large part of the higher education’s stakeholders there is a need for serious development of educational legislation, that still preserves the backwardness of the Belarusian system of higher education. [...] The legislative framework comes into increasing conflict with the objectives of higher education reforms, encouraging legal nihilism and administrative arbitrariness.”
In conclusion, the experts of the Independent Bologna Committee noted that “the characteristic feature of the Belarusian education system is statism, encouraging the constant interference of the state in the relationship of the participants within educational process. Not taking responsibility for decent education funding or the creation of conditions to attract private investment, the government, however, does not give up to restrict and mediate the relations of interest groups, of higher education stakeholders.” In the conditions of higher education system’s crisis, the Belarusian authorities are not willing to decentralize management of higher education. The Ministry, through the Code of Education, has taken care to preserve all rules to stop up even timid hopes for a strengthening of the autonomy and freedom of academic communities.
The report of the Ukrainian side, elaborated by the Institute for Education Development, states that today higher education in Ukraine is in a period of transition. The new Act of Higher Education, entered in action at 1 September 2014, started a new stage of reforms in this direction. However, the National Council of Reforms indicates the fact that many aspects of the reform still remain without proper legislative support, creating the so-called regulatory gaps. Also, the report mentions about cases when the legislation if often implemented in practice with obvious disabilities. In accordance with Article 42 of the Act of Higher Education, every institution of higher education, regardless of their form of ownership elect rectors through direct elections by secret vote, ensuring the participation of teaching staff (at least 75% of the total electorate), academic and administrative staff (not more than 10%) and students (not more than 15% of all voters). Thus, since the autumn of 2014, were conducted over 40 direct election of rectors, including major universities (“Taras Shevchenko” National University of Kiev or the Aviation Institute of Kharkov), that it is relatively new practice in Ukraine. Under the new law, universities also have the right to change their organizational structures, educational institutions and the creation of separate research and innovative enterprise or industrial activity. Personnel policy is fully within the competence of higher education institutions, except for the problem of the minimum wage, which is determined by the state.
Adopted in 2014, the Code of Education in the Republic of Moldova established the legal framework of modernization of education system in accordance with the principles of the Bologna Process and the strategies of education modernization 2020. The key-aspects of the new Code were about strengthening the autonomy of higher education institutions and the fortification of control on the part of collective management structures. University autonomy is the right of the university community in the organization and self-government for the implementation of academic freedom without any ideological, political or religious interference on the scope of the administration, teaching and research activities, financing. In order to achieve these possibilities, the consiliums of strategic and institutional development were created within the structure of higher education institutions. The new regulations specified the functions and competence of the student government.
In the Republic of Moldova there are active student organizations, university student government bodies that represent and defend at the university and inter-university level the interests of the student community. The main problems faced by the student organizations relate the issues of official registration process in order to get official status of the student government at the national level; the lack of financial support from the university; the lack of an established mechanism for government programs to support students’ associations; and the inability of non-registered organizations to access and / or draw funds of international programs.
In practice, as in the regulations acts, there is no provision of the Board of Trustees in the frame of higher education institutions. Boards of Trustees may become an additional tool in the organization and improvement of the educational process, development of material and technical base of educational institutions, attracting extra-budgetary resources, the organization of sports, cultural, recreational, tourist and excursion activities.
The Moldovan universities do not use the practices and regulatory documents concerning the activities of the parent organizations / associations. Most often, they operate on a voluntary basis, on the basis of the statute of NGOs or public funds in the field of primary and secondary education.
The authors of the report on Moldova offer the following recommendations:
The central authorities:
• to expand and refine the regulatory framework of democratization processes in the field of higher education and the role of social partners and stakeholders in the management bodies of higher education
• to create the necessary conditions and administrative mechanisms for cooperation of higher education institutions with civil society organizations
The management bodies of higher education:
• to plan the allocation of a separate annual budget for the activities of the student government
The central authorities and universities:
• to create a legal framework for the establishment of boards of trustees, as one of the structures of higher education governance
• to introduce a wider practice and create a detailed legal framework for cooperation with parent organizations / associations and their participation in decision-making and management bodies of higher education.
*This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Agency for Social and Political Expertise(Lithuania)/ Institute of Social History (Moldova) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.