Higher education in conditions of reform; changes in public opinion
From December 2-12, 2016 the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with Ukrainian Sociology Service firm conducted a nationwide sociological survey “Education in Ukraine” on issues of the state of education, corruption in education and the attitudes of citizens to the External Independent Testing (EIT). A total of 1,808 respondents were surveyed by the quota of national random selection of the population, which by sex, age, type of home and oblasts represents the population of Ukraine (18 years and older). The survey was conducted in all oblasts of Ukraine and the city of Kyiv, besides the occupied territory of the Donbas and the annexed Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
The maximum random margin of error of the survey (not taking into account the design effect) does not exceed 2.5% with a probability of 0.954.
For comparison the results of surveys conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in collaboration with the Ukrainian Sociological Service in October 2015, December 2014 and 2015 are provided.
The attitude of the population to the system of higher education in Ukraine
- The main positive feature of higher education in the public opinion is that it provides solid professional and ideological knowledge (45% and 51% of the surveyed agreed with this respectively, while 32% and 27% of the respondents disagreed). However, the negative aspects are predominant: only 26% of the population agrees with the assertion that higher education in Ukraine offers the opportunity to find a decent job (56% disagree). Similarly, 26% of the respondents feel that higher education offers all equal opportunities to study for free, 58% of the surveyed disagree). The split in public opinion of whether or not higher education offers the most capable and talented people the chance to realize themselves is as follows: 43% of the respondents agreed with this assertion, while 37% disagreed.
- Studying abroad. Slightly more than one-fourth (27%) of the population would like to study abroad (in 2015 this number was 39%) and only a third of the surveyed would want to send their children to study abroad (in 2015 this figure was 45%). Noteworthy is that the number of those that would not want to send their children to study abroad (33%) prevails over the number of those who would want to but do not have the required financial wherewithal (28%).
- Tuition in Ukrainian higher learning institutions is too high according to the overwhelming majority of the respondents (65% in 2016 and 64% in 2015 and 2014).
- Approximately one-third of the respondents noted that the most serious problem with higher education in Ukraine this year is the corruption of the teaching personnel in high schools (37%, in 2015 this figure was 50%), the non-recognition of diplomas conferred by Ukrainian high schools in other countries of the world (34% versus 47% in 2015), the non-compliance of teaching standards with the requirements of the labor market (32%, the same as last year) and the weak material technical base of high schools (32%, in 2015 – 27%).
- Priority measures for the improvement of the quality of higher education, in the public opinion, should be: the fight against all manifestations of corruption and dishonesty in HLI (bribes, writing off course papers and diplomas, etc.) – 44% (in 2015 – 59%), stimulating academic activity in high schools (39% versus 32% in 2015), raising teachers’ salaries – 37% (in 2015 – 38%), establishing cooperation with the best universities in the world – 35% and greater connection of teaching with the requirements of future professions – 33% (in 2015 – 37%).
The attitude of the people towards admission to high schools based on the results of the External Independent Testing (EIT) system
The population stably supports the system of admission to high school through External Independent Testing. The answers of no less than 57% of the surveyed this year (in 2015 only 52% supported this system), while 22% do not support such a system (in 2015 – 23%) are testimony to this.
- The predominant majority of the population gives a positive assessment of the influence of the EIT system on certain aspects of the educational process and social life in general. For example, the absolute majority of the surveyed agrees that the EIT puts all in equal conditions (63% agree, 22% disagree), the EIT stimulates pupils to study instead of relying on someone’s help (63% agree, 20% disagreed). The EIT system gave the possibility of gifted students to enter any high school, even the most prestigious ones (59% agree, 21% disagree) and the EIT gives high school the possibility to choose the best students (55% agree, 25% disagree). In addition, the relative majority of the surveyed feel that the EIT reduced the level of corruption during admission to HLI (48% agree, 29% disagree).
- The highest level of corruption, in the public opinion, exists in the evaluation of knowledge during entrance exams to high schools (51%), further: entrance exams for a master’s degree or the level of a specialist in high school (44%) and graduation exams of the state final examination in schools (37%). The respondents believe the entrance to high school based on the results of EIT is the least corrupt (25%), while last year this figure was considerably higher (34%).
Regarding the existing problems with the implementation of EIT the surveyed most often expressed their doubts about the honesty of compliance with the set testing procedures (36% versus 40% in 2015). If to consider the possible variants of improving the system of admission to high school based on EIT results, the surveyed most often noted the need to better prepare school students for taking exams (43% versus 40% in 2015).