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Open Letter to the Minister of Education of Ukraine Dmytro Tabachnyk

Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences (UVAN) in Canada has published an open tetter to the Minister of Education and Science, Youth and Sports of Ukraine.

 

 

 

УКРАЇНСЬКА ВІЛЬНА АКАДЕМІЯ НАУК (УВАН) У КАНАДІ

UKRAINIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES (UVAN) IN CANADA

235 McGregor Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2W 4W5

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January 16, 2013

Editor, Kyiv Post

Open Letter to the Minister of Education of Ukraine

Dmytro Tabachnyk

 

 

Honourable Dmytro Tabachnyk

Minister of Education, Youth and Sports

10 Peremohy Street

Kyiv, Ukraine 01135

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Dear Minister Tabachnyk,

 

It has come to our attention that on January 3, the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA), filed a law suit at the Regional Administrative Court in Kyiv which challenges the efforts of the Ministry of Education of Ukraine to annul cross-over admissions  into Master degree level programs at its school.

 

The Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Canada supports NaUKMA’s position and wishes to remind the Minister of Education that authoritarian control of universities by political entities  such as his centralized office is contrary to the Bologna Declaration, signed in May 2005, by then Minister of Education for Ukraine, Stanislav Nikolayenko, where it states that “The envisaged European Higher Education Area will … offer broad access to high-quality education, based on democratic principles and academic freedom”, and the 2009 Prague Declaration of the European University Association (EUA) which clearly states in its preamble that “Our common vision is of autonomous  universities as dynamic, flexible institutions promoting excellence and innovation in teaching, research and knowledge transfer”.  While the March 12, 2010 Budapest-Vienna Declaration on the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) again reminds all parties of their commitment to the goals of the EHEA when they state: “We, the Ministers, recommit to academic freedom as well as autonomy and accountability of higher education institutions…”.

 

Minister Tabachnyk, your regressive efforts, we feel, will impede the excellence and creativity for which NaUKMA is known. Dictating the curriculum or admission standards for this university will stifle the ability to generate and further knowledge and scholarship. The Minister is no doubt aware that universities must be free to experiment and innovate for the benefit of humankind regardless of national boundaries, location or political ideology. Due to student career interests and global economic conditions, North American universities welcome and support graduate interdisciplinary or cross-curriculum studies and research at the Master’s and Doctoral levels.

 

The Minister is undoubtedly cognizant that Ukraine willingly joined the Bologna process and agreed to abide by this declaration.  Therefore, your Ministry has certain obligations, an international commitment,

based on an intergovernmental pledge. Rather than promised reform, we are again seeing a deliberate attempt by your office to undermine Ukraine’s European integration by non-compliance, and to completely degrade a world-class Ukrainian university – the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

 

Cambridge University professor, Ross Anderson, in a recent paper entitled “What’s academic freedom anyway?”  states that “Although Cambridge was founded in 1209 by scholars fleeing persecution… Cambridge became much more open in the mid-1510s. A critical factor was self-governance – changes to the curriculum only had to be agreed upon with colleagues, not the King”.

 

In 1918, academician Volodymyr Vernadsky, the first president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (UAN), saw the Academy as a forum for worldwide cooperation of scholars, and stressed the principle of scholarship independence: “The Academy should be beyond the influence of any governmental bodies in its internal functioning”. He stated that the scholarly system should be flexible, open to growth, and financed by the state budget, but as an institution it must be totally independent.

 

Mr. Minister, intellectual freedom and academic self- government are critical pillars for the foundation of any modern university. Oxford and Cambridge fought for these freedoms centuries ago, and are models of how an environment of academic freedom leads to the development of new ideas. If Ukraine’s universities are to be modern institutions of cultural and scientific progress, we must not only support their right to self-governance but protect and encourage their academic freedoms.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Orest Cap, PhD                                          Jaroslav Rozumnyj, PhD

President                                                    Vice-President

                                                    

 

cc.

Dr. Serhiy Kvit

President of NaUKMA

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Mr. Brian Bonner

Chief Editor Kyiv Post

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