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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

University consortia, a way to the future

Ostroh Academy shares its experience
7 July, 2009 - 00:00

Ostroh Academy held the fourth meeting of the Consortium of Ukrainian universities and the University of Warsaw, which was set up in 2005. Now the consortium includes eight universities, so the high-ranking participants who came to Ostroh represented the University of Warsaw, Volyn National University, Ternopil Pedagogical University, Chernivtsi National University, Transcarpathian National University, Kamianets-Podilsky National University, and Zhytomyr State University. Poland’s Consul General in Ukraine Tomasz Janik was a guest of honor.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science recently raised the issue of optimizing the structure of higher education institutions in this country. If universities become larger through mergers, this will increase their competitiveness. The leading Ukrainian universities are quick to perceive the demands of time, so Ukraine has seen the creation of the so-called university consortia.

Ostroh Academy is one of the leaders in this process and was one of the founders of the Consortium of Ukrainian Universities and the University of Warsaw in 2005. Since then Ostroh has stepped up cooperation with Warsaw, offering unique exchange opportunities to the students and faculty, providing grants, setting up joint research programs, and publishing joint research works.

At the meeting this year the consortium members discussed new scholarships for study in the University of Warsaw, winter and summer schools for students, and joint conferences. Apart from the Eastern Studies, the Consortium now includes the Eastern Europe Research Center in Transcarpathian National University and the Research Center for Political Relations among Eastern Countries. Further development of cooperation will lead to programs that will offer diplomas from two universities at the same time.

Another direction of further cooperation is the introduction of a competition for a book on Ukraine-Polish relations. Ostroh Academy already has some experience of this kind of cooperation, because a group of historians worked at the university to study controversial episodes in the history of both countries.

In the framework of the Consortium an agreement was signed between Ostroh Academy, Volyn National University, Zhytomyr State University, and Rivne State Humanitarian University on forming the Greater Volyn University Association. In addition to promoting international cooperation, this will strengthen the links on the regional level.

Ihor PASICHNYK, rector, Ostroh Academy:

“The meeting of the international consortium in Ostroh Academy is one of its greatest achievements ever. We have received this kind of acknowledgment from Katarzyna Cha asi ska-Macukow, rector of the University of Warsaw: ‘We, rectors, have to admit that there are things we need to learn from Ostroh Academy. This is a new education institution that may soon turn into a leader of not only Ukrainian, but also European education.’

“This was the first time Ostroh Academy has attracted such a constellation of rectors of leading western Ukrainian universities to discuss not just certain formal issues of cooperation but specific efforts to integrate into the European education space. This cooperation requires student exchange and the setting up of joint research schools.

“For example, we discussed the possibility of creating a joint school to translate sacral texts. Ostroh Academy is the only institution that employs unique scholars who know over 17 foreign languages, including dead languages, and experts in Arab studies.

“By engaging the researchers from the University of Warsaw and obtaining access to the archives, we would be able to make available to Ukrainians some unique, hitherto unknown works dating back to the 14th through the 17th century. This is one of the important tasks that Ostroh Academy will resolve thanks to participation in the Consortium.

“Apart from this, at the meeting we agreed on student exchange and recognition of each other’s diplomas, which is direct proof of the Bologna system in action at Ostroh Academy.

“Another equally significant event was the creation of the Greater Volyn University Association. The Ministry of Education and Science keeps emphasizing the need for merging universities. I have stressed on numerous occasions that mechanical mergers will ruin the entire system. One of the prototypes for university integration is this Association set up by universities themselves.

“What is the underlying idea? After signing the agreement, we would like to request from the Ministry of Education and Science and the Higher Attestation Commission to let us create joint specialized research councils that would be considered specialized councils of the member universities.

“Apart from this, one of our top priorities is to set up joint research schools. For example, Zhytomyr University has excellent experts in history and the study of historical sources. There are certain scholars of high caliber in Volyn National University and an entire research school for the study of historical sources at Ostroh Academy. If the efforts of these scholars are brought together, we will have the most powerful research school for the study of historical sources in Ukraine. In this way we will be able to create regional universities, a topic of much debate recently, in a natural, rather than forced, way.

“If the Ministry of Education and Science and the Higher Attestation Commission grant our request, with time we will be able to set up a regional university on the basis of the member universities, except for Ostroh Academy. The Academy should never be a part of a formalized university union, because it is a special education institution that was brought into being in order to revive our history. For our people this is a sacred place in terms of spirituality and education, which would have to operate as an independent education institution with strong integration links.

“We have shown a good example. I am pleased by the fact that the agreement was signed with many rectors in attendance. The rector of the University of Warsaw noted that they are willing to join our regional alliance, because we have shown a good example of research integration not only for Ukraine, but also for Poland.”

Ihor KOTSAN, rector, Volyn National University:

“The meeting at Ostroh Academy was the fourth time when the members of the Consortium have came together. The meeting was held on a high level, with every university presenting its working program for the analysis of all participating institutions. This is a wonderful example of joining forces in order to offer high-quality educational services.”

By Viktoria SKUBA, student of Ostroh Academy