Epictetus, Greek philosopher
(Kyiv, Ukraine) Academic, political, media and civil society leaders from various countries and Ukraine met on October 7-8 at the Conference “Roads to Freedom”, held at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The ambassadors of the United States, Canada, Poland, Germany, France, Austria and the European Union attended the conference.
The conference was organized to provide a forum for discussion on the dynamics of Ukraine’s development, on achievements and problems in its educational sector, and for formulating distinct recommendations regarding reforms in higher education. At the opening of the conference, United States Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft stated, “The fate of Ukraine and its universities are intertwined…Universities cannot be barricaded. They play a leading role in society”.
The key issues proposed for discussion were:
• Principal Accomplishments and Challenges in the Foreign Policy of the European Union and Ukraine in 2010-2012
• The University as an Autonomous Center and a Factor in the Development of Civil Society
• Freedom of Research – From Dissidents to Intellectuals
• Freedom of Speech – Linking Academic Discourse with the Public Sphere
Selected General Summaries from Presentations
Vyacheslav Bryukhovetsky, Honorary President of NaUKMA
For twenty years Kyiv-Mohyla Academy has often been in opposition to government policy. But education should not be in opposition – education should work collaboratively with the nation’s government to perform its function. A dialogue is necessary with government and society, although at this time it is difficult to achieve a constructive conversation.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft
As Thomas Jefferson well understood, no country can travel the “Road to Freedom” without educational institutions that are steeped in the values of freedom and that instill the habits of mind necessary for citizens of a democratic system.
It is my great honor to be here today to congratulate Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on the twentieth anniversary of its re-establishment and to help open this conference. It is clear that the fate of this university and the fate of a free and independent Ukraine are intertwined.
Kyiv-Mohyla’s example shows that universities cannot be the impregnable citadels of learning of old – barricaded from the larger world. They must be part of the nation’s conversation, leading the rest of society forward toward a democratic and modern society and economy.
Stanislav Nikolayenko, Minister of Education of Ukraine (2005-2007)
Without freedom and democracy in Ukraine’s universities there will be no Ukraine. Quoting ancient Greek philosophers, Mr. Nikolayenko said that a nation without quality education is a nation that will become a slave to its neighbors. Ukraine will not be successful until its universities become excellent institutions of higher learning. There is a need for reform, and legislation must allow new relationships between universities, government and the business community.
William Green Miller, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (1993-1998)
Ukraine is not only geographically in Europe, it is at the heart of European history and European cultural traditions. Peace and security in Europe is critical to the U.S. For the United States Ukraine is critical. Your country should belong to the EU, and all those present at this conference support that end.
When Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was re-established in 1991, Bryukhovetsky said that he had a dream of a New Ukraine. He examined the ruins of the buildings that contained the moments of Ukraine’s history, where Ukraine’s past intellectual leaders studied and lived, where Mazepa, Vedel, Berezovsky, Lemonosov and others walked, and he committed himself to unearth the traditions of the university and to return Kyiv-Mohyla Academy to its ancient role as the center of innovation and knowledge. In this task he has succeeded in the brief period of twenty years. Kyiv-Mohyla Academy is Ukraine’s leading center of free thought with a deep commitment to morality that carries the responsibility of generations for the mission of the nation’s education. It is a great achievement for this university to believe that education can make a difference.
Based on the perspective of history and the ancestors of Chersonesos, who took an oath to democratic principles, present generations need the courage to protect democracy. Some see Ukraine’s democracy in a great danger. There is concern. The rule of law is the main basis for democracy but the rule of law has been abused to serve the purposes of those in influence. The abuse of law is unworthy of a great nation and should be corrected. Attack on the universities by government has an effect on intellectual freedom – a freedom that is absolutely necessary for the preservation of freedom in society.
Your friends admire your courage in the defense of freedom and will stand shoulder to shoulder with you to preserve that fundamental right. You have the opportunity and the ability to defend this position. Ukraine has the capacity to set the course straight. You know what to do.
Gigi Tevzadze, Rector of Ilia Chavchavadze University, Tbilisi, Georgia
The university now is a result of globalization. Modern education is e-education. It does not exist without the prefix “e”. Innovation and quality education will be developed through interdisciplinary collaboration of scientists at the global level. In today’s academic world communication is crucial.
There is a substantial difference between the interpretation of the concept “university autonomy” in the post-soviet countries and the rest of the world. Worldwide “autonomy” means autonomy from the state, the inability of bureaucracy to interfere with the essence of the educational process, with certain regulatory standards set by the government to the needs of society, but essentially, the university must have institutional freedom. This freedom is closely linked with responsibility, willingness of universities to be transparent in its activities. But in the post-soviet countries “autonomy” has a different context, it allows government interference. Thus, our main task is to move away from that blurred, post-soviet understanding of “autonomy”.
Raisa Bohatyryova, Head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine
The government is aware of the work necessary to move the country closer to EU membership. Membership in the EU may be our unifying idea with the opposition. In many ways Ukraine today is not inferior to those countries that became EU members. We understand that there are both internal and external challenges in the EU and internal and external factors n Ukraine that stand in the way of our membership in the EU. For example, economically and mentally Ukraine needs to adapt to the requirements of the “old members” of the European Union. Our government attempts to minimize the risks that impede European integration perspectives for Ukraine. Not everything depends on Ukraine, but much depends on Ukraine, and much depends on the EU.
Mykhailo Zgurovsky, Rector of “KPI”, Minister of Education of Ukraine in 2007
First of all, we must decide which model of society we must build, what is our goal. In an era of globalization, human capital is of greatest importance. The main task of education is to prepare individuals to live with the highest values and professionalism. This can be accomplished only with freedom and democracy in society and education. I wish to express my thanks to the organizers of this event for this very needed conversation.
Borys Tarasyuk, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (1998 2000, 2005-2007), Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration
The name of the conference “Roads to Freedom” is very compelling, because one road to freedom in Ukraine has been and is through Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. During the last twenty years, many of the events that shaped Ukraine took place within these walls. We celebrated the Orange Revolution in this very hall. The revival of Ukraine’s independence coincided with the resurgence of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in 1991.
One of the most successful EU concepts is the Eastern Partnership. The EU has already proved its success. The EU community is able to provide economic stability, protection and democratic standards for its citizens. But it also faces major challenges – the lack of a common security policy, the lack of common approach to energy security and the lack of a common response to the global financial crisis. Ukraine faces challenges because of its unbalanced internal politics which bring the country into international isolation. Whether Ukraine will become a member of the EU depends on Ukraine. Everyone knows of the current situation with abuse of the judicial system and the political dependence of the courts. It is a difficult situation. The image of Ukraine is affected by the current trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, the 2012 European Championship Games and the 2012 Parliamentary elections. There are challenges for Ukraine because of the unbalanced internal politics of the country and there is a threat of international isolation. I remain a Euro-optimist, but much will depend on the Ukrainian government.
Volodymyr Ogryzko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2007-2009)
I want to thank the Kyiv Mohyla Academy for this brilliant idea – the conference “Roads to Freedom”. It is significant that the conference begins with an international dimension. The principal message is that for Ukraine, the road to freedom is the road to Europe. And for Europe, Ukraine’s integration is Europe’s road to maintaining freedom. This synergy is what is needed for the creation of the European community in its entirety.
Ukraine brought upon itself some challenges on this road to Europe. Ukraine is inconsistent in its foreign policy. Ukraine made unjustified concessions to Russia that weakened our image in the world. Ukraine has not formulated an energy policy that includes Russia and Europe.
Unfortunately, Ukraine suspended its democratic reforms, and some events that occur are reminders of Soviet traditions. Great progress has been made when Ukraine was included in the Eastern European Partnership. But today we are at a crucial stage. The decision to join the European Union is the Rubicon for Ukraine, whether it will be a Eurasian or a European country. I hope the right choice will be made so that today’s young people, the graduates of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, will represent Ukraine in the European Union in the future.
Marek Siwiec, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Delegation of the European Parliament on Cooperation with Ukraine
The efforts of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy for working toward European integration and for organizing this conference about the road toward Europe are appreciated. I am honored to be involved in the policy of the Eastern Partnership between the EU and Ukraine. Do I want to see Ukraine as an EU member? My answer is yes. In my opinion, it is necessary to change the vision in relations between the EU and Ukraine. But it is time for Ukraine to do its part. Poland prepared and defined its positions to the EU. It presented a proposal for what Poland offers to the EU, not vice versa. The same should be done by Ukraine, and Ukraine’s steps in this direction must be specific.
Everyone needs to speak out about politics and universities. We do not know what will be the geopolitical architecture in the future. In this regard and other matters, universities are the intellectual centers that can help deliver the answers, they can formulate the problem and find solutions.
Father Borys Gudziak, Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv
To understand autonomy in universities we need to look not only at the relevant laws, we need to understand that it is the individual who needs to feel free and that “autonomy” begins within each person. This is the responsibility of each person, it is the personal freedom that brings a sense of human dignity.
It is agonizing to look at the landscape of Ukrainian education. In Lviv, for example, there are 22 universities and 150 thousand students plus another 50 thousand people who have been deeply subjected to fear. Fear is a fundamental problem not only in education but also in society as a whole.
In Ukraine’s higher education, there is a lack of people who feel inner freedom. We cannot bypass the factor of silence of Ukraine’s intellectuals and the structural passivity of the higher education system. If we accept this situation, we drive ourselves into a dead-end.
Arnoud Raynouard, Vice-president of the International University of Paris-Dauphine, France
Since the Middle Ages, in France, academic freedom always had government support. The law provides that the state is the main source of financing of universities, however, the management of human resources and academic issues is the prerogative only of universities, not the state. Universities compete for state funding and the process is transparent, open, it all parties are involved. Clearly, academic freedom is not absolute – there are requirements of society and the business environment. We try to create a dialogue maintaining autonomy – a principle at the core of the existence of universities.
Robin Farkuhar, Professor Emeritus and former President of University of Carleton, Canada
Compared with Europe we have a greater degree of university autonomy, particularly in matters of resource management. Canadian universities are the “conscience of society,” a constructive critic of society, a champion of truth. If we did not have university autonomy, discretion in the use of resources, we would not be able to perform this role.
However, autonomy should not be unconditional. The government provides financing but has a right to expect that the university will act responsibly in the public interest, justify the “mandate of trust.” In exchange for autonomy the university must agree to transparent reporting, and comply with international standards.
Universities are extremely valuable to society and society is fully aware of this fact.
The most important factor of autonomy is freedom in the administration of human resources. The success of the organization depends on the contribution of administrative and academic staff, and must be able to have the freedom to possess the tools that provide incentives and rewards as well as the right to demote or dismiss individual members of staff.
Brian Timnath, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Western Ontario, Canada
In Canada all universities are public. But funding from the state is up to 50% of the budget. We really enjoy a high degree of academic freedom, but there is also a very high degree of responsibility of universities to the state and society.
David Bishop, Honorary Librarian of the University, Norhtwestern University Library, Chicago and Evanston, USA, and Founding Member of the Electronic Library of Ukraine Project
In today’s world electronic communication plays a huge role in education and research. Together with our Ukrainian colleagues, we support and help develop the project “Electronic Library of Ukraine”, which enables Ukrainian universities to join the global network of academic and scientific information and share their own scientific achievements with the world academic community. It is no coincidence that the project is centered at Kyiv-Mohyla Library, a progressive and contemporary library that encourages collaboration with libraries in Ukraine and throughout the world. Access to knowledge and information are at the core of education, research, innovation and the development of a civil society.
Lesya Orobets, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Basic Education of the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Education
The task of reform of higher education is to provide the most transparent means for the best students to attend the best universities and be taught by the best teachers. We stopped the draft law that attempted to institute more central control and we continue to work on reforms to the law on education that will guarantee university autonomy and academic freedom. Despite all the difficulties, we will succeed.
Yuri Miroshnichenko, Member of Parliament of Ukraine and Representative of the President of Ukraine in Parliament
It is fundamentally important to support the Committee on Education in its efforts to reform the system of higher education. We as politicians have to create all the necessary conditions for Kyiv-Mohyla Academy to continue its work rooted in many years of ancient and recent history.
The main resource of the state is a highly qualified human capital. And the main system to prepare well trained human resources is the university. Universities should lead with a focus on innovation, and on the needs of the labor market. The function of the state is not in the administration of universities, it is rather in monitoring educational standards and implementation of those standards.
Jan Malicki, Director, Centre for East European Studies, Warsaw University, Poland
Hope that the Ministry will make concessions to universities is an illusion. Only the academic and research communities and universities can win autonomy for themselves. We must realize that the goal for the university is to vigorously defend its position.
Andreas Umland, Associate Professor of German and European Studies, Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadr, Germany, and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Ukrainian government uses political technology to influence university policy. Universities should not compete with the government. They should compete with other universities to improve their quality and competitiveness.
Bohdan Futey, Judge of the Court of Federal Claims of the United States
Even where the educational system is homogeneous, another opinion, a dissident opinion from the official one is needed, because it facilitates the development of society, of knowledge, research and innovation, and mutual understanding between people. Society benefits when it circulates different opinions. Expressing and defending their position, universities such as Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, can play a crucial role in developing a civil society. In order for Ukrainian universities to meet international standards, they must be free from government influence and ensure that academics, researchers and intellectuals operate under the principles of freedom of speech.