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With the new law, foreign universities may open branches in Ukraine. Experts, however, are not sure that the new degree will make a difference. 

The Ukrainian Parliament recently passed a degree that makes it possible for foreign universities to open branches in Ukraine. It was also previously allowed for foreign universities to do so, but it was not specified which ones could and what the procedure was to get a license to establish a branch in Ukraine.

The new degree sets a framework, which is supposed to make it easier to open branches in Ukraine. However, only foreign universities ranked among the top 3,000 in the world will be allowed to open a branch in Ukraine. Russian universities and universities owned by Russians are also not permitted to open a branch in Ukraine. 

Furthermore, foreign universities are only allowed to work outside Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Odesa, as the government thinks that those cities have enough universities. Applicants will need to submit an application where they argue for why they want to set up a branch, what they will teach, and how many students they would like to enroll, writes Kyiv Post

The Ukrainian government hopes that the new degree will bring foreign universities to Ukraine, but experts talking to Kyiv Post are not so optimistic. They argue that it isn’t desirable for well-known foreign universities such as Harvard and Yale to open a branch in Ukraine, as not many Ukrainians will be able to afford tuition. 

“It looks like a PR campaign because foreign universities are not eager to open branches here,” said Mykola Skyba, an expert from the Ukrainian Institute of the Future.

“It is very unlikely that these universities will choose Ukraine as their next destination because the country’s market is too complicated and unprofitable,” said Yevhen Nikolaiev, an expert at the think tank OsvitAnalityka, also to Kyiv Post. 

Ukraine needs better scientists

The experts argue that Ukrainians would rather travel abroad to study if they can afford it and that foreign universities prefer to bring the students to them. Furthermore, Ukraine does not have a good reputation for great academia. Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is the best and is ranked as number 601 in the world.

Elena Denisova-Schmidt, a lecturer in Russian culture at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, found that 93 percent of students in a study of undergraduate students in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, reported having plagiarized their schoolwork. Furthermore, 48 percent said they had paid bribes at their university.

According to the adviser to the head of the President’s Office, Tymofiy Mylovanov, something needs to be done to heighten the level in Ukrainian universities and secure that more science is done in Ukraine, which will benefit the country. 

“What the problem is. In my opinion, it is completely different, not related to plagiarism. It is connected with the fact that there is emptiness. That is, we are talking about the fact that we are copying from emptiness to emptiness, and society is offended that it is wrong to refer to emptiness,” said Mylovanov to Hromadske.

“We look at the form, not the essence. Our essence is the lack of science. Why? Because we have no resources in science. Because we cannot pay salaries of the American or European level in order to entice people like me,” he said. 

According to Mylovanov, more will need to be done to heighten salaries for scientists, so they stay in Ukraine. He says that there is much talent in Ukraine. 

“If I have ideas, I have no career path, I will be poor, and I will struggle with administrators. It’s easier for me to make my own startup or go to the USA or Europe and become a scientist there. Therefore, most of the people who want to do science go abroad,” said the adviser.