Education in Ukraine

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Ministry of Education and Science (Міністерство освіти і науки)
Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (en c).png
Agency overview
Formed 8 July 1992
Preceding agency
  • Ministry of Education and Science, Youth and Sports
Jurisdiction  Ukraine
Headquarters 10, Victory Sq., Kiev
Minister responsible
Child agencies
  • Service for intellectual property
  • Agency of Science, Innovations, and Informativeness
Website Official website

Starting in September 2018, 12-year secondary education will replace 11-year which was mandatory before that.[3] As a rule, schooling begins at the age of 6, unless your birthday is on or after September 1.[4] In 2016/17 the number of students in primary and secondary school reached 3,846,000, in vocational school 285,800, and in higher education 1,586,700 students.

According to 2017 EduConf speech of the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, Liliya Hrynevych, the amount of budget financing for the sphere of education will reach about UAH 53 billion in 2017 (compared to 42 in 2016).[3]

Ukrainian educational system[edit]

The Ukrainian educational system is organized into five levels: preschool, primary, secondary, upper secondary and postgraduate education.

In 2010 a total of 56% of children aged one to six years old had the opportunity to attend preschool education, the Education and Science Ministry of Ukraine reported in August 2010.[5]

Schools receive 50% of their funding from the city budget and 50% from the national Government budget.[6] The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine intends to give general education schools the option to independently manage the financial resources assigned from the state budget starting from January 1, 2010.[7]

School level[edit]

Gra Age School level Accreditation
1 6/7 primary I level
2 7/8
3 8/9
4 9/10
5 10/11 secondary, base II level
6 11/12
7 12/13
8 13/14
9 14/15
10 15/16 secondary, last III level
11 16/17
12 17/18

Currently in Ukraine, school in its prime meaning is designated for children and teenagers who attend it between ages 6 through 17. There are several types of institutions of General Education. Some schools may be boarding schools and named school-internat or lyceum-internat.

  • Middle School of General Education (ZOSh) or Middle School
  • Lyceum (Tekhnikum in the Soviet times)
  • Gymnasium

The institution is called Middle School of General Education (ZOSh) or simply Middle School and usually combines primary and secondary levels of education. The system was first introduced in 1958 and included a 12-grade system, while in 1965 it was a 10-grade system. Most of the middle schools have all three level of accreditation for the General Education. Some remote schools may be of two levels which is a minimum requirement for all the middle school.

Primary and secondary education is divided into three levels of accreditation of general education: I - "younger", II - "middle", and III - "senior". I level of accreditation comprises grades 1 to 4. Grades 5-9 are usually considered a II level of accreditation or a base secondary education, while 10-12 are a III level. Despite the names, students usually study in the same school institution throughout their primary and secondary education. Primary schooling lasts 4 years and middle school 5. There are then 2 profile years.

The objective of general schooling is to give younger students knowledge of the arts and sciences, and teach them how to use it practically.[8] The middle school curriculum includes classes in the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian Literature, a foreign language, world literature, Ukrainian History, world history, geography, algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, physics, physical education, music and art. At some schools, students also take environment and civics classes. Students attend each class only once or twice a week, however. Part of the school day is also spent in activities such as chess, karate, putting on plays, learning folktales and folk songs, choir and band. After school, students might also have music lessons, soccer, hockey, or tennis.[9]

Knowledge Day in Donetsk, 2013

During grades 9 and 12, which is usually around the age of 15 and 17, students take various exams. The current examination system is undergoing change. At grades 9 and 12 students take IGTs (Independent Government Tests), which allow eleventh graders to enter university without taking separate entrance exams. In 2008 entrance exams were abolished and the IGTs became the standard for determining entrance eligibility.[10] But in 2010 the system was changed again.

In school year 2009-2010 potential graduates are scheduled to undergo external independent testing after the final state examination, in the following subjects: Ukrainian language and literature, history of Ukraine, mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, geography, and one foreign language (of the pupil's choice) in either English, German, French, or Spanish. The results of the testing will have the same status as entrance examinations to institutions of higher education.[11] But some universities can convert points in the external independent test certificate according to their own rating system.

Home Schooling[edit]

Educating children at home is legal in Ukraine and expressly allowed for in Articles 59 and 60 of Ukraine’s Education Law.[12]

International Schools[edit]

University level (Post-secondary education)[edit]

Higher education is either state funded or private. Students who study at state expense receive a standard scholarship if their average marks at the end-of-term exams and differentiated test is at least 4 (see the 5-point grade system below); this rule may be different in some universities. In the case of all grades being the highest (5), the scholarship is increased by 25%. For most students the level of government subsidy is not sufficient to cover their basic living expenses. Most universities provide subsidized housing for out-of-city students. Also, it is common for libraries to supply required books for all registered students.

There are two degrees conferred by Ukrainian universities: the bachelor's degree (4 years) and the master's degree (5–6th year). These degrees are introduced in accordance with Bologna process, in which Ukraine is taking part. Historically, Specialist's Degree (usually 5 years) is still also granted; it was the only degree awarded by universities in the Soviet times. Almost all major universities are located in oblast centers.

Postgraduate level[edit]

Upon obtaining a master's degree or Specialist, a student may enter a university or a scientific institute to pursue postgraduate education. The first level of postgraduate education is aspirantura that usually results in the Kandydat Nauk degree (Candidate of Sciences). Candidates must pass three or more qualifying exams (one or more in the field of specialty, one in a foreign language of their choice and one in philosophy), publish at least five papers in peer reviewed journals (according to requirements existed up to 2013 they had to publish at least three papers), write a dissertation and defend it. This degree is roughly equivalent to the Ph.D. in the United States.[13] After graduation a student may continue postgraduate education. This takes from two to four years of study in doctorantura. Significant scientific results must be obtained and published, and a new thesis written. This produces a Doctor Nauk degree (Doctor of Sciences), but the more typical way is working in a university or scientific institute with parallel preparation of a thesis. The average time between obtaining Kandidat and Doctor degrees is roughly 10 years, and most of new Doctors are 40 and more years old. Only one of four Kandidats reaches this grade. Kandidat Nauk may keep the position Associate Professor in universities, or Researcher/Senior Researcher in scientific institutes. Doctor Nauk can hold position of full Professor, Head of Laboratory or an equal/higher positions. The Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science is considering changing the Soviet style Kandidat Nauk and Doctor Nauk degrees to Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor Habilitation, as has happened in several other post-Soviet countries.[citation needed]


Ukraine produces the fourth largest number of academic graduates in Europe.

Ukraine has a 99.4 literacy rate. Ukrainian universities use a traditional 5-point scale:

  • "5" = "excellent"
  • "4" = "good"
  • "3" = "satisfactory"
  • "2" = "unsatisfactory".

"5", "4", "3" can be described as "Passed", "2" - as "Fail". Students who get a failing grade of "2", have two more chances to pass an examination. Since 2006 (and even earlier in some universities), university students are graded on a rating scale of 0 to 100. These grades can be transformed to the 5-point scale approximately as follows (this system may vary a little from university to university and may change from time to time):

  • from 90 to 100 means "5" —– A
  • from 75 to 89 means "4" —— B, C
  • from 60 to 74 means "3" —— D
  • from 0 to 59 means "2" —— E

Both the rating scale and the 5-point scale are used in university registers. Some lecturers prefer to use A-F-point scale to rate students during their passing the exams.

As for secondary schools, they also used the above-mentioned 5-point scale till 2000. Since 2000 secondary schools use a 12-point scale, which could be transformed into the traditional 5-point scale as follows:[citation needed]

  • "12" = "5+"
  • "11" = "5"
  • "10" = "5-"
  • "9" = "4+"
  • "8" = "4"
  • "7" = "4-"
  • "6" = "3+"
  • "5" = "3"
  • "4" = "3-"
  • "3" = "2+"
  • "2" = "2"
  • "1" = "2-"

Here signs "+" and "-" denote respectively better and worse version of a mark, for example, "4-" means "somewhat worse than good".

Languages used in Educational Establishments[edit]

Since the 2017 law "On Education" the language of instruction in Ukrainian schools is the state language, which is Ukrainian (national minorities are guaranteed the right to study in public educational facilities including their language alongside Ukrainian).[14]

In 2000/2001 academic year, 70% of students attended Ukrainian-language schools (that is where Ukrainian is the primary language of instruction), while 29% were studying in Russian-language schools. There are schools with instruction in Romanian, Crimean Tatar, Hungarian, and Polish in regions populated by those groups. Historically, the language of instruction has often changed in Ukraine. When Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, the Ukrainian language was proscribed, and Russian predominated among the elite, who had access to schools. The initial policies of the Bolsheviks were supportive of local languages, and many Ukrainian-language schools were opened, with the long-term goal of getting rid of illiteracy. From the mid-1930s to the mid-1980s, the Soviet government policies favoured Russification. In the 1970s and 1980s, the number of Russian-language schools constantly increased at the expense of Ukrainian-language schools. After Ukraine obtained independence the trend was reversed. However, reintroduction of formal Ukrainian-language study has taken longer than expected. In some schools that have tried to switch to Ukrainian, part or most of the instruction is still given in Russian. In universities there are similar trends. In 1991/92 academic year, according to the Razumkov Centre, 49% of high school students were receiving their education in Ukrainian, and 50% in Russian.

Education of international students[edit]

Ukraine is a popular destination for education among Asian and African students. There are more than 63,000 students from 130 countries of the world now.[15] With the support of Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine in 2016 was founded Ukrainian Admission Center for foreign students. The goal of the center is to make the admission and training of foreign students easier and safer. A lot of non-government companies try to help students from all over the world apply to one of the universities in Ukraine. An example is Ukrainian Education Services.[16]


According to Frances Cairncross (in April 2010) "Ukrainian education is too inward-looking, too corrupt and too poor to do a good job".[17] According to Anders Åslund (in October 2012) the best parts of the Ukrainian education system are basic education in mathematics and science; but the quality of doctoral education is bad, particularly in management training, economics, law and languages.[18] He also signaled that the greatest problem in the Ukrainian education system is corruption.[18]

Ukrainian professor O. Bazaluk (uk) reports that the Ukrainian education provides for a student nothing more than an illusion of training. As a result the majority of the Ukrainian graduates do not possess even a basic level of professional knowledge when they leave their schools. Due to extremely ineffective educational policy of the Ukrainian government and ubiquitous corruption the everyday life of the society has been significantly changed. The new developed qualities of the social transformation include aggression, rudeness, intolerance, boastfulness, reticence etc.[19]

In 2013 the education system received the third highest percentage among Ukrainians of having given a bribe too with 33%.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New Cabinet formed in Ukraine, UNIAN (14 April 2016)
  2. ^ "Official website of the Ministry. About (In Ukrainian)". 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Beyond the scandal: what is Ukraine’s new education law really about?
  4. ^ Bassis/Dhilawala. (2009). Cultures of the World:Ukraine p.72
  5. ^ Education Ministry: Some 44 percent of children unable to attend kindergarten, Kyiv Post (August 11, 2010)
  6. ^ Tymoshenko promises to commission all unfinished schools in 2010, Interfax-Ukraine (October 5, 2009)
  7. ^ Ukrainian schools to manage budgetary financing independently starting from January 1, says Tymoshenko, Interfax-Ukraine (October 1, 2009)
  8. ^ Bassis/Dhilawala (2009). Cultures of the World: Ukraine
  9. ^ Kummer, Patricia K. (2001) Ukraine Enchantment of the World
  10. ^ Про затвердження Порядку проведення зовнішнього незалежного оцінювання...| від 24.01.2008 (in Ukrainian)
  11. ^ School leavers to have external independent testing after state final examination, Kyiv Post (October 8, 2009)[dead link]
  12. ^ Home School Legal Defense Association: Ukraine, Home School Legal Defense Association
  13. ^ Great Soviet Encyclopedia (in Russian) (3rd ed.). Moscow: Sovetskaya Enciklopediya. Vol. 11. 
  14. ^ Beyond the scandal: what is Ukraine’s new education law really about?
    Debate on language provisions of Ukraine’s education law not over – minister
    Ukraine agrees to concessions to Hungary in language row
  15. ^ Foreign students in Ukraine
  16. ^
  17. ^ Education problems deeper than language, Kyiv Post (2 April 2010)
  18. ^ a b Outdated educational system translates into lagging economy, Kyiv Post (4 October 2012)
  19. ^ Bazaluk, Oleg (2016). "Introduction". Corruption in Ukraine: Rulers’ Mentality and the Destiny of the Nation. pp. XI. ISBN 9781443896894. 
  20. ^ Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer: Ukraine has become more corrupt over the last two years, The Ukrainian Week (9 July 2013)

External links[edit]