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Іnternational online-forum “Higher education quality assurance in wartime”

Іnternational online-forum “Higher education quality assurance in wartime” became the most important international event in the field of higher education quality assurance this year. Our country has presented itself, where despite all the terrible challenges, human tragedies, hostilities, rocket attacks and bombings, higher education not only exists, but also develops and seeks to improve. The moderator — NAQA Vice-Head Nataliia Stukalo emphasised the relevance of the forum and noted that the registration was completed in a day — more than 500 people from 30 countries expressed their will to participate in the event. Then the participants observed a minute of silence in memory of those who had been killed during the full-scale russian invasion. 

NAQA Head Andrii Butenko made an introductory speech, outlining the main challenges of the current situation in Ukraine, emphasising the need for cooperation of all branches of government, and thanking international partners for their support. Serhiy Babak, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Education, Science and Innovation, in his speech highlighted that NAQA was one of the first in the world to conduct remote accreditations and is now the first agency in the world to complete accreditations during martial law. Dr. Karin Rölke, Senior Programme Co-ordinator of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine told participants about the OSCE’s cooperation with Ukraine and thanked NAQA for joint projects. Then spoke the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Serhiy Shkarlet, who called on foreign partners to support NAQA. ENQA President Douglas Blackstock stressed the importance of higher education quality assurance during wartime and spoke about simplified admission programs for temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine. Karl Dittrich, President of EQAR, expressed his support and assured that EQAR is ready to assist NAQA in its activities. CEENQA President Francesi Demsar also expressed solidarity with NAQA and the academic community of Ukraine. 

NAQA Vice-Head Nataliia Stukalo covered the topic “Ukrainian external higher education quality assurance in the war conditions”. She spoke about NAQA activities before war, highlighting how exactly the war changed the work of the institution, thanked international partners and expressed the thought that flexibility and ability to adapt to extreme conditions — is a crucial component for any agency involved in higher education quality assurance. The final stage of her speech was a demonstration of the survey results among participants and spectators of the forum, which showed that more than 80% believe that higher education quality assurance during wartime is important.

The next section of the forum was dedicated to discuss the problems of internal higher education quality assurance in war conditions. Higher education institutions’ representatives: Mykola Trofymenko, Rector of the Mariupol State University; Tetiana Kaganovska, Rector of the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University; Oleksandr Aziukovskyi, Rector of the Dnipro University of Technology; Ihor Tsependa, Rector of the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University; Serhiy Kvit, President of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy; Volodymyr Buhrov, Rector of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv; Dmytro Sherengovsky, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Internationalisation of the Ukrainian Catholic University and Volodymyr Mirnenko, Director of the Department of Military Education and Science of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine told about the impact of the war on the institutions’ activities and analysed their own path of higher education quality assurance.  Higher education institutions are actively involved in helping citizens, setting up humanitarian headquarters, assisting in the search for the missing, while maintaining the educational process and conducting admission campaigns.

Given the fact that the buildings of Mariupol State University and the buildings of V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University were destroyed, the representatives presented the current projects of universities and opportunities for their revival. They emphasised not only on the architectural reconstruction, but also the reconstruction of the essence of the institutions’ existence.

NAQA Vice-Head Ivan Nazarov presented the draft National Action Plan of Ukrainian external higher education quality assurance for 2022-2023 period, outlining the key actions, vectors of work and current issues that can be overcomed only by consolidated efforts of all stakeholders. 

The last stage of the forum was an open discussion, which could be joined by each participant, to express their support for Ukrainian universities, the Ukrainian people, to comment on the NAQA activities in this difficult time.

You can watch Forum’s video-recording via the link.