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15 Jan, 2024 23:36

Ukraine to close colleges over lack of students

The country is running out of high school graduates, the Ministry of Education has said
Ukraine to close colleges over lack of students

The government in Kiev needs to shut down some higher education institutions due to what Deputy Education Minister Mikhail Vinnitsky told Ukrainian media on Mondayis  'a negative demographic trend.'

Ukraine had 640,000 high school graduates in 2008, but only 360,000 in 2023, Vinnitsky told the outlet Cenzor.

“A bill has already been developed on the prerequisites for modernizing the network of higher education institutions,” he said, describing it as “a bill to reduce the number of universities.”

Ukraine currently has 170 state and 40 municipal colleges, as well as around 100 private universities, not counting their branches, he said. After the reform, “about 100” would remain.

In 2008, there were approximately 350 institutions of higher education, with an average student body of 6,700. While the 2023 figures are not yet available, the expectation is that the number will be much lower.

The ministry has projected the number of graduates to drop to 300,000 by 2033 based just on Ukraine's demographics, “which do not take into account migration indicators,” according to Vinnitsky. 

“Given this data, one way or another, a certain reduction or consolidation of higher education institutions should occur,” the deputy minister said, noting that this would be “an extremely painful process.”

Ukraine had 52 million residents when it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but its population was already down to 45.5 million by 2013. The following year, the US-backed coup in Kiev triggered Crimea’s vote to rejoin Russia and a rebellion in Donbass – an event at the root of the current conflict with Moscow. According to the Kiev-based think tank Ukrainian Institute for the Future, only 29 million Ukrainians remained in the country as of mid-2023.

Millions of Ukrainians have fled to Russia and the EU due to the conflict, leaving the government struggling to replace the battlefield losses. President Vladimir Zelensky recently announced that the military would need up to 500,000 more conscripts, but the details of the next mobilization drive are still being worked out.

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