• ATHENA Project

    Fostering Sustainable and Autonomous
    Higher Education Systems
    in the Eastern Neighbouring Area

  • Focus

    University autonomy and funding reforms
    in Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine

  • Objectives

    Transfer of good practice
    Promotion of inclusive approaches
    Capacity building in university management


Second ATHENA workshop explores university autonomy challenges in Ukraine

The second country workshop in the framework of the ATHENA project  took place in Kiev, Ukraine, on Wednesday 6 October.     

 The ATHENA Workshop Ukraine brought together around 90 participants, representatives of Ukrainian universities and public authorities as well as international experts to discuss reforms of university autonomy and funding in Ukraine. The event was co-organised by EUA and the Ukrainian project partners, namely Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Donetsk National University, Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University, Odessa National University, the National Rectors' Council of Ukraine and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.



The workshop was opened by the Rector of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Leonid V. Hubersky, as the host, and First Deputy Minister for Education and Science of Ukraine, Yevgen М. Sulima. The discussions focused on the state of play of university autonomy and funding in Ukraine and the need for reforms.

The Ministry for Education and Science of Ukraine referred to the difficulties of overcoming the “soviet legacy” of a centrally controlled system and finding the right balance between autonomy and accountability.

Thomas Estermann presented EUA’s analysis of the current state of autonomy and funding in Ukraine and highlighted which challenges need to be addressed to further develop and implement a more autonomous and financially sustainable system. He stressed the importance of a dialogue between public authorities and universities and also emphasised the need for leadership and staff development at institutional level as a pre-requisite for successful implementation.


International experts presented good practice examples from Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain addressing key issues of successful governance and funding reforms. The presentations focused in particular on ways to organise the reform process with all stakeholders, academic autonomy as well as financial autonomy and its impact on the financial management of universities notably in relation to the diversification of income streams as one important element of financial sustainability.

Representatives from the partner universities and the National Rectors’ Council of Ukraine presented their views on the challenges and how they could be addressed. Some critically pointed to the lack of political will from authorities to pass the new laws needed as a basis for any reform as well as the bureaucratic hurdles notably in the funding system that would make it difficult for universities to develop modern financial management strategies. In this regard, the importance of international cooperation such as the Bologna Process that would work as a driver for reforms at national level and help in exchanging experiences with countries that have undergone similar processes, was also highlighted. Furthermore the modernisation of Ukraine’s universities as important pools of expertise and key players in developing the country’s human resources would also contribute to bringing it closer to the European Union.

As a follow-up to the event the project partners will develop a roadmap with concrete steps for the reform process addressed to all relevant stakeholders.




  • Yerevan State University
  • Gavar State University
  • State Engineering University of Armenia
  • State Universities Rectors Council of Armenia
  • Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia
  • Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova
  • Cahul State University
  • Free International University of Moldova
  • National Council of Rectors of Moldova
  • Ministry of Education of Moldova
  • Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev
  • Donetsk National University
  • Odessa National University
  • Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University
  • Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine
  • University of Coimbra
  • Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra
  • University of Helsinki
  • Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Amsterdam
  • European University Association