FROM GOOD TO GREAT: great universities in the United States chanced a lot when business turned their attention to them
Our interlocutor Irina Ivanchik does not really like the word “charity”. Irina believes that it greatly narrows the meaning of the social transformation that Ukrainian entrepreneurs are capable of.
For many years the Astarta company has been a donor of programs of the Believe in Yourself charitable foundation. During this time, a long and difficult path has been covered – from targeted assistance to talented children to the realized need to change the higher education system.
Huxleў asked Irina Ivanchik to talk about how a local charity project has outgrown itself, becoming a project of influence at the state level.
Together with my spouse Viktor Ivanchik, we founded the charitable foundation in 2009. Victor comes from a small village not far from Poltava, so he understands and feels well the people who live far from the big cultural and economic centers of the country.
In the 90s, there was a sharp social stratification of Ukrainians in terms of income and opportunities. For many talented children from small villages, higher education and prospects for creative and professional growth turned out to be inaccessible. With the help of the program Modern Education For Rural Children Foundation, we decided to correct this injustice.
Every year more than 100 graduates of rural schools become scholars of this program. Children freely choose their future profession
Among our graduates there are doctors, financiers, engineers, IT specialists… and even an opera singer with a wonderful coloratura soprano. Our fellows have studied at more than 60 universities in the country.
But not everything was as we expected. Quite often, we received negative feedback from students on the poor quality of teaching, bribes. At some point, we realized that it makes no sense to indirectly support non-viable universities.
SCIENTISTS NEED SUPPORT
Today, the fund cooperates with only five universities: the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Kharkov National University of Radio Electronics, the Vasily Stefanyk Precarpathian National University and the National University named after Taras Shevchenko.
Children from rural families who have enough ambition and abilities to study at the most prestigious universities in the country can count on the support of the Fund. The degradation of the education system over the past 30 years influences on everything.
It applies not only to students, but also to the teaching staff. The best ones often leave the universities – for higher salaries and career prospects. Therefore, we launched a teacher support program.
The Foundation pays for a one-year scientific leave – sabbatical – for professors and young scientists, during which they can fully devote themselves to science. At the Ukrainian Catholic University, we support teachers with scholarships and grants for scientific research
I am a senator of the Catholic University, and Viktor Ivanchik heads the supervisory board of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy. Therefore, we understand well the specifics of the management system of Ukrainian universities.
And we would like, without intruding into the academic sphere and the educational process, to use the best international experience to transform these models.
I think that
today the managerial model of the Catholic University can be a benchmark for all other universities. They know the real value of the expertise that the members of the supervisory board provide, including in the selection of the rector
They correctly build the management system, make appropriate changes to the charter, regulations and daily management practices. At the university, a separate vice-rector responsible for mission and values is Miroslav Marinovich. This is a very important function to ensure that the university ship does not deviate from its stated course.
“CHIMERS” OF THE HIGHER SCHOOL
In 2014, the law “About Higher Education” was adopted. It contained quite revolutionary changes concerning academic autonomy. However, its management model reminds me of Notre Dame Cathedral – the legislative building has kept virtually all the chimeras of Soviet times intact.
The result is a rather ugly management model that combines the incongruous. Of course, the election of the rector is a step forward compared to the corruption model, when rectors were appointed by the ministry. The bad news is that the electoral system itself does not encourage a progressive visionary to become a rector.
Under such a system, reformers are extremely rare, and truly innovative and bright people begin to leave the universities
For example, Edward Ruban – an effective manager, reformer, pragmatist – was not elected the rector of KNURE for the second time. He turned out to be too active, inconvenient and not indifferent leader.
Another “chimera”: a person who has at least 10 years of teaching experience can become a rector, but no one pays attention to his managerial abilities. This person may be an excellent teacher and a wonderful scientist, but he may not know how to develop complex projects and manage a large organization.
BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES FOR UNIVERSITIES
Our new program, which we are implementing on the basis of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, aims to create a successful case for the management transformation of a Ukrainian university, which can then be used by other universities in the country.
A higher school today must adopt the best corporate governance practices that have proven themselves well in business
Of course, there are some nuances in the management of public universities, and they must be taken into account. Therefore, in Mohilyanka, we carry out management diagnostics, test in practice which corporate governance methods will work effectively in higher education and which will not.
We realize that it is very difficult for people to change the established traditions for decades, but changes are necessary for the higher education system in Ukraine to become viable. Management in universities has its own specifics, and in the future we will inevitably come to the point of training specialists in this area.
MANAGEMENT, STATE AND THE SUPERVISORY: SWAN, CANCER AND PIKE
The university manager must clearly understand the target model of the university that he manages, what depends on the state, what role the supervisory boards play. Today, all these three branches of the university “power” act like the swan, the cancer and the pike in the famous fable. They do not understand why they need each other, where their powers should start and finish.
On the one hand, the state gave universities the right to formulate academic programs themselves, on the other, it retained full financial and managerial control. The situation when a university cannot influence its staffing, invite a professor with a name and pay him an adequate fee is not normal.
Formally, universities were given the right to open their own accounts in state banks. But at the same time, they introduced such a number of restrictions that there can be no talk of any financial independence.
No less absurd are the audits of the control and audit department of not only the targeted use of state, but also donor funds. Moreover, the format of these checks has little in common with the classical financial audit.
UKRAINIAN RECTOR: TWO IN ONE
The corporate governance model in Ukrainian universities is unstructured today. The architecture of management, including the academic council, the administration, the supervisory board, faculties and departments, the functions of which are clearly defined and understandable, we have to build in the future.
In the American model, there are two key managers: the rector, who is a professional manager, and the first vice president of the university, who is responsible for research and educational programs. In Ukrainian universities, the rector is responsible for everything that happens in the university, and he has no one to share it with in the face of the regulatory authorities.
THE NEW ROLE OF THE OBSERVATIONS
The task of our Foundation is to reconsider the role of supervisory boards in Ukrainian universities, to make them an effective tool for development. We have like-minded people. For example, the chairman of the committee on education and science of the Verkhovna Rada, Sergei Babak.
However, our fears are related to the fact that there are almost 300 universities and a huge number of other institutions issuing diplomas in the country. It is impossible to form an adequate supervisory board in everyone. It will take a lot of competent, educated, highly motivated people.
For example, there are 14 people in the supervisory board of Mogilyanka, and about the same in the UCU. After all, this work, unlike state-owned enterprises, is carried out pro bono. A possible solution is to create university associations with a single supervisory board that makes collegial decisions.
A separate task is explanatory work with the leadership of universities. Today they are very wary of supervisory boards, because they fear that another supervisory body will simply be added to the ministry, Сontrol and Audit Department and the State Property Fund, and not an assistant in communications with the same state, which will protect the university autonomy.
Today we understand that transforming the management of higher education institutions is a complex task. Not everything can be solved on the basis of the university; changes are needed at the level of legislation and ministerial decrees. And all this should be in the nature of a systemic, coordinated policy.
We try to involve as many interested people as possible in the process of its formation. But not because we have the ambition to be “the top ones in education,” but someone just has to start first? Someone has to administer the changes?
The project is supported by the Swiss Embassy, and Ernst & Young is responsible for diagnostics and roadmap development. Diagnostics of the university management system in Mohylanka allows us to better understand bottlenecks and development opportunities. The project has several stages. The first, organizational diagnostics, has already been passed.
We are now in the second stage of developing an intermediate target model. Moreover, the roadmap for achieving the goals is being developed in two directions: what the university can implement today and what needs to be changed at the state level.
UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT: ALL HOPE FOR BUSINESS
The biggest difficulty of this stage is associated with communication, with the search for such a target management model that will preserve and even strengthen university autonomy on the one hand and add manageability and transparency to the model on the other.
Therefore, we decided to spend more time and effort on round tables, master classes, team building meetings with the university team, which will subsequently have to work in this coordinate system.
In parallel with the communication system, we, together with Oksana Bosko, who heads the Academy of Corporate Governance, discussed the possibility of creating a separate training program for corporate management for university employees, future members of supervisory boards.
It’s no secret that we have a weak state in which state institutions function extremely ineffectively.
I am sure that today only business can “infect” the management system, including the management of higher education, innovation and world standards
Ukrainian businessmen are very interested in real changes in the state.