About Transparency Ranking of Ukrainian Universities 2016

Transparency Ranking of Ukrainian universities is one of many quality assurance instruments. It demonstrates to which extent Ukrainian universities are ready to be transparent and to communicate their policies to their faculty members, students, entrants, and general public on their websites. The main purpose of the Ranking is to find best practices among Ukrainian universities (and within each of them among different departments) in order to point out and offer those practices to HEIs that have a somehow weaker information policy.

The researchers are aware that the availability of information and transparency do not guarantee high quality education, but they are crucial for more informed decisions of students, teachers, and entrants.

Below we have gathered answers to some questions that will help you understand what Transparency Ranking demonstrates and what it does not.

Why do we assess information policy and transparency?

Access to information serves as a ground for implementation of effective quality assurance mechanisms. This factor is even more important under conditions of decentralization that has begun in Ukrainian higher education. We believe that the autonomy of universities must be accompanied by their transparency and openness to teachers, students, entrants and general public. In fact, access to information is one of the 10 internal quality assurance standards (ESG) which were agreed at the conference of Ministers of Education of the European Higher Education Area in Yerevan in 2015. Having information about study programs applicants and students are able to make more informed decisions in order to create their own educational path. Whereas financial transparency is the key to building confidence among general public as well as donors and patrons which is especially important for the future development of institutions. Administrative transparency is a foundation to spread the information about rights and responsibilities of all of the educational process’ participants, to promote academic integrity, combat corruption, nepotism and rights’ violations of students and teachers in higher education. The National Student Survey conducted by Gfk Ukraine on request of CEDOS in February 2016, showed that university websites were the main source of information when choosing a place to study for 56% of current students. This rate tends to increase. New generations of entrants will increasingly rely on university websites to help them choose their future profession and HEI. In such circumstances, a website becomes a strategically important tool of information policy which can help a university to find entrants who meet its requirements At the same time, cited survey shows that 59% of students felt a lack of information when choosing a university. In a multiple choice question on this issue the most frequent responses were about the lack of information about employment prospects (22%), educational internship (practicums) settings and opportunities (18%), international exchange programs (16%), information about the content of programs and disciplines (15%), and qualification of teachers (13%). Such data and ESG (as theoretical basis) encouraged CEDOS think tank to conduct a research on online information policies of Ukrainian higher education institutions.

At the same time, cited survey shows that 59% of students felt a lack of information when choosing a university. In a multiple choice question on this issue the most frequent responses were about the lack of information about employment prospects (22%), educational internship (practicums) settings and opportunities (18%), international exchange programs (16%), information about the content of programs and disciplines (15%), and qualification of teachers (13%).

Such data encouraged CEDOS think tank to conduct a research on online information policies of Ukrainian higher education institutions.

When was the research conducted?

From February to July 2016.

Which universities does the Ranking cover?

Monitoring has covered all public universities, academies, and institutes, except for institutions under the regulation of security agencies due to the specific mode of access to information about them. The monitoring also did not include branches campuses of universities, and those universities that are on the occupied territories and have not been moved to secure territory. The Ranking includes 186 higher educational institutions with over 1.25 million students which represent more than 91% of all students in higher educational institutions of III-IV level of accreditation according to the old classification. Each university got individual recommendations based on results of Ranking on how to improve content of their sites. Recommendations cover both strengths and weaknesses of each university and different departments within university.

What are the main principles of the research?

We conducted a content analysis of the information published on the official websites of universities, their faculties and departments. We also considered responses to requests for public information. A certain number of points was assigned to each university for the presence of specific information on its website. 6 components (indicators) were selected for assessment process: administrative and financial transparency, strategic development planning, information on employment opportunities for graduates, international exchange opportunities, and information on content of study programs. Each indicator consisted of a group of parameters, thus 45 parameters in total are used in ranking – all of them are described in detail in the methodology section.

Does a high position in the Ranking mean higher quality of education at the university compared to the ones that have lower positions?

The Ranking does not show such direct correlation. High position in the Ranking, in particular, indicator on financial transparency, demonstrates whether the university regularly publishes and updates information about the distribution of wages, including all possible allowances and additional payments, the cost of their education and other services. The availability of this information to public does not guarantee the absence of corruption, but makes it possible to control the financial policy of the university and reduces the chances to hide the corruption.

Does a high position in the Ranking mean that the university has no corruption or bribery?

The Ranking does not show such direct correlation. High position in the Ranking, in particular, indicator on financial transparency, demonstrates whether the university regularly publishes and updates information about the distribution of wages, including all possible allowances and additional payments, the cost of their education and other services. The availability of this information to public does not guarantee the absence of corruption, but makes it possible to control the financial policy of the university and reduces the chances to hide the corruption.

Does a high position in the Ranking mean that university’s management supports transparent administrative policy?

The Ranking does not show such direct correlation as we did not examine the actual decision-making processes. Instead, high position suggests that it is easy to access university’s key provisions which regulate rights and obligations of administration, faculty members, and students, as well as information on the composition of governing bodies, reports of management, and vacancy announcements at the university. The availability of this information is a necessary condition to monitor the legality of certain managerial decisions at the university. The availability of such information also helps students and teachers to stay informed about their rights and obligations. Moreover, awareness about one’s rights is the first precondition for their protection.

Can you compare the Rankings of 2015 and 2016?

Partly. Ranking 2015 covered only Ukrainian universities with national status, while Ranking 2016 covered all public universities, institutes and academies. Moreover, around half of the parameters differ. Thus, the comparison can be made only among universities that have national status and within indicators on the content of study programs and strategic planning.

Who are the authors of the project?

CEDOS think tank’s team is the author and performer of the research.

Methodology and editing: Yegor Stadny

Monitoring: Mariana Kavtseniuk, Mariia Kudelya, Tetiana Zheriobkina, Yegor Stadny

Visualization: Natalia Onyshchenko

Translation: Iryna Shevchenko

Who finances the project?

The study was carried out under the project "Ukrainian Think Tank Development Program" of International Fund "Renaissance" (IRF) in cooperation with the Think Tank Fund (TTF) and with financial support from the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine (SIDA).