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Ihor PASICHNYK: “Den provides a powerful intellectual milieu”

The rector of Ostroh Academy discusses changes in the education sector and new horizons of cooperation with his favorite publication
19 September, 16:22
Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

Den/The Day has cooperated with the National University of Ostroh Academy for 15 years. During this time, we have managed to implement many joint initiatives, including the Ostroh Club of Free Intellectual Communication for Youth which grew into an international project called the Ostroh Forum last year, a series of discussions which editor-in-chief of this newspaper Larysa Ivshyna has held with students, as well as students attending Den’s Summer School of Journalism. In addition, Ivshyna serves as co-chair of Ostroh Academy’s Supervisory Board. At the beginning of the new academic year, we discussed with the school’s rector, Hero of Ukraine, Professor Ihor Pasichnyk results of the 2018 admissions campaign, implementation of education reforms, and new horizons of cooperation between Den/The Day and Ostroh Academy.


Professor, we know that Ostroh Academy admitted almost 500 freshmen this year. What can you say about this year’s admissions campaign?

“Despite the demographic shortfall, we have successfully completed the admissions drive, especially in the leading educational and professional programs of Ostroh Academy, which are international relations, law, Germanic languages and literatures, and journalism. Also, we launched an educational and professional program in computer sciences this year, which applicants have been enthusiastic about. Each university has its own applicants, and therefore they know where they apply and what they will be required to do when studying. I am pleased to see that Ostroh Academy freshmen come from all regions of Ukraine, including Kyiv. Most importantly, we have admitted a high-quality bunch of young people, because our freshmen are mostly straight-A secondary school students who have extremely high scores in their External Independent Testing (EIT) certificates. No wonder the Ostroh Academy ranked sixth in the ranking of Top 10 Universities with the Highest Average Score, compiled by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on the basis of the 2018 admission campaign. We educate highly intellectual youths, which encourages our faculty to keep working on self-improvement as well. This movement’s logic allows Ostroh Academy to rank with the leading institutions of higher education in Ukraine.

“Regarding the technical failures that bedeviled those filing electronic applications during the admissions campaign, they were insignificant and did not affect its overall progress. The only thing we would like is for the Ministry of Education to allow universities to independently determine the list of EIT subject scores used to determine winning applications for this or that educational and professional program, especially when admitting self-funded students.”


There are many different opinions about reforms as envisioned by the new Laws of Ukraine “On Higher Education” and “On Education.” Are these reforms being successfully implemented at Ostroh Academy?

“When we use the word ‘reform,’ we mean primarily a change in the ideological component. I do not see the ideological component substantially changing in these reforms that are currently taking place in education. What I mean is that the curricula and programs must be permeated with such an important term as ‘patriotism,’ especially now that Ukraine is in a state of war. Therefore, I would not call these measures reforms, but rather changes in the education sector, which had to start with secondary education, and then move on to higher education, and not vice versa, because as a result, we are now getting school graduates who are not ready for college. Changes are clearly needed, especially in secondary education, which we have inherited unchanged from the Soviet Union. This old system can be defended only by a person who has not seen any alternative, and therefore, does not know that a child can go to school with joy and feel calm and comfortable there. The education minister declares that we are mainly using the Finnish educational system as our model. In my opinion, this is the right direction, so I fully support Lilia Hrynevych in this.

“As for the EIT, apart from a positive impact it has had on combating corruption in the admissions, it has had a negative one as well. It turns out that we are preparing students not for life, but for passing the EIT. Therefore, people have to spend considerable effort and resources on tutoring, especially while attending grades 10 and 11. In the Scandinavian system of education, a school graduate may submit either a school diploma or an EIT certificate at the time of admission. Why do not we borrow such an algorithm? I believe that the EIT needs to be conducted primarily among graduates of higher education institutions in order to determine the quality of their training and make appropriate conclusions about the expediency of keeping this or that university in business.

“We in Ostroh Academy are currently preparing to confirm its status as a national university, so we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of our work. Naturally, we share other universities’ issues, because many talented graduates go abroad. Therefore, we are trying to support, both morally and financially, the young intellectuals who stay and work for our university. We have created a unit charged with ensuring the quality of education in Ostroh Academy. We redesigned the curricula in accordance with the competence-based approach last year and carry out internal monitoring of the quality of education. We also plan to involve relevant international agencies in external monitoring, aiming to obtain, in the long run, an international certificate confirming that Ostroh Academy provides high-quality educational services.”


Ostroh Academy has cooperated with Den for 15 years. How do you rate the results of that cooperation, and what projects do you plan to implement in the near future?

“I always say that Den and Ostroh Academy’s relationship is not just a friendship, but a true intellectual romance. The newspaper team, headed by Larysa Ivshyna, always provides media support for us. In turn, we also support Den’s initiatives, in particular the annual international photo competition. Den newspaper provides a powerful intellectual milieu which students and teachers should be always immersed in. Your newspaper’s texts should never be read cursorily, but only thoughtfully and without much hurry, because each of them contains profound meanings. Our faculty members use Den as invaluable didactic material in their classes, in particular for aspiring journalists, political scientists, historians, scholars of international affairs, economists, cultural scholars, and philosophers. Each category can get something useful for them. And how can I praise enough books from Den’s Library series! In the near future, we want to invite Ms. Ivshyna to our school, so that she communicates with students and presents the upcoming book entitled ‘Ave. Centennial of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky.’ We also plan to launch master classes for students with the involvement of your newspaper’s talented journalists; by the way, there is a graduate of Ostroh Academy among them, namely editor of the economics department Alla Dubrovyk-Rokhova.”

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