Recommendations on reforming the scientific sphere of Ukraine

The current critical state of the Ukrainian scientific sector is primarily due to the fact that it is still unclear what role science should play in the economic development of Ukraine and how it should be embedded in other fields. As a result, financing of the scientific sphere takes place on a residual principle, there are no mechanisms that would allow science to be a source of economic development, state policy in this area is inconsistent, and the issue of science reform is not priority. All this increases stagnation, reduces the motivation of scientists, promotes the simulation of science, stimulates the outflow of personnel to other areas of activity or beyond Ukraine, leads to a lack of interest of young people in science.

Thus, although the task of reforming the scientific sphere of Ukraine is very acute, today it can not be incorporated into the broader context of modernization of Ukraine, since it has not yet been established. Therefore, at this stage, concentration of resources and consolidation of elites around this reform should not be expected, as well as building an understanding of the importance of science for the future of Ukraine in society. At the same time, inactivity is unacceptable, since staff and infrastructure losses become signs of irreversibility.

Taking into account the above mentioned, the following principles should be based on the reform of the sphere of science:

  • creation of conditions and tools for the development of existing research centers, regardless of their organizational form and departmental subordination, which will allow maintaining the scientific potential as much as possible,
  • creation of tools for enhancing the best that will keep the most competitive scholars in science and in Ukraine, engage young people, create success stories, etc.,
  • optimizing the network of scientific institutions and universities by eliminating ineffective, determined on the basis of an independent, including international expertise, which will allow the release of resources (which need to be directed to the science for development) and will give a positive signal on the improvement of the scientific sphere,
  • setting up the collection of information on the current state of the scientific sphere for making informed decisions, as well as its presentation in a convenient form for use by scientists and the public,
  • the systematic use of opportunities for international cooperation, in particular the status of an associated country to the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Program and membership in the European Research Area.

Following these principles one can briefly formulate the main recommendations for reforming the sphere of science:

1. Create a strategy for the development of Ukraine with a definition of the role and place of science. On its basis, to prepare strategies for Ukraine’s innovation development and development of its scientific sphere.

2. To establish collection of information on the scientific sphere. To transform the State Register of Scientific Institutions, which is supported by the state, into the National Research Portal, where information about researchers, institutions that carry out scientific, scientific and technical and innovation activities, research infrastructure, scientific subjects and results, etc., was collected and made available. The portal could also be used to collect information on scientific and promotional activities, etc. Introduce the collection of such statistical information on the field of science that could be compared with world statistics.

3. To conduct state certification of all scientific institutions receiving budget financing, based on a new methodology with a conflict of interest warning, the application of best international practices and the involvement of international expertise. Methods for evaluating scientific activity of scientific institutions and institutions of higher education in the part concerning their scientific and scientific-technical activities should be based on the same principles. Optimize the network of existing scientific institutions, and release the resources allocated for the development of science. Create conditions for the development of science in universities.

4. Create a Roadmap for the development of Ukraine’s research infrastructure and its integration into the research infrastructures of the European Research Area (ERA) and the world. Provide Ukrainian researchers with access to foreign research infrastructure, which involves not only funding, but also legal support and information on existing opportunities.

5. Improve the formation of state policy in the field of science. Ensure effective work of the National Council for Science and Technology Development. To create a separate department within the structure of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which would carry out analytical support for the activities of the Scientific Committee and coordinate the activities of the working groups of the National Council. Ensure the effective use of associated status in Horizon 2020 in order to participate in shaping European policy in the field of science and harmonization of national policy in this direction. Provide financing for the participation of representatives from Ukraine in all eight ERA program committees.

6. To establish within 2018 the National Research Foundation, to ensure its special status, which will enable it to become an effective, transparent and convenient tool for allocating funds for scientific and scientific-technical activities, and to provide for its financing at the appropriate level.

7. To carry out comprehensive deregulation and de-bureaucratization of scientific activity: from simplification of reporting and its transfer to electronic form before revision of the regulation of the circulation of precursors for educational, scientific and scientific-technical activities, granting of tax privileges and exemption from the duty of scientific institutions. View the status of scientific institutions as budgetary in the direction of providing greater financial autonomy.

8. Develop a plan for the implementation of the EDP Roadmap with the involvement of stakeholders from the scientific sphere, the Scientific Committee of the National Council and profile ministries. Ensure the implementation of the Roadmap for Ukraine’s integration into the ERA and the full use of the opportunities provided for Ukraine’s membership in the ERA. In particular, actively use the tools offered by the EU and work out the recommendations of an independent European audit of the national research system.

9. Create in short terms an adequate legal framework for international cooperation in the field of science.

10. To develop a set of measures to stop the outflow of personnel from science and Ukraine, as well as to increase the influx of talented young people into science. To provide the work of scientific lyceums, holding competitions and other forms of preparation of students for high-tech specialties. To provide a high level of teaching natural and mathematical disciplines in school.

11. To modernize the control system of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, leaving it self-governing status.

12. On the basis of state attestation of scientific institutions of branch academies of sciences to make a decision on reorganization of these scientific organizations, deprivation of their status of self-government, re-subordination to other key spending units, etc.

13. Create effective cleaning mechanisms from pseudoscience and plagiarism.


Yulia Bezvershenko

Dr. Yulia Bezvershenko, candidate of physical and mathematical sciences, junior researcher of the Institute of Theoretical Physics of National Academy of Sciences Ukraine, deputy chairman of the Council of Young Scientists of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Expert of “Innovation policy” project.

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