The “DigiUni – Open Ukrainian Initiative” project which won the competition first opened for Ukraine by the European Commission as part of the EU Erasmus+ Programme, was presented on October 11, 2023 in the Main Building of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University.
The innovativeness and uniqueness of this project lies in the creation of a single digital educational ecosystem that will provide continuous, high-quality, inclusive and transparent education that can be obtained regardless of location, using digital innovations in the educational field.
The project team includes 10 Ukrainian universities, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, the National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance, the Ukrainian Association of IT Professionals and foreign partner universities and associations of EU member states from France, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and Poland. Taras Shevchenko KNU has been designated as the coordinator.
Kseniia Smyrnova, KNU Vice-Rector for International Cooperation, noted that the idea of the initiative was born on February 24, 2022. Since then, many negotiations have been held to implement the project, as well as to attract Ukrainian and international partners.
“We face many ambitious and difficult tasks to solve the quality of digital content, combining it into a single digital platform to provide the opportunity to study in major universities of Ukraine from different parts of the world,” said Kseniia Smyrnova, opening the event.
“The full-scale invasion has become an unprecedented challenge for the higher education system. For most Ukrainian universities, digitization is of national importance for conducting research, for communication, for preserving archives, and in general for the life of educational institutions. That is why, stating the fact that we have a huge background, a history of the transition to digital technologies, we can offer such a project. Its goal is to influence the somewhat chaotic processes of digital transformation in education in order to harmonize them. And ultimately, develop a digital educational ecosystem that will become the basis, the foundation for continuous, high-quality transparent education, regardless of the location of the participants of the educational process. Such a system can become an example for other innovative systems, not only in the field of digitization,” KNU Rector Volodymyr Bugrov emphasized.
Olha Budnyk, Advisor – Presidential Commissioner for the Presidential Foundation for Support of Education, Science and Sports, noted: “There have been talks about such an initiative since last year, when it started as the Open University of Ukraine, which involved the unification of various universities in the country, but it was just an idea, many of which arise, but not all of them come to implementation. My special respect and gratitude to the entire team for the fact that you can already present the start of this project today. The universities that have joined the project are of particular interest. I am sure that this will have a great effect on the education of Ukraine as a whole. Moreover, one day we will be able to share this experience with the world.”
Remi Duflot, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, spoke about the importance of the initiated project. According to him, education is the driver of economic prosperity, popularizing innovations and strengthening competitiveness, it forms the elite of every national society, creates economic opportunities, which, especially after the victory of Ukraine, will help rebuild and renew it. Ukraine suffered from Russia’s attack. Many schools, gymnasiums, universities were partially or completely destroyed, many children were forced to leave their homes. Ensuring the right of every Ukrainian to education, regardless of age and gender, is extremely important for the European Union. This is the main priority.
Filip van Depoele, Deputy Director-General for Innovation, Digital Education and International Cooperation of the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture of the European Commission, wished the successful implementation of the project, which will enable students to be educated in the Ukrainian language regardless of where they are.
Dmytro Zavgorodnii, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitalization thanked international partners for their interest in higher education in Ukraine. He noted that the most important thing in the project is the establishment of the university interaction, which is now incredibly necessary and is almost the only strategically important way for the development of higher education in Ukraine under the current conditions of very limited resources, uncertainty, and constant changes in the environment.
“Digital University – Open Ukrainian Initiative” (DigiUni) represents a number of innovations designed to qualitatively change the education of Ukraine: the creation of an all-Ukrainian digital educational environment – DigiPlatform, which provides and unites digital capabilities for the creation of digital content, provides further opportunities for the placement of virtual and remote laboratories, materials for virtual and augmented reality, educational games, peer review and has self-developing artificial intelligence.
“Ukraine has already been called the Ukrainian miracle of digital transformation. The first country where 19.5 million customers use electronic documents, we have 14 digital documents in Diia. The education is extremely important for us, we are glad that today we can take specific steps in the context of positive changes in higher education and together support the implementation of such a project as the Digital University,” said Valeriya Ionan, Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine for European Integration.
Nataliia Stukalo, Deputy Head of National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance, asserted that the National Agency will be happy to join all the initiatives of the project. According to her, not all universities have yet switched to online education and have understanding that high-quality content of educational programs cannot be built solely on the basic principles of pedagogy, but we have to refocus to logic and cyber logic. Understanding this is at the heart of today’s online programs.
The project also envisages the creation of an Open Charter – DigiUni-Ukraine, the purpose of which is to unite Ukrainian universities into powerful alliances where Ukrainian universities can join and participate in platforms filled with their own materials, as well as use already available ones from European partners.
“Everything is just beginning, there are 4 years of an ambitious goal ahead. We are talking about wide access to education – both for those in Ukraine and abroad, and for foreign students, and for those who are ready to study Ukraine. The team is ready to implement its ambitious goal with the help of international partners and absolutely all stakeholders. Let’s work together!” – Svitlana Shytikova, coordinator of the National Erasmus+ Office in Ukraine, summed up the meeting.
*from the material of KNU Communications Center