– Dr. Andrey Melkov about post soviet realities of education in Ukraine and Russia
1. Where did you study (speciality, department)?
I was educated at doctoral studies (habilitation) of Sts. Cyril and Methody Uzhhorod Ukrainian Theological Academy. Speciality – Church history, Department of Biblical studies, Church history and theoretical theology.
2. Why did you choose exactly that Academy? What kinds of documents were required? Was it difficult?
My choice was facilitated by several circumstances.
Firstly, despite the fact that I’m from Russia, I have a long cooperation with Ukrainian educational and scientific organizations within realisation united projects, I engage in public diplomacy and I’m well acquainted with the problems of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
Secondly, nowadays in Russia it’s impossible to defend dissertation and get the diploma in the area of theological disciplines and specialities. Even diplomas of religious seminaries are not accepted by the state, not to mention theological dissertations. Sts. Cyril and Methody Uzhhorod Ukrainian Theological Academy has become the first high religious educational institution in Ukraine, which gives an opportunity to prepare and defend dissertations according to the demands of the Ministry of education and science. When the new law of Ukraine «On Higher Education» was adopted, scientific degrees and academic statuses given by high religious educational institutions are considered to be equal to corresponding documents, which are given in established procedures.
That’s why the defences of the doctoral dissertation in theology in Ukrainian high religious educational institution get the diploma, officially admitted by the government and broaden the possibility for further researching and educational work.
The documents for the enrolments to the doctoral studies (habilitation) corresponded to the specificity of the educational institute but differed from a standard one. It was necessary to adduce a written recommendation from Kyiv and whole Ukraine Metropolitan, a certificate about Baptism, diplomas about high education, including a theological seminary degree and a diploma of PhD, a list of scientific publications on the subject of dissertational research, autobiography and reference from the place of my work.
3. What is the difference between the Ukrainian and Russian system of education?
In spite of the fact, that either Ukrainian or Russian high system of education came from general Soviet educational system, they have certain differences.
So, studying according to the graduate programme in the Ukrainian high schools goes on one half ears, but it makes two years in Russia. The transition to the Bologna Process has been realized earlier in Russia than in Ukraine, but in Russia this system is not enough approved. Legislation in the field of high education in Ukraine reflects European practise. It concerns, for instance, licensing and accreditation of educational programme in the speciality of “Theology”, establishment and operation post-graduate, doctoral studies, specialised scientific council of high religious educational institution in the area of knowledge “Theology”. Eventually, Russian high educational system has none of that all.
4. How did you usually spent your educational day?
My doctoral education provided for my work in the libraries, archives, writing issues of the dissertation, communication with my scientific consultant, preparing articles, monographs, participation in the research conferences. Generally, this work was carried out remotely. But, of course, I took part in Academy’s research activates – I made reports, represented the Academy in different scientific events and forums.
5. What is your favourite subject (why)?
Surely, it’s Church History. I have been interested in it since my student years. Church History practically was not studied and it’s methology was actually absent in the post-Soviet expanse because of the dictates of Marxism and historical materialism in historical science for decades. At present, it’s necessary to fill this serious gap in science.
6. Which project did you work at?
My dissertation was devoted to the research of life and scientific heritage of archpriest Alexander Gorsky (1812–1875), Moscow Theological Academy’s rector, outstanding clergyman, church historian, divine and specialist in archaeography.
7. What were the most impressive things in the mentality of the people in Ukraine?
I respect and admire the feat of Ukrainian people. I saw the Academy’s students and professors stand together for defeating European and Christian values taking active part in public Veches, which took place in Uzhhorod and Kyiv. Most of all I was impressed by exactly this feature of Ukrainians going together till the end to the Victory as well as their fortitude and great love to their Motherland.
8. What are your impressions on the town, student campus and academic institution? How did you settle down? Which preferences and bonuses have the students of your educational organization?
Uzhhorod is a very beautiful and cosy town, situated in the very west of Ukraine, bordering on the Slovak Republic. The Academy has all the opportunities for comfortable and students’ habitation. In the connection of the fact that Uzhhorod is a small town, the students’ dormitory is located not far from the educational building. Considering the Academy to be a religions educational institution, all he students have various obedience’s: singing in the choir, praying in the Academy’s church. There is also an opportunity to take part in pilgrimages and get acquainted with the life of other religious confessions.
9. How do the students of your high school rest?
Just like all ordinary students, they go for walks, communicate, listen to the different music, play football, in winter they are found of skiing and skating. Anyway, they try not to forget, that they are students of religious high school and they exemplify their behaviours of the folks about them and the whole society as well.
10. What is your opinion about Russian and Ukrainian educational systems’ abilities and do we need Europeanization of this system?
First of all, the system should respond its main requirement to give qualitative professional education. Unfortunately, Russia and Ukraine face the same problems there. Dismantling of the old Soviet system in favours of the European one has been done too early. That’s how we last many old school system’s achievements but didn’t succeed in the development of the European system’s advantages. Sometimes we had the worst Soviet examples left and the best European ones rejected. For instance, in Russia and Ukraine the scientific degree is still set by the government but not by the university itself. Such a necessary principle as the autonomy of a high school is also almost undeveloped. An absolute control by the government makes for the growth of bureaucracy and formalism, which affects an educational process and the development of universities in a negative way.
Of course, in this case the system needs to be Europeanized and liberalized. Though, we should make a completely different approach to the reformation of high education. I’m sure we will get power and abilities to afford it.