Recently I have found an article about the state and trends of IT education in Ukraine. And as a graduate, I completely agree with everything I have read there. So I decided to translate the original material for people who speak English. It will make you better understand where and how the best programmers come from. The higher education in Ukraine is very different from education in USA and Europe. But it doesn't make it bad (I can say that because Ukrainian programmers are considered ones of the most professional and dedicated). It’s just another.
Education is something you face every day, doesn’t matter how old are you. But for programmers the education has a specific value – you have to constantly improve your skills to stay professional and understand the trends. Today I’d like to share with you the information about tendencies of Ukrainian IT education. In few years it will form the new IT market. So what we can say about Ukrainian IT education?
There are many universities in Ukraine that provide a good IT education. But in common, methods you can meet there are quite different from those are typical in Europe and USA. In this article, you will read about common trends and tendencies for IT education, its polarization, and its influence on the industry.
The formation of trends is influenced by a number of fundamental factors: economic, political, geographical, historical and social.
- The political factors guide the vector of educational progress in Ukraine towards the West. And this has both positive and negative consequences: here is the opportunity to learn from a more open, dynamic, flexible, viable and well-functioning system, and blind copying of what the West in due time thoughtfully copied from us. In the end, the reform of education rests on the problem of training pedagogical personnel but ignores this problem itself.
- The economic factors. IT industry develops its own requirements for the education of specialists and tries to influence education. Another thing is in the deficit of budget funds, which has already proved lethal for academic institutions. Now universities are trying to attract more income by the prospect of employment, the quality of buildings and equipment, as well as advertising, which tells about the successes of the University in international competitions or its modern management. To attract IT companies, universities are trying to create an illusion of involvement in the learning process. Sad but true.
- The geographical factor contributes to the outflow of entrants from Ukraine to neighboring states (primarily to Poland). This is a real problem for the Ukrainian IT industry.
- The historical factor is the “Soviet Union higher school”, which is not bad itself, but weakly interfaces with both Western values and Western methods. “General cheating is the common bizarre element typical for this “school”. This cheating is prohibited and punishable In the Western system. Unfortunately, the problem of “cheating does not have a methodical solution: it is impossible to completely exclude it.
Today we can highlight 5 main trends for IT education in Ukrainecommon for all universities and high schools. Here are they:
- Switch to the English language
This is a sensitive problem affects many people prefer to speak Ukrainian (for many years our mother-language was unwelcome in many fields and now it eventually experiences revival). The rules adopted in the universities of Ukraine prescribe teaching in Ukrainian. Most students welcome this, moreover, they are very sensitive to the use of the Ukrainian language. But at the same time, our universities can not provide the appropriate education for foreign students. The solution for this issue can be found in the transition to English.
- The polarization
Requirements for young children and schoolchildren are consistently declining, and future specialists are getting fewer competitive skills. This is one of two poles where the interests of the greater part of society are concentrated: most people do not see their children as scientists or in general people with brilliant knowledge. They will be satisfied, if in the future children can perform feasible and well-paid work, even staying on the third or fourth roles. Nevertheless, there is another significant part of the society wants a different future for their children. Its representatives are ready to struggle for the level of universities in their homeland to rise to world standards.
If the tendency to polarization will continue, soon we will have two parallel and polar educational systems. As the result, we might see the peaceful coexistence of universities that train specialists of fundamentally different levels. That can be observed in the West for a long time.
- Merging with the industry
The IT industry of Ukraine is concerned about the outflow of young specialists to neighboring countries. This makes companies even more actively attract the students – the IT people of tomorrow. Therefore, the industry is trying to go to universities, offers its lectures and practical exercises. However, instead of new specialists, the industry will gain new experience for sure. The ability of IT engineers to teach is underestimated. The leading American companies have such a form of interaction with universities, as a review of code written by students in educational projects. This can be considered as a good practice for IT recruiting. But it will require major changes in the educational process. However, we believe that universities will soon cooperate with market participants.
- The remote education
IT companies have dreamed of having universities offer more modern education for a long time. In other words, this modern education should provide students with the knowledge of the technology, so that they will have no need in further education after hiring. But this modern kind of education is not even foreseen in the Ukrainian universities: it will probably never be possible to teach the fast-moving technologies here. And this “dream can be realized now only with the capability of a sufficiently mobile distance education, which can close the gap between fundamental university knowledge and those technologies the knowledge of which is demanded by the modern IT industry.
- Competitions in Programming
Competing universities require obvious criteria for evaluating their own activities. By advertising themselves, they are forced to seek an understandable way of proving their worth in the whole (IT-) world. And a certain standard, which is distinguished by advanced universities, is participation in programming competitions. There is a worldwide trend in the growing importance of so-called olympiads. The success students obtain in these competitions is an objective confirmation of the IT professional training quality. Ukrainian universities already have successes at international olympiads: they are equal to the experience of leading universities. In 2017 the number of Ukrainian teams participating in international programming competitions reached 265.
The attitude of IT companies to the competitions is also evolving. For several decades, the largest of them (IBM, Apple, AT & T, Microsoft etc.) sponsored international tournaments. Recently, many companies began to make their own olympiads for the students and young graduates. It’s enough to name Microsoft Imagine Cup, Intel Modern Code Challenge, Google Code Jam, Facebook Hacker Cup. Interest in the competitions is obviously growing, both from the universities and from the industry itself.
These existing trends can be considered as a long-term. But the speed of Ukrainian IT education progress will largely depend on efforts of the IT companies operate in the market.