One more loss in a hybrid war: the elite of which nation will the Ukrainian youth become?
by Anastasiia Tokunova
My friend's daughter is four and a half years old. As I found out two months ago, besides Ukrainian, she is also learning English and German with a tutor. In addition, they are planning to start learning French right before the school. The Polish language will be added just when secondary education begins.

Truly, I was surprised. My friend has never seemed to be a mother, focused on the extra early childish development. Therefore, my first question was "Isn't it too early?". The answer was: "I want to give her a chance to go away and never see the war again. Moreover, I'd like her to leave so everything would play right for her in her life."

This conversation has strongly imprinted in my mind, but only now, when I was drafting this note for the Viadrinicum, I've got an opportunity to learn more about it.
The statistics, as probably the most objective resource of information to start the research, indicated that the problem exists indeed. According to UNESCO, the number of Ukrainians, leaving for the studies abroad, has doubled since the beginning of the armed conflict (for more details, see the infographics. Click on any graph to view an enlargement of the image).

Dynamics of Ukrainian Tertiary Students Studying Abroad
Ukrainian Tertiary Students Studying Abroad by Destination Country (2016 year)
Also, as we see, the key countries, which future Ukrainian outbound students are now focused on, are Poland and the Russian Federation.

Speaking about Russia, another reason to explain an additional interest in graduating in this country is certain complexities for enrollees, who graduated from secondary schools in the non-governmental controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, especially in the first years after the conflict beginning.

A lot of international and national actors, including human rights activists, civil society organizations, trade unions, international organizations (especially UNICEF), made efforts to avoid this situation. As a result, in 2016 a special procedure was created to give an opportunity to enter to the Ukrainian universities for the enrollees from the non-governmental controlled areas.
On the one hand, such practice had some results.
Thus, according to the Deputy Minister of Education Yuriy Rashkevich interview, thanks to this system 1,346 young people from non-government controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions successfully applied to the Ukrainian universities in 2017. Together with the students, graduating from the Crimean schools, there were 1,550 new students. On the other hand, only in non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, about 55 thousand young people were graduated that year, so it's too early to talk about fundamental changes.

The time was already lost. In addition, a large number of the potential entrants didn't want to follow the path of their predecessors, who spent a considerable amount of time and money to eventually fail as well as to lose a year after school in 2014 and 2015.

The situation was aggravated by the fact that some higher educational institutions of the Russian Federation began offering students from non-government controlled territories to enrol in a system of double diplomas through external study. In order to get also a Russian diploma, the students need to defend their works not only at the so-called republican but also at the Russian university (for example, Belgorod State Technological University, Rostov State University of Railways and Communications, Southern Federal University (Rostov-on-Don), Shahtinskii Road Institute and others).
Nevertheless, according to the mentioned above statistics, the majority of students, who decided to study abroad, are 'west-oriented' in choosing their future vocation. Perhaps, Ukrainian youth is temporarily leaving just to gain knowledge and experience abroad and to return to their home country to work and apply these skills?

Two tools were used to find the answer to this question. In particular, a questionnaire was created on the Kidstaff Advice platform (a large forum that mainly brings together the parents from all regions of the country, and also enables creating questionnaires). A request was made for parents, who have sent or planning to send round their children abroad for studies, to check the following options regarding the education abroad.

The results were distributed in infographics.

Among the comments, there were:

- My son is ten, and I am thinking about his university abroad. And I do not plan him to come back. He grows up with the thought that he must study well to leave.

... - We look towards Germany, so the German language is a must. And also programming (Mom will help)...

... - What haven't they seen yet in this country? Unjustified fees, which are growing every day? Before, at least, our food, ecology and fabrics were okay, so people used to come for these to us... And now? Oril (a river) was turned from the cleanest to the dirtiest one for the past 20 years; food is like plastic; the prices for utilities are almost the same as in Europe, and the quality is...
- I don't see my option among the proposed ones. My child has left before he graduated from the school. He will graduate from the university in Germany. And we don't see him returning
The second option, chosen for collection of attitudes towards the question, was holding the short interviews with some of students, who came from Ukraine to study abroad (12 persons (4 – European University Viadrina (Germany), 2 – Uniwersytet Warszawski (Poland), 1 – Uniwersytet Rzeszowski (Poland), 1 – University of Gdańsk (Poland), 1 – Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali «Guido Carli» (Italy), 1 – University of Ottawa (Canada), 1 – Vilnius University (Lithuania), 1 – Univerzita Karlova v Praze (Czech Republic)). All the respondents, except an Italian student, were female.
It was noted that many of them do not plan to return. Also, it was marked that often talking about this decision directly is not really welcome among the students. So, usually their groupmates are using statement like: "Maybe I'll come back if there is a good job for me. But, probably, at the nearest future won't be easy to find it in Ukraine"
In addition, it was discovered that students, who arrived just after the secondary school, consider that it is necessary to try fulfilling their potential abroad. The return is considered mostly by those, who have come for their master or post-graduate studies after having the higher education in Ukraine, but also under the certain conditions (mostly they are speaking about the necessity to find a field for the further development and self-fulfilment).
Probably, it is not too surprising. According to the psychological approach to identify the stages of a person's development (for example, see Erik Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development at the following video), precisely the age, when young people usually get their first university degree, is determinant for identifying themselves as a part of society. In the case of studying abroad, not of the Ukrainian one.
8 Stages of Development by Erik Erikson
So, there should be a strong connection with a home country not to lose one's identity when choosing a path in life and working for the future. To join this may be as strong win for Ukraine as the military one. So this is one of the main issues for the intersectoral approach that we should ensure.
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