Integrity in education and its review

High levels of spending and the important life consequences of schooling decisions make education vulnerable to integrity violations – actions by students, families, educators and public officials that infringe generally accepted values and legal norms in the pursuit of undue advantage. Integrity violations can take many forms, ranging from misuse of resources, assets and authority, to cheating and plagiarism.

National anti-corruption strategies typically propose measures that target highly visible and often criminal manifestations of misconduct. They rarely consider sector-specific forms of corruption in education, or shortcomings in education policies that drive demand and create opportunities for integrity violations.

This integrity review is designed to identify how public policies create incentives and opportunities for education providers and learners to engage in integrity violations. The reviews are not meant to point to the wrongdoing of any particular individual or organisation, or to support enforcement actions. Rather, they recommend ways to strengthen integrity and prevent corruption in education through institutional reforms and better education policies. Improvement is the purpose of the present report as well. It aims at identifying failures in the education system of Ukraine that create risks of misconduct, spurring discussion and reflection, and identifying policy options that permit further improvements.

In the chapters that follow, the report makes a distinction between integrity risks and violations. Integrity risks exist when incentives to violate laws, regulations and norms are strong – while rules, monitoring and sanctions are not. Integrity violations – also described as malpractices – occur when families, educators and officials act on these incentives, and it is possible to observe improper conduct. Evidence of integrity violations can often be difficult to obtain, and where it is lacking the report notes the presence of integrity risk, as opposed to violations.

Country background

Ukraine is faced with demographic and economic challenges that shape its opportunities for education reform. Its population of 45.4 million (2014) has declined significantly in recent decades and, owing to falling fertility rates, it is projected to decline further to 35.1 million in 2050 (UN, 2015). Large decreases in the size of its school-age population will continue to occur, creating the need for national and municipal leaders to reduce the supply of educational programmes and size of the school network, as their counterparts elsewhere in the region have done, including Lithuania and the Slovak Republic.

Ukraine’s economic growth has been highly uneven since its independence in 1991, and lower than that of many former Soviet republics. The failure to introduce structural economic and institutional reforms, curb corruption and reduce dependency on external energy resources has made the country vulnerable to external shocks and hampered economic growth. In 1990, Ukraine’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 1 570 was among the highest of the former Soviet republics and only 8% lower than Poland’s. In 2014, Ukraine’s per capita GDP of USD 3 082 was the fifth lowest among former the Soviet republics and is 4.6 times lower than that of Poland (World Bank, 2016).

More than two decades after independence, Ukraine engaged in wide-scale reforms spurred by the Euromaidan Revolution of 2014. Its reform initiatives now cover a broad range of policy areas including: anti-corruption, public procurement, decentralisation, law enforcement, deregulation and private sector development, healthcare, taxation, state administration, the financial sector, education, the energy sector, state-owned enterprises, agriculture, the justice system and national security. Anti-corruption and education sector reforms have centred on the adoption of new legislation, and the implementation of these and other reforms has proceeded slowly.

Integrity climate in Ukraine

Corruption is widely regarded to be a major barrier to Ukraine’s economic and social development and affects citizens’ trust in government institutions. The 2015 Transparency International Integrity System Assessment of Ukraine identified corruption as a “systemic problem at all levels of public administration” and observed that “both petty and grand corruption is still flourishing” (Transparency International, 2015). Opinion polls show that Ukrainians, too, are concerned about high levels of corruption in their country. The 2013 Rating Group Ukraine survey concludes that unemployment (53% of respondents) and corruption (51%) are considered to be the top problems (Rating Group Ukraine, 2013). Other national and international measurements of corruption perceptions (Table 1) show that corruption permeates daily life in Ukraine, and this perception has not improved in the last few years. Corruption is widely perceived to exist in spite of the recent government’s efforts to introduce anti-corruption legislation and bodies.

Education is a critical part of the public sector in Ukraine, whether measured in expenditure, public employment or citizens served. Public education expenditures comprised 5.9% of Ukraine’s GDP in 2014, and public and private spending on education together equal to 6.9% of GDP or USD 9 211 million (SSSU, 2014). Millions of Ukrainians participate in education as students, teachers or parents. The programmes and schools students enter and HEIs they attend have important consequences for the lives of Ukrainians, opening opportunities for social standing and entry to careers.

Education in Ukraine is a sector often perceived to be marked by corruption. According to the results of a 2013 survey conducted by Razumkov Centre, state authorities in general and judiciary and law enforcement agencies in particular are widely believed to be very corrupt. Among public services, respondents believe that corruption is pervasive or widespread in health (85%), higher education (77%) and secondary education (53%) (see Figure 1).

Table 1. International assessments of corruption in Ukraine








Corruption Perceptions Index (1)

Rating: 134/178

Score: 2.4/10

Rating: 152/183

Score: 2.3/10

Rating: 144/176

Score: 26/100

Rating: 144/177

Score: 25/100

Rating: 144/177

Score: 25/100

Rating: 130/168

Score: 27/100

Freedom House, Nations in Transit, “Corruption” Indicator (2)







World Bank “Control of corruption” Indicator (3)







World Economic Forum “Irregular payments and bribes” Indicator (4)


2010-11 Rating: 127/151

Score: 2.8/7

2011-12 Rating: 133/151

Score: 2.7/7

2012-13 Rating: 130/151

Score: 2.8/7

2013-14 Rating: 118/151

Score: 3/7


1. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be. It is a composite index, drawing on corruption-related data from expert and business surveys carried out by a variety of independent and reputable institutions. In 2010-11, scores ranged from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean). In 2012-15, scores range from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

2. The rating reflects the consensus of Freedom House, its academic advisers and the author(s) of the Nations in Transit report. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest.

3. Control of Corruption captures perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as “capture” of the state by elites and private interests. Percentile rank indicates the country’s rank among all countries covered by the aggregate indicator, with 0 corresponding to lowest rank, and 100 to highest rank. Percentile ranks have been adjusted to correct for changes over time in the composition of the countries covered by the World Governance Indicators.

4. Average score across the five components of the following Executive Opinion Survey question: “In your country, how common is it for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with (a) imports and exports; (b) public utilities; (c) annual tax payments; (d) awarding of public contracts and licenses; (e) obtaining favorable judicial decisions? In each case, the answer ranges from 1 [very common] to 7 [never occurs]”.

Source: Transparency International (2015), National Integrity System Assessment: Ukraine 2015, Transparency International Ukraine,; Transparency International (2016), Corruption Perceptions Index 2015,; World Bank (2016), World Bank Open Data,; Freedom House (2016), Nations in Transit,; World Economic Forum (2016), The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016,

Figure 1. Scale of corruption in different sectors according to Ukrainians (%)

Source: Razumkov Centre (2013), Opinion Poll “To What Extent Is the Corruption Widespread in the Following Sectors?” 2013,

Anti-corruption reforms

One of the main demands put forward by the Euromaidan Revolution of 2014 was to make the fight against corruption a top priority of the new government.

In late 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted an Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2014-17 and a package of anti-corruption legislation. Governmental deliberations in the development of these laws included public consultations and a close collaboration with the civil society, both of which represented an important step forward. The new legislation laid the foundation for enhancing integrity in the public service, the establishment of new anti-corruption bodies, the co-ordination of anti-corruption policy development and implementation, and the reform of judicial and prosecutorial systems. In 2016 all state procurements were to be transferred to ProZorro, a new web-based electronic platform; a reform expected to make the public procurement process more transparent. Finally, Ukraine harmonised its criminal law in line with international standards criminalising all corruption violations (OECD, 2015).

The new legislative reforms also established the National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). The NACP is the central executive body in charge of the development and implementation of the state anti-corruption policy. It reports to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and is controlled by the parliament. The NABU, which started its activities in December 2015, is a state law enforcement agency in charge of “prevention, detection, suppression, investigation and solving of corruption offenses under its competence, as well as prevention of committing the new ones” (OECD, 2015).

Although the Ukrainian public perceives education to be corrupt, the anti-corruption reforms to date have not focused on the sector in a systematic way. Examining the integrity in education in Ukraine to put forward recommendations for action is therefore an important and overdue task.


Freedom House (2016), Nations in Transit,

OECD (2015), Anti-Corruption Reforms in Ukraine: Round 3 Monitoring of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Rating Group Ukraine (2013), Public Opinion Survey - Residents of Ukraine: May 2013, International Republican Institute,

Razumkov Centre (2013), Opinion Poll “To What Extent Is the Corruption Widespread in the Following Sectors?” 2013,

SSSU (2014), National Education Accounts in Ukraine, State Statistics Service of Ukraine, Kyiv.

Transparency International (2016), Corruption Perceptions Index 2015,

Transparency International (2015), National Integrity System Assessment: Ukraine 2015, Transparency International Ukraine,

United Nations (2015), World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables, Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.241, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York,

World Bank (2016), World Bank Open Data,

World Economic Forum (2016), The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, World Economic Forum, Geneva,