Ukraine: Want an “A”? Pay $30!

When Ukrainian news site reported last week that Kyiv street cleaners would be receiving $400 a month beginning this June, a number of readers confessed that they were earning less working as college lecturers or medical doctors. How some skilled Ukrainians manage to survive on their meager salaries was highlighted five days later, when ran a piece (RUS) about a Ternopil college lecturer who had told her students they were to pay her to pass their exams.

She had set the following rates: $10 for a C, $20 for a B, and $30 for an A. Although she ended up failing in her endeavor to supplement what little she was being paid (she was arrested while accepting a $130 bribe), hers isn't a singular case, and most seem to go unpunished.

To the readers who have commented on the story, corruption at Ukrainian colleges appears to be a familiar subject: hardly anyone was shocked by the Ternopil lecturer's crime, but many found it surprising that the woman was charging so little.

Below are some of these comments, translated from Russian and Ukrainian:

Anonymous: Cheap. There was no use for the students to turn her in.


Authorized!: This isn't news, […] similar rates have existed at [Simferopol] Medical University and Foreign Languages Institute since the 1990s, only they were higher and applied to the entrance exam grades as well as the grades received throughout the semester and at regular exams, and everyone knew about it (a note: I didn't study at either of these institutions).

Morfius: Well, the rates are sort of low… I'm just comparing them to those in the capital…

Aleks: The rates are pretty low compared to the KPI [Kyiv Polytechnical University]… Though it isn't clear what class she taught… Maybe her rates were appropriate – if she taught something [as irrelevant] as Comparative Analysis of the World Religions […].

kievanton: They'll still continue to pay if their heads are empty (95 percent of the students are like this). And this, at least, was cheap.


Veselin: Our dean's initials are D.G. and he has been given a tender nickname – Daite Groshi [“Give me money,” in Ukrainian] – because everyone knows about the rates he's set [for those who wish to pass the exams]. And despite this, he keeps working…

esche kruche!: In Kyiv, one has to pay not a small sum to get enrolled into a normal [secondary] school (not even a university)… It's sad…

Kiev: Our bribes are bigger, but everyone's silent about it. Why? Because the heads are empty!

Recap: People at the forum are deeply outraged. And not by the fact of the bribe itself, as those damn bourgeois democrats could have thought, but by its size. The most important thing here is to defend the honor of one's alma mater, which is ahead of the world's best colleges in terms of the size of the bribes – and not just ahead of some Ternopil. This is the way we live.

Sanya: Eh, you should have visited the [Bukovyna] Medical Institute… $500 for the state exam!!! I […] think that quality education isn't possible when professors teach badly deliberately so that they could grab a bribe afterwards. And the state has got to understand that the best way to fight bribery is to give teachers decent salaries – because the biggest share of the teachers’ and state officials’ incomes – as well as those of the doctors, sad as it is – is made up of bribes! This is exactly what the shadow economy is – no one has introduced a tax on bribes so far, right, and the amount of money that's there is huge!


kava: Unfortunately, few people understand the moral of this tragic story. The lecturer is obviously not an evil extortionist, because if she were, she'd be demanding large sums of money. Perhaps she didn't have enough money to survive, and so she was forced to do what she did. Ours is a crazy country. After the election two years ago, I remember how they gave a prison sentence to a young woman somewhere in the East for messing up the ballots at a polling station. Maybe she's serving her sentence now. And those who organized all these bad things are still pretending to be politicians. How disgusting it all is. And no one cares – we are sailing along with the stream, hoping that we'll end up getting somewhere…


  • As a visitor to Ukraine, I thought everyone knew about these tribute payments in education. Solution: wrap a few notes around blank paper, grab diploma and run for the gates. So I’ve been told.

  • Outsider

    The morale of this thing is that teachers take bribes like its part of their curriculum. That is why Ukrainian education system is so horrible. And those who are saying that teachers need to get paid more, I got one thing for you – Did bribes just start or were they during the soviet time when they were making good salaries? Yes, the teachers were demanding bribes long time ago, and they are getting greedier and greedier. If they aren’t smart enough to manage their own finances then they should find some other job that pays more, because being a teacher isn’t a minimum wage job even at current salaries.

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  • Whilst it is reported as being a common practice and one that undermines the value of education legitimate learned it should also be stated that many people do not pay bribes to succeed in their educational pursuit. I know a number of students who have recently graduated and when I asked them did they pay any bribes the answer was no.

    one aspect that did concern me when I recently attended my friends graduation as a foreign student studying medicine was the fact that the Ukrainian Students had a very elaborate graduation ceremony involving the whole faculty and all the students. The ceremony came to a end before the foreign students were issued their degrees. Foreign Students, many whose parents traveled thousands of miles, were issued their degrees at a makeshift table whilst the stage and sound system was being dismantled around them. A quick second rate photo opportunity with the dean and that was it. Why they were not included in the main event I have no idea. it certainly left a bitter taste in the eyes of many foreign students and their guests.

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