When Ukrainian news site Korrespondent.net 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 Korrespondent.net 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…