The choice of study language is a vital decision students need to make during their journey of studying in Ukraine. As is expected, most students prefer to study in languages that are native to them, for example English language for native English speakers. However, while some courses are available for study in English language, a good majority of the courses are only available for study in the native Ukrainian or Russian language. This article is not about the courses available for study in English or the native Russian language, but some vital information the student ought to know prior to making a decision on the language choice, when such a choice exists. We’ll start with the historical evolution.
Ukraine, as a former Soviet republic was part of an exchange program operated by the former Soviet Union, in which international students of member countries were offered scholarship education. With Russian language as the central medium of communication amongst the Soviet states, student beneficiaries of the scholarship exchange program had to go through a mandatory one year intensive language program in order to acquire the language proficiency required for enrolling into the main university program.
This meant a Russian language foundation course and in other subjects having direct relevance to the student’s future course of interest. This resulted to an additional one year in the student’s overall study period, with a reward of an additional certificate of proficiency in Russian language upon successful completion of the degree program.
With the break up of the Soviet Union, many hitherto member countries of the Soviet Union could not sustain the scholarship program, and had to introduce a payment module for international students, and also started introducing the use of their indigenous native languages besides the former central Russian language. In Ukraine, Ukrainian language was introduced as an official national language, became adopted in schools and universities and is gradually replacing Russian language as a study language.
International Students Called Out:
With international students having to henceforth pay for their tuition, came the request from these students to introduce foreign languages such as English language, for study purposes. Some universities responded, and introduced this in the most popular faculties amongst international students. First, this was in the medical faculties, and later to computer science / engineering and gradually into some social science / management courses. Notice the use of “some universities”, as even presently, many universities are yet to introduce foreign language as a means of study, and even those that have, do not have such provision in many other courses not so popular amongst foreign students.
It is important to note that these faculties were set up specifically to cater for the international students’ community, as it is still mandatory for indigenous Ukrainians to study in the native language. Due to the obvious additional logistics and cost implications, these faculties are usually more expensive than their counterparts in the native language.
The three most popular languages for teaching mediums became the native Ukrainian / Russian language, and English language where available. International students are at a liberty of choosing amongst any of these for studies whenever applicable.
With an understanding of the background evolution, let us look at the comparative peculiarities of studying in English language and in the native Russian of Ukrainian language
English language Peculiarities:
– Studying in a familiar language, with ease of understanding for native speakers of the language.
– No need for a one year language program, saving time and associated cost.
– Easy professional integration in an English language society, being already conversant with professional terminologies.
– More expensive than same course in the native language, excluding the cost of language program.
– Losing the chance to learn from established professors, who can only deliver lectures in the native language
– Poor networking and cultural integration with fellow Ukrainian students, as the faculties are set up specifically for foreigners
Russian Language Peculiarities:
– Less expensive for the same course in English language
– Soft landing for international students enabling better integration and acclimatization prior to enrollment into the main program
– Good knowledge of another foreign language, with an additional certificate of proficiency offered upon graduation
– Study with indigenous citizens enabling better integration and future networking with professional colleagues
– Chance to learn from seasoned professors, with vast knowledge and years of experience
– Additional Time spent on learning the language with associated cost:
– Need for terminology familiarization upon practice in English language society.
Comparative Financial Analysis of Tuition for English and Russian program for a course, Computer Engineering, studied in English language and in the native language for the 2010 academic year in the Donetsk National Technical University (DonTU). The arbitrary choice of DonTU for analysis is due to their narrow gap in the tuition fees for the same course in English and the native language.
Comparative Tuition Analysis For Same Course Studied In English and Native Language At DonTU
|Year||English Language (€)||Russian Language (€)|
|First Year Tuition||€1850||€1700|
|Second Year Tuition||€1850||€1700|
|Third Year Tuition||€2000||€1850|
|Fourth Year Tuition||€2000||€1850|
Difference: €(8250- €7700) = €550
Integrating an estimated annual upkeep and accommodation fee of $1500, the total price for a lifetime knowledge of an additional language, that could serve as a professional business and career instrument with an additional certificate of proficiency issued upon completion are €550, $1500 and additional one academic year. If the language program is considered as an independent lifetime investment in the acquisition of language skills, obviously studying in the native language becomes comparatively cheaper.
Note however, that the above amount will be less for other universities with wider margin in tuition differences for the same course in native or foreign language.
Spotlight on Medical Students:
With special emphasis on medical students, it is common knowledge that they spend a good proportion of their academic time with patients during clinical. Effective communication with patients have been identified as a challenge to most medical students studying in English, as their patients are natives that do not speak English language. Additional effort are made by these students to have an effective communication especially in their early academic years.
Identifying this, the Jordan government recently made it mandatory for all Jordan medical students coming to study in Ukraine to go through a mandatory language program even if they will eventually study in English language. This enables the medical students gain more knowledge in the native language required for effective communication with patients during clinical.
Usually, international students that opt to study in English are taken for their words, without any test of language proficiency. However, it was recently observed that many of such students are not so knowledgeable in the command of the language. As a result, some universities are currently introducing an English language proficiency test, and only students that pass the test are allowed to continue their studies in English language. Students that fail the test will have to enroll for their program in the native language, after a language program.
English language, as a study language in Ukraine, is relatively recent and was introduced to cater specifically for the international students’ community. As a result, the introduction was targeted at courses of high demand by foreign students such as medicine and computer science / engineering. As Ukraine’s popularity grew as a destination for quality and affordable higher education, more universities started adopting the use of English language as a teaching medium and in other courses of increasing demand by international students.
The English language counterpart of a course is more expensive compared to the same course studied in the native language. Considering the inclusion of an additional year in the language study, the overall financial implication might not end up being cheaper for a course studied in the native language, compared to when studied in English language. However, this is when the language program is viewed purely as a gateway to a degree program, a role that is just one of many.
The acquired language first serves as an educational tool. However, the knowledge is not lost, even after graduation, and continues to be instrumental as a career and business tool for life. Lectures delivered by seasoned professors with years of experience are mostly available in the native language. The socio-cultural integration of studying with the natives also provides an immense networking instrument, a resource that will become invaluable and priceless in many years to come.
When available, studying in English language obviously leads to time conservation and saving the associated cost. Combined with the ease of understanding for students from native / official English language speaking countries, it is a good decision as a language study choice. However, the long term benefits of studying in the native language justifies the additional time and resource investment. The additional certificate of proficiency issued upon graduation could be the one single defining factor separating the student from the crowd, in a competitive selection environment. It can also be an invaluable networking and business tool that will come in handy in the future life, as a professional.
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