Ukrainian staff report high anxiety and little institutional help

Fewer than one in three educators feels they are getting the support they need from their employer, according to survey

March 8, 2023
Workers inspect the damage after a Russian missile hits the National Technical University in Kharkiv, Ukraine to illustrate Ukrainian staff report high anxiety and little institutional help
Source: Getty

Fewer than one in three Ukrainian educators has felt strongly supported by their institution since Russia’s invasion of the country, according to a survey.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, fighting in the country, especially along its eastern border, has continued. But as millions of people try to carry on with their everyday lives, it is clear that – even away from the front lines – conditions for many teachers have deteriorated.

A survey by the non-profit group Progresylni took the pulse on working environment and stressors for 1,039 teachers, 80 per cent of whom were university lecturers, with 11 per cent working in three-year vocational institutions and another 9 per cent in schools.

For nearly 63 per cent of survey participants, who were based around the country, working conditions have worsened since the war began over a year ago. Another 35 per cent said that conditions have not changed, while just under 3 per cent reported that they have improved.

Only 30 per cent of the educators felt they were supported by administrators at their educational institution after Ukraine was invaded a year ago. Roughly 37 per cent did not feel supported and about 33 per cent felt just “partial support” from their institution.

“Such indicators demonstrate that most institutions are still just trying to survive during the war,” said Ievgeniia Shelest, an associate professor in the department of economy, management and administration at Khmelnytsky National University, who compiled the data.

The report authors found that a majority of teachers, 53 per cent of respondents, said their workload had increased significantly since the start of the war. Just under half the respondents – 47 per cent – said they lacked energy for scientific work.

Dmytro Chumachenko, an associate professor of computer science at the National Aerospace University in Kharkiv who was also involved in the survey, noted that while the results paint a negative view of the situation overall, the picture is not uniform across the country.

“Work conditions differ in different parts of Ukraine. We have respondents from all over Ukraine, some of them in displaced institutions like Kherson or Berdyansk…so working remotely for more than one year,” he said.

“It’s really challenging to have the same quality of education as before the escalation of the war.”

Yet, even as teaching work became a significant source of stress, for many it was also a coping mechanism, the researchers found.

More than half of the teachers surveyed – nearly 67 per cent – said their job provided a means of coping with feelings of anxiety and helplessness. About 61 per cent of them turned to relatives, while 19 per cent used sport for relief.

Dr Chumachenko hoped that universities could provide flexibility and support to staff in the near term, but he emphasised that their outlook needed to be focused on improving learning outcomes in the longer term.

“Institutions should concentrate on saving their quality,” he said. “We have to provide better education…after the war.”

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