Post-Soviet anti-corruption reforms in higher education: Explaining the success of external independent testing in Ukraine

  • Eduard Klein
Keywords: Anti-Corruption, higher education, civil-society advocacy, external assessment, external democracy promotion, Ukraine


Corruption during university admission has become an endemic phenomenon in many post-Soviet states. In the last decade, most countries in the region reformed their admission system and implemented external exams to combat corruption and provide equal access to qualitative education. Ukraine introduced its External Independent Testing (EIT) in 2008. Despite a non-favourable socio-political context, experts and the majority of citizens regard the EIT as one of the most successful reforms in Ukraine. How can this positive outcome be explained? The paper argues that in addition to the distinctive political will of key stakeholders and the involvement of domestic NGOs in the reform implementation, external democracy promotion programs which fostered capacity building were a decisive factor for the success. To prove this claim, the article traces the reform process, focusing on the impact of the main external actors.