Responding to challenge: “Univercities of the third age” in context of public governance in Ukraine

Arthur Horbovyy

Rector of Volyn Institute for

Economics and Management,

Professor, Doctor in Engineering,

Lutsk, Ukraine


The principal objective of this publication is analysis of development and implementation of Public policy of social inclusion of elderly people in Ukraine. The practical issues can be discussed on the science-grounded basis of concept of Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age. 

This paper investigates the problems of development of system of non-formal education of elderly people in Ukraine, taking into account the conditions of demographic crisis in the country, growing risks of social exclusion and late-life inequality of the senior people.

According to the analysis of current demographic situation in Ukraine and evaluation of the national tendencies of its development, the part of population at the age of 60 and older was 21% – in 2001, and by 2050 it is expected to be more than 30% (according to the prognosis). Now the number of people in Ukraine who are socially excluded is about 20%. Economical abruption consists of 28%, social one – 36%, exclusion from the participation in civil and public life or networks also equals 36 %. The reduction of the quality of labor power is the consequence of such processes. The intellectual potential of elderly people is not used completely that is why there is the necessity of implementation of national programs to increase social activity and communication of elderly people, the level of their health and physical activity, and also the education for their integration into social life that is crucial both for national and regional levels.

Ageing becomes the national tendency in Ukraine. Senior people have life and professional experience, though they are slowly adapt to different innovations and changes. In Ukraine challenges for the creation of “Universities of the Third Age” occurred in 2008 under the initiatives of the project “Support of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan – Ageing in Ukraine” with its ideology of “Universities of the Third Age: the older generation in modern information environment”. Nowadays the history of these universities in Ukraine counts more and more institutions. They have been established with the aim to give a support to the senior people, who have an active life stance and also to increase the quality of social services for them.

This paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of Public governance concept of development of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age in Ukraine.

Literature Review

Methodologically and empirically the increased recognition of development of system of education for elderly people based on the concept of Public governance has become particularly important in Ukraine. The science-grounded basis of the discussed problem compose of research works of leading specialists of the Institute of Demography and Social Studies (E. Libanova, A. Makarova,                   S. Pyrozhkov, A. Pozniak, P. Shevchuk, L. Cherenko) in the analysis and evaluation of demographic risks of Ukraine in the XXI century, trends and consequences of ageing, social inclusion strategy. The problem of improving the quality of education has been studied by I. Vakarchuk, B. Flint,                                 A. Drobnokhod, S. Nikolaenko.

Analysis leads to the conclusion that the theoretical and methodological foundations of the problem of forming social inclusion policy in Ukraine, aimed at initiating positive change in integrating the senior people into society through the change of perception of the old and the introduction of the concept of lifelong learning is incorporated in the works of Ukrainian scientists (N. Didenko,                       O. Lybchuyk, V. Kutsenko, N. Nyzhnyk, O. Novikova, A. Khaletskaya) and foreign researchers (John Birrena, D. Bromley, S. Hall, K. Shayye, J. Stuart-Hamilton).

Methodology is based on the concept of Public governance of system of education for adults, the institutional and academic researchers’ analysis.


At the beginning of the XXI century world faces a global problem of “aging society” that  needs solution and:

  • Increase budget spending on health care.
  • Provide long-term care for the elderly.
  • Revise the pension system.

Besides, changes in family structures and the  increasing  participation of women on the labor market have meant shifts from the responsibility of family with its taking care for the elderly towards government institutions’ one.

According to statistics, annually the number of elderly people in the world has increased by 2.4%.  According to some forecasts, by 2020 the number of older people could increase to 1 billion people. Recent demographic data show that the world is currently undergoing a demographic transformation: today one in ten people in the world is 60 years old and even older, and  by 2050 it is expected to be one in fifth in this age group [Smolnytskaya, E.]. Most of demographers confirm the irreversibility of this process stating that the world has already entered at the “age of the elderly”.

On the one hand, the improvements of the socio-economic status of the population and socio-hygienic situation allow the seniors to extend the number of years free of disability, keep active way of living and participate in the economic and cultural life of society. On the other hand, the dynamics of society development and rapid changes in social life of individual in the context of demographic changes and significant technical as well as information progress require a high level of adaptation of older age groups, in particular obtaining and maintaining:

  • Long-life learning, or learning throughout life.
  • Late-life e
  • Late-life stable level of income.
  • Late-life social status.
  • Social support, and late-life social security.

In turn, the improvement of the economic and social situation of the elderly provides a strengthening of their health.

Involvement of active learning and employment of the retirement age people are mutually beneficial to the state and to every man. Government measures aimed at active participation of the senior people in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the community, an opportunity to show and express them, to use their talents and knowledge accumulated over the years to prevent age discrimination.

One of the strategic government directions is the development of systems of Life- long learning (in brief – LLL) and Learning throughout life (in brief – LTL) that are the main components of the European social model. These learning systems are not limited to the education sector. They are also critical factors in the areas of late-life employment, social security and competitiveness.

These concepts are focused on the senior people in the context of the provision of late-life employment and based on the constant changes in demand in the labor market that caused by the acceleration of scientific and technological progress.

The fact that annually about 5% of theoretical and 20% of professional knowledge have been updated means that intervals of 5 or 6 years between training for the professionals is inappropriate for the personal development and late-life competitive advantage [National institute of gerontology named by D. Chebotareva]. And for the elderly – it’s a problem of social exclusion and late-life inequality. It can be solved with development of system of non-formal education of elderly people in Ukraine as well as the equal and open access to quality education. That needs improvements of the system of adult education, development of new knowledge, skills and competencies.

Despite the fact that the concepts of LLL and LTL have been included into national policies of developed countries, their practical promotion has not associated yet with coherent policies of late-life education and employment. In Ukraine aforementioned learning strategies have not been defined yet as the government’s  priorities in the field of life-long education and employment. The solution is in the development and implementation of Public policy of social inclusion of elderly people.

Basics of concept of Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age are as follow:

  • Democratization of the educational process.
  • Social Security of all participants of the educational process.
  • Active public involvement at the national, regional and local levels.
  • Broad support of innovative development of education through targeted programs, priority funding of innovative projects, implementation of new technologies.
  • Association and Partnership inside public education (associations of educators, conferences, seminars, volunteers), etc.

The current concept of Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age requires effective mechanisms for its implementation with:

  • Development and modernization of system of adult education.
  • Improvement of the content, forms and methods of adult education activities.
  • Preparation, adoption and implementation of regulations for adult education on the national and regional level that can stimulate the initiative of educational institutions.

Besides the Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age needs to be more innovative.

Innovative approaches to adult education, the elderly in particular, require:

  • Creation of innovative research and public education area oriented at the regional level (for educational institutions).
  • Implementation of innovative approaches, forms, principles, methods, both in the educational process and in the management of education on a systematic basis.

Much remains to be understood about the pattern of national support program of the Universities of the Third Age in Ukraine.

 It is clear that education and training are central to the determination of quality of the late- life period. The current and future elderly need widespread forms of adult education as universities of the Third Age, the program of “electronic citizen”, “open” universities that serve to promotion of the ideas of social and educational activity of the elderly and late-life equality. And quality criteria for adult education can also influence the overall level of effective system of education of people of the “third age” and they should be primarily considered in terms of quality indicators.

According to statistics, in 1993, a man could manage 1/1000 of existing information, while in 2003 – 1/2000, and in 2013 – 1/4000. There is a rapid decline of human capabilities. Thus, on the 70-s of the XX century the volume of scientific information has doubled every 5-7 years, and on the 80-s of the XX century it has doubled every year and 8 months [National Service of Statistics of Ukraine]. At the beginning of the XXI century, the volume of scientific information doubles every year.

In this connection there will be some tendencies in renewing information at the end of the twentieth century to the present time. They are as follow:

  • Constant development of information and technical means of communication.
  • Processing of huge amounts of information in a limited period of time.
  • Increasing the role of higher education as one of the necessary stages of socialization.
  • Ability to master multiple professions during adulthood.

All mentioned above leads to an increase of requirements for mental abilities of a man, not only in his youth, but in the middle and old ages.
The problem of the quality of education, its effectiveness begins to be seen in the context of the changes that occur in the society.

The effectiveness of adult education depends on many factors, in particular:

  • Theoretical educational paradigm that defines the use of scientific research, approaches, concepts, technologies, methods, techniques, training, etc.
  • Introduction of innovative technologies and training methods.
  • Individual choice of forms of training, training programs, their duration, etc.
  • Implementation of verification, validation, selection, pedagogical innovations.
  • Implementation of educational monitoring.

Besides the account of subjective factors can increase the effectiveness of adult education.

Provision of effective educational services for the senior people includes:

  • Investigation of psychological and personality features of adult people.
  • Study of the educational needs of adult people in Ukraine.
  • Development of appropriate psycho-physiological capabilities of learning technologies and methods for adult people.
  • Implementation of psychological and pedagogical expertise of effectiveness of adult education.

Complexity of changes in the psychological and social life while the transition to the old age are conventionally divided by the researchers into the actual age-related changes (psychic and somatic), social costs and their social and psychological consequences (changes in perception of social roles in family and society; loss of usual place on the social scale; violation of communications; restriction of interests; loss of the sense of life, etc.) [Semberova, J.].

An elderly man at the age of 70-80 stands on the threshold of biological time limit determined by hereditary and individual properties. Therefore, one of the main objectives of the government is to improve the quality of life of older people, help them to adapt to the social and psychological changes in their lives, in particular:

  • Adaptation to a decrease of physical strength and health deterioration.
  • Adaptation to retirement and reduced income.
  • Adaptation to the death of a spouse.
  • Establishing strong links with their age group.
  • Implementation of social and civic engagement.
  • Ensuring the appropriate conditions of life.
  • Access to information resources.
  • Extension of mobility.
  • Involvement to interaction with public authorities via the Internet, etc.

There is a need to form a common conceptual framework for social inclusion and human development of the senior people in Ukraine.
In this regard, this paper promotes the mechanisms that shape Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age, in particular:

  • Development and implementation of innovative methods and programs for the senior people to ensure the formation of modern skills for their integration into society by “digital literacy”.
  • Introduction of “innovative non-linear pedagogy” to solve the problem of “aging society”.

Consequences of implementation of Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age are as follow:

  • Promotion of “Life-Long Learning” concept to the increased number of the senior people.
  • Development of partnership between formal, non-formal and informal education.
  • Implementation of innovative forms of training for the senior people, such as: workshops (courses in computer science, Ukrainian and foreign languages, management, healthy lifestyle, etc.); involvement of leading experts from specialty profile, etc.
  • Involvement of volunteers.
  • Involvement of internal organizational and training courses for staff attached to the procurement and provision of “alternative” educational services.
  • Participation in international projects with EU partners as well as organization of conferences, promotional events, publications in mass media and scientific collections and so on.

Evidently, government efforts are mostly devoted to retirement programs, but less – to forms of assistance of the senior people. For the elderly in late-life period the quality of their lives is mostly shaped by the set of their life events, i.e. occupational and labor-force participation history. Less and less it is related to where they started from, but from economic circumstances that are not predictable in long-term prospective. The early advantages of Public governance of system non-formal education of the Universities of the Third Age will be determined by effectiveness of interaction of societal institutions with the senior people.

It is imperative to recognize the opportunities of the senior people contribute to society and improve their own lives. This principle has been formulated as the basic one of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.

The practical issues of this paper can be discussed on the basis of evidence that elaboration and implementation of educational programs according to the specificity of the audience with regards to the European standards of sustainable development need:

Realization of science-grounded concept of Public governance of adult education in Ukraine.

Involvement of resources to give support to the senior people and increase the quality of late-life social services on the basis of concept of Public governance.



Smolnytskaya, E. 2010.  Medical, social, psychological and economic aspects of the elderly’s employment. Available at: (last accessed 14.08.2014).

National institute of  gerontology named by D.Chebotareva. Available at: (last accessed 14.08.2014).

National Service of Statistics of Ukraine. Available at: (last accessed 14.08.2014).

Institute of Demography and Social Studies named by M.Ptuha. Available at: (last accessed 18.08.2014 ).

Semberova, J. 2011. Opportunities and perspectives of lifelong learning in older age. In: “A bulletin of the European cooperation project e-Learning in Later life. – e-LLL “2006-2008”. Available at: (last accessed 20.06.2014).

UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund. Available at: (last accessed 24.08.2014).

Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. Available at: accessed 30.08.2014).

Цей проект фінансується за підтримки Єврокомісії. Зміст цієї публікації є предметом відповідальності автора та не відображає точку зору Європейської комісії.

Опубліковано в категорії: Новини проекту and tagged , , , , .