Mykola Kovalenko, Vice -Rector for Research, Educational, Economic and Innovation Work:
First of all, it should be noted that the University is essentially a family for me, because I graduated from the Economic Department here. It happened in 1991 and the former Rector Ivan Mykolaiovych Bryukhovetsky probably saw my certain potential and suggested to create the department of planning and finance. I headed it, realizing in practice the ideas of Ivan Mykolaiovych, rather progressive and innovative at that time. Thus, we were the first in Sumy region who started to teach fee-paying students, and in 1995 the quantity of budget and commercial funds were almost identical. And only after that Pedagogical and Polytechnic Institutes adopted our experience. Previously no one's ever done anything like that for all educational establishments were 100% financed from the budget.
But the introduction of a fee-paying form of education was not the only thing we’d done. Thus, we regained possession of a boiler-house, the university property that we had built, and since gas was cheaper then we earned also by supplying heat and saved our own funds. We introduced joinery production at our carpentry, finished wood, built greenhouses, cultivated land, in other words we learned to earn money by all available means besides the basic work of teaching students.
As you know, in 1997 the University leadership changed, Oleksandr Tsarenko became the Rector. He offered me the post of Vice - Rector for Finance. Then, since 1999, I’d been working in Sumy regional state administration; my task was to reform the agricultural sector. We managed to enter the top five best regions in the agricultural sector within 2 years. Then I received an award from the Cabinet of Ministers on the results of my work.
When I worked as the first Deputy General Director, Finance Director at Kharkiv tractor plant, and it was very useful and positive experience. For a year and a half a potentially loss-making company, which received a monthly loss of 10-15 million, became profitable.
My next place of work became a public joint stock company “Bread of Ukraine”. The task was not easy: to eliminate a debt of 1 billion 146 million UAH within six months. But with the change of top management in the country I placed myself in a situation, that in order to remain in the current position, I had to join the party. But I always stayed out of politics, I am a producer, that’s why I resigned and went into business where I’d been working from 2005 to 2011. I earned some capital, which I’ve been using by now.
Rector Volodymyr Ladyka offered me the post of Vice-Rector for Research, Educational, Economic and Innovation Work at Sumy National Agrarian University probably because we have known each other and worked together for a long period, we have the same approach for implementing the ideas, creating a team, and we have a lot in common. I'm sure, Volodymyr Ivanovych is the head who can make our educational establishment a leader.
As far as my vision of the mission as Vice - Rector for financial activities is concerned, I have the task to organize a detailed analysis of SNAU financial activities, compilation of economic forecasts etc. I have a clear plan: the first stage, which will last 2 or 3 months, is a systematization of using labor, material and financial resources; and since July we are planning to implement a system optimization related to saving resources and regulation of labor relations. And at the same time – to develop the additional revenue system. One of the steps is to increase the number of foreign students. I am sure that this year we will stabilize the financial situation. We are planning to create a transitional balance because the flow of financial resources at the University is not equitable, it varies – the problems usually arise in the first and third quarters and stabilize in the second and the fourth.
Besides, we pay attention to the production: we are going to plan the work of every structural unit that makes money. The bottom line is that neither Rector or Vice-Rectors are able to increase economic results without creating a system of middle managers motivation. So everyone should have an understanding that if he earns money for the University, thus he strengthens his financial base and increases the wages of the employees. The law of Ukraine allows to earn extra money, and the University has the necessary material base. But the employees are not involved because they have no motivation. I don’t want to say that we have organized something wrong, not at all, but nowadays we live in such conditions when the University is practically stabilized and it we attained “cruising speed”, but then the dollar rose again from 8 to 25UAH. Also the minimum wage cost was raised, I mean that expenses have increased but we can’t raise the amount of tuition to be profitable, because the educational services market dictates the prices. Therefore, we should look for ways to earn additional income, including research activities, which can be very profitable. The University currently has developed a large cohort of young PhDs who are not 40 years old yet; they are a great prospect for SNAU.
Actually I would like to emphasize once again that the agricultural sector in Ukraine has the future. And we’ll feel it within three years, there is a demand for food worldwide, but Ukraine will not enter the market independently. Today, every agricultural holding is engaged in the issue separately and in fact 40% of our production is exported. But when conditions will be created and EU markets will be opened to come up at the state level, the experts able to work in the new technological conditions will be very popular.
I really like the students’ selection system prevailing in Ukrainian agro holdings. Agricultural holdings are able to offer wages at the level of 30-50 thousand per month for administrative management, depending on the level of knowledge of young specialists. Of course, such specialists, in addition to deep knowledge, should possess an experience of modern production technologies and know a foreign language well. The second level is a narrow specialist with wages of 10 to 20 thousand. The third category is the average of professionals with a salary from 5to10 thousand. That is, each student can determine his future: to study hard, learn new technologies, master a foreign language, especially when all these capabilities can provided by SNAU.
Unfortunately, personally I do not speak a foreign language, but I plan to learn it. I am optimistic about the future of our University and I am sure that our team has the opportunity for self-realization.