IFES develops a Code of Conduct for universities on maintaining political neutrality during elections
According to IFES’ latest Election Survey results, abuse of state resources (ASR) remains a major issue of concern during elections in Ukraine. Provided a list of seven activities that constitute an abuse of state resources, 63% of Ukrainians reported to have heard of at least one happening during the 2019 presidential election, while 29% noted they personally witnessed at least one of such instance. This indicates that abuse of state resources still occurs widely and is an issue to be addressed in future elections.
As part of its efforts to help politically exposed institutions (PEIs) identify and prevent ASR, IFES has established a cooperation and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education and Science (MoE) to raise awareness of abuse of state resources and promote Ukrainian educational establishments’ political neutrality before and during election periods.
As part of this Memorandum, IFES developed a Code of Conduct for universities on how higher education institutions can maintain political neutrality during the election period. This document is based on key findings stemming from focus group discussions with students, professors and university rectors that were aimed to identify their awareness of and attitudes towards practices of ASR and illegal campaigning in educational establishments.
The Code of Conduct is directed at university administrations who are willing to protect their institutions from undue political influence and safeguard their reputation during the election process. It outlines typical cases of abusing resources of higher education institutions for political purposes and provides specific recommendations how these threats can be mitigated. The Code of Conduct is available on IFES Ukraine’s webpage and has been shared with Ukrainian universities through the MoE.
After the parliamentary election, IFES will gather feedback on the use of the Code of Conduct by the universities and work with the MoE to help the education establishments incorporate its provisions in their internal policies and procedures. IFES will also continue its efforts to raise awareness about the threats related to abuse of state resources for education establishments and the Code of Conduct as an instrument to counteract them.