As of this year, the Ukrainian Education Ministry has ceased to recognize certificates of secondary education issued in annexed Crimea. According to Alexander Yankovskiy, Head of Radio Freedom’s Krim Realii project, the decision strips Ukraine of potential students.

“The application procedure is currently as follows: if a holder of the Ukrainian passport from Crimea wants to apply to a university in mainland Ukraine, he/she should leave Crimea several months prior to the end of school year, join a school in mainland Ukraine, take exams there and get a graduation certificate. It is this certificate that he/she should use to apply to a Ukrainian university. In fact, we have a major problem of our own making. In 2014, there were more than 4 thousand applicants from Crimea who either got transferred to or joined universities in Ukraine. Now their number fell to nearly 200. We should, therefore, choose which of the two is more important to us: people or formal procedure,” Yankovsky said.

According to Yankovsky, Ukrainian universities should recognize Russian-style graduation certificates issued in annexed Crimea because they are the only ones Crimean graduates have.

“There are precedents when the fact stated in documents issued by occupation authorities was recognized, and not the documents themselves. Probably, we should do so as well, because applicants who arrive in Ukraine do that of their own free will,” said Yankovsky.