The swift economic development of Kharkov both during the whole period of its history and especially during the first stages was mostly determined by the love of knowledge and craving for education that were characteristic of Kharkov inhabitants. As the well known historian D. I. Bagaley once noted, the first Kharkov settlers had been seeing education as the most important way to keep faith and their own nationality.
From parish schools of XVII century through establishment of Kharkov college, that remained the education centre of Slobod Ukraine until the beginning of XIX century to the opening of Kharkov University - this is the glorious way that Kharkov educators had accomplished. From the very beginning of its existence Kharkov University became the centre of enlightenment and scientific research not only for Slobozhanshchina, but also for the whole Southern Russia. The University was the place where I. I. Mechnikov defended his diploma thesis, before the revolution well known scientists worked within its precincts: physicist and chemist N. N. Beketov, mathematicians M. V. Ostrogradsky, V. A. Steklov, A. M. Lyapunov, historians A. I. Yavornitsky, D. I. Bagaley, biochemist A. Ya. Danilevsky, philologist A. A. Potebnya and many others.
With the development of capitalism in Russia it became necessary to prepare qualified staff for various industries, which led to opening in Kharkov the Technological Institute in 1885. Its first head was the well known scientist, professor of mechanics V. L. Kirpichyov. The evidence of the high level of proficiency of the graduates of Kharkov Technological Institute are the following facts: among its graduates are the pioneer of the national aviation, the prominent ship building engineer L. M. Matsiyevich, the heavy industry people's commissar L. B. Krasin. After that the institutes that were open in the town were: the Women's Medical Institute (1910) and the Agricultural Institute (evacuated from Alexandria to Kharkov in 1914). The total number of higher education institutes in Kharkov before the revolution was six, and these were the places where scientific research was conducted. But since the second half of the XIX century scientific societies begin to contribute to solving of scientific problems. Especially noticeable was Kharkov Medical Society, founded in 1861. On the 25th anniversary since its creation the Society opened a bacteriological station with the Pasteur institute, a microscopic chemistry room. In 1894, a station department was created - the Curative Vaccine and Sera Institute. Consequently it became the basis of the Bacteriological Institute. The people who worked in the Institute were L. S. Tsenkovsky, V. K. Vysokovich, V. I. Nedrigailov, I. I. Mechnikov (consequently the Institute was named after him). The Institute conducted intensive research on immunology and epidemiology, supplied bacteriological preparations to all Russian provinces, but did not have government support and was funded by public contributions! In 1907, with the aid of the Medical Society the country's first traumatic surgery research organisation was set up in Kharkov (currently Orthopaedic And Traumatic Surgery Research Institute named after M. I. Sitenko). In 1901, Ukraine's first Kharkov Verification Office was created in the town initiated by the great Russian scientist D. I. Mendeleev, consequently it was used as the basis of Ukraine's Principal Office of Measures and Weights (currently Metrology Research Institute). In 1909, Kharkov Agricultural Society set up the Selection Station (currently Plant Cultivation, Selection, and Genetics Research Institute named after V. Y. Yuryev).
After Soviet power was proclaimed in Kharkov the question of research institutes was given state priority. The newly organised research institutes on the one hand explored the fields traditionally developed in Kharkov (medicine, biology, mathematics, mechanics, chemistry), and on the other hand, they helped to solve problems that were immediate for the state needs: to ensure rapid development of heavy and defence industry, transport means modernisation, power engineering, nuclear physics, effective management of water and forest resources. Kharkov research institutes honourably accomplished the tasks set before them, which in its turn caused creation of new research institutes, influx of brain power, increase of scientific research funding. This trend was not reversed even during the Great Patriotic War. In particular, Kharkov physic-mathematical school took part in construction of missile weapons and aviation, the famous T-34 tank was created under the guidance of Kharkov engineer M. I. Koshkin.
The time from the 1950's to the 1980's was the period of flourishing of Kharkov science school: Kharkov becomes (and still is) one of the world's biggest space research centres, which is very closely connected with the development of physical and mathematical science. Kharkov scientists can boast with great accomplishments, those whose research is connected with genetics, cryogenic biology, powder metallurgy, transport and turbo generator mechanical engineering, construction of powerful and economical engines, creation of effective and ecologically clean fuel, development of high quality construction materials. In the 1980's every fifth Ukraine's research institute and every seventh Ukraine's scientist worked in Kharkov. About 180 research institutes and design organisations were functioning in the city, including 67 research institutes, 80,000 scientists, including 500 Doctors of Science and more than 4,500 candidates of science. The Scientific Centre of the Academy of Science of Soviet Ukraine.
At present, as Ukraine became a sovereign state, Kharkov higher education and research institutes are undergoing structural reorganisation. For the current state of events refer to sections Research Institutes, Higher Education Organisations. We will not venture summing it up. Time will show what the 1990's are going to be.
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