Sergey Tokarev and KSE establish IT university: Startup as diploma and new model of paying for education

In September 2022, SET University, a new Ukrainian technological university, will accept its first students. The university is a joint project of Sergey Tokarev, the Founding Partner at Roosh, and the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE). The university’s uniqueness consists in a special approach to teaching: instead of the classical learning model with the subsequent theses, students will present a startup. The best ones will also get funding.

SET University: Background and unique approach to teaching

The abbreviation SET in the university’s name stands for Science, Entrepreneurship, and Technology. This is the main principle that guides the university founders: to train future IT specialists who can move the world, using scientific and technological advances, as well as teaching them basic entrepreneurial skills. According to Sergey Tokarev, the main task is to train not just IT personnel but experienced entrepreneurs able to transfer the technological industry of Ukraine from outsourcing to its own production.

To achieve this, students will gain both theoretical and practical skills that will help them promote their startups and develop business plans properly. For this purpose, a Startup Garage will operate at the university—similar ones are successfully functioning at Stanford and other foreign-based universities.

Sergey Tokarev thought of establishing SET University after he had faced a shortage of IT professionals. At the moment, his portfolio includes over 100 startups, including the well-known Reface. And for further development of his portfolio companies, the IT investor needs well-trained specialists.

At the moment, the shortage of personnel in the Ukrainian IT industry is 50,000—100,000, and every year it increases by 25-30% and can grow up to 50-60%.

In 2021, the Kyiv School of Economics joined the project. It was not by chance that Tokarev attracted it to the university establishment. KSE graduates are considered the most knowledgeable specialists, and the teaching staff includes professors that graduated from foreign-based universities with extensive practical experience. In addition, Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson is a member of the KSE International Academic Board.

According to Tymofiy Mylovanov, President at the Kyiv School of Economics, the aim is to create a university that will be able to change the old education system and become an example for other IT universities.

Learning process

At the moment, SET University is considering the requests from IT companies and applicants to draw up the list of study majors. Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Data Science are among the most popular ones.

The university intends to invite the leading IT managers and engineers, professors of the best universities, as well as practitioners from major Ukrainian and international companies.

According to the university founders, the education will be accessible to every one, since its cost will be the same as at the Kyiv School of Economics. In addition, Sergey Tokarev, as well as other private investors, IT companies, and funds are ready to provide grants and scholarships to aspiring innovators.

However, the university will focus on the income share agreement model. That is, the students will sign an agreement on the basis of which 

young IT specialists will cover their education expenses during the several years with a certain percentage of their salaries after they get a job.

The applicants will be able to file their documents to SET University from July 1, when registration in digital accounts opens. They can upload a package of necessary documents there. From July 14, the university will begin accepting applications, and in August it will sign agreements with the accepted applicants. Classes will start in September.

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