WENR, Feb. 2006: Russia & The Commonwealth of Independent States
Students Forced to Support Presidential Candidate
University students in Belarus claim that they may only take exams if they agree to sign a nomination form to support President Alaksandr Lukashenka for his re-election bid in March. According to the Belarusian Human Rights Center Viasna, one student at the Belarusian Institute of Jurisprudence was called to the dean’s office during an exam and informed that if he did not sign a nomination form for the president he would not be allowed to return to the test. Police threatened students at the Belarus State Teacher Training University who refused to sign the document and one was reportedly assaulted. Since the announcement of the national election, there have been numerous reports of student harassment by government agents.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
Jan. 27, 2006
Armenian Schools Closed Down
Georgian officials have closed down illegal Armenian high schools operating in the south of the country. Also included in the crackdown are branches of the Yerevan based Law and Economics University and an examination center of the Movses Khorenatsi University, charged with operating without a license from the Georgian Education Ministry and providing students with false certificates. The Financial Police of Georgia sealed the branches and are instituting legal proceeding based on illegal business activities.
Jan. 6, 2006
Rectors Conditionally Accept State Exam
In an agreement made between the Ministry of Education and the Russian Union of Rectors, Russian Universities will be allowed to maintain their own system of entrance exams when the country implements its new unified state exam in 2008.
A new education bill announced by parliament and likely to pass within the next two years will permit universities to accept students based on the scores of the unified state exam, scores in regional and national knowledge competitions, and their own in-house entrance exams. Universities will have to accept the results of the new state exam but would be permitted to demand additional testing if a student failed to meet the institution’s standards.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
Dec. 2, 2005
Russia to Open Elite Business Schools
The Russian Education Ministry announced plans in February to open two elite business schools to be located in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and able to compete with the world’s best. The project is an attempt by the Russian Economy and Education Ministries to create business education in the country that rivals Russia’s highly regarded higher education in the sciences.
Half of the funding for the two new business schools will come from the federal government and the other half from private investment. An estimated US$350 million will be required to finance the two schools. The new institutions will offer 2,000 students the opportunity to earn bachelor’s and master’s level management degrees.
Feb. 6, 2006
Corruption Rampant in Higher Education
The practice of corruption is rampant amongst Russian academic professionals. Izvestiya Nauki, a corruption monitoring team at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, estimates that university professors accept roughly 26.5 million rubles ($923 million) in bribes annually. Russia’s own Education Minister, Andrei Fursenko, guessed that the number is much higher, around the same amount that universities received from the state budget last year, $2 billion. The Higher School of Economics believes one in 10 professors take bribes and that corruption in Russian universities is growing on an average of 7-10 percent annually. In a survey conducted by the student group Da, 52 percent of Moscow students reported encountering instances of corruption at their universities.
Combating the pervasive practice of corruption in higher education seems an insurmountable task for the Russian government. The Interior Ministry registers 1,000 complaints of bribery each year and only a third of those are prosecuted. The survey by Da found that students believe the answer to stopping corruption is to increase teacher’s salaries and the reform of university curriculum away from the liberal arts and towards a course of study more concentrated on preparing students for the labor market. A diploma is highly valued by young Russians looking to enter the job market, but some suspect that bribery could work to halt corruption as discerning employers are looking more at the work experience of job candidates in making hiring decisions. With the Ministry of Education seemingly resigned to the corruption culture’s continuation and a clear economic incentive for both students and professors, 2006 looks to be another excellent year for those in higher education that accept bribes.
— Transitions Online
Jan. 5, 2006
University to Bear Leader’s Name
Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan’s president, has announced that the government will construct a university that will be named after his book. The text, Rukhnama, means “book of the soul” and is dispensed by the county’s leader as a source of moral guidance to all of Turkmenistan’s citizens. It is mandatory reading for all Turkmen students and convicts must take an oath upon it at their release from prison. The university is to be completed by 2010.
— The Scotsman
Dec. 14, 2005