WENR, June 2006: Russia & The Commonwealth of Independent States
Ministry of Education Deaccredits University
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Education has revoked its recognition of Independent Azerbaijan University. Minister of Education Misir Mammadov told a press conference that the university’s license to operate, which has been expired since 2004, would not be revalidated. The University ignored a presidential decree in 2004 to refrain from admitting new students and has reportedly been operating illegally ever since. Only Azerbaijan’s State Commission on Student Admission has government authorization to administer and review university entrance exams, a practice that Independent Azerbaijan University conducted independently after being invalidated two years ago. The 1,734 students admitted to the university since invalidation will be transferred to other institutions of higher education.
May 6, 2006
School Leaving Exams for Sale
The collapse of Lithuania’s left-leaning government in late May exposed widespread corruption at many levels of the country’s governing administration, including the education sector. Minister of Education and Science, Remigijus Motuzas, is to be dismissed by opposition faction Lithuanian Seym for allegedly leaking information detailing the content of Lithuania’s state school-leaving examination. Copies of the Lithuanian-language section of this year’s leaving exam were reportedly on sale ahead of the scheduled examination date. Students are attempting to sue the disordered government who assure the student population that the exam will be rewritten and re-administered.
Universities Urged to attract More Foreign Students
Russia currently educates an estimated 100,000 foreign students annually, of which 70,000 are fee paying, and earns up to US$200 million in the process, equivalent to 0.5% of the projected market in global education services. This figure is reportedly dropping, however, and universities are being urged by education officials to attract more students.
Central to increasing the attractiveness of Russia as a study destination may be the restructuring of first-degree programs from the traditional five years to four years accompanied by the introduction of two-year second-degree programs. Some faculties, led by the economics department of Moscow State University, have been offering four-year degrees since the early 1990s, however, calls to realign Russia’s traditional degree structure with the new European two-tier bachelor/master structure come at a difficult time as many Russian institutions have proved somewhat uncomfortable with shorter degrees, believing they dilute academic standards. Adding to this are recent improvements and capacity increases in the Chinese and Indian higher education systems — countries that have traditionally sent large numbers of students to Russia.
Some universities are just now beginning to conduct market surveys, study trends on the international educational market and set up centers for international education projects. Medicine is the most popular specialty for foreigners in Russia (19.2%), while 17.5 percent study economics, finance and management, and 15.6 percent humanities and social sciences. Also popular are engineering and technical subjects, natural sciences and mathematics.
— RIA Novosti
April 4, 2006
Russia Inks Cooperate agreements with US, UK
Russian Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko and United States Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month to expand cooperation between the two nations in the field of education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the memorandum will promote cooperation and develop partnerships among various types of educational institutions in the United States and Russia that reflect the best practices of the educational systems of both countries. This is the first agreement of its kind between Russia and the U.S. The two countries expressed a desire to focus educational exchange in the areas of math, science, information technology, and foreign language. Over the last forty years, nearly 5,000 Russian and American students and academics have participated in Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays exchange programs.
British Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell, in Russia for the meeting of G8 education ministers, announced early in June a US$1.8 million (£1million) fund to create an academic partnership between Britain and Russia. The money, which will be allocated through the British Degrees in Russia Program (Bridge), will go towards enhancing science and technology research in cooperating universities from the two nations. The Bridge program was set up by Russia and Britain’s government in 2003 to promote academic exchange between the two countries’ universities.
Government Addresses Corruption in Education
According to a recent report from The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), the Tajik government is starting to take steps to address the problem of corruption in education, a problem that has long been an accepted part of the structure of the national education system, particularly at institutions of higher education.
In December, President Imomali Rahmonov gave a speech criticizing the standard of education being offered at the nation’s institutions of higher learning, stating that students were inadequately prepared for the workforce upon graduation. This situation has arisen partly from a chronic lack of funds. In an interview with IWPR, deputy education minister Farhod Rahimov detailed some of the main problems caused by under-funding. There was, he said, “a lack of teachers – especially with degrees, weak material and technical provision, and a lack of literature in the [Tajik] native language”.
As part of the reforms, which are focusing in on bribe taking, a special commission started work in January to inspect and certify all higher education facilities. The results of the inspection process will apparently lead to a change in status for some institutions. Universities offering specialized studies, for example, will become institutes. At some institutions, faculty members guilty of gross acts of bribe taking and extortion have been dismissed. Although lecturers and schoolteachers were given a 40 percent pay rise in April, a majority still state that they need to accept bribes in order to make ends meet.
So far, no institutions have been shut down. The commission is scheduled to complete its work and announce its formal findings by the end of June.
— The Institute for War and Peace Reporting
April 21, 2006
Uzbek, Russian Higher Education Borders Eliminated
At an exhibition of Russia’s higher education offerings in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, deputy head of the Russian Federal Agency for Education, Alexander Kazenov, announced the removal of quotas on the number of Uzbek students admitted to Russian institutions of higher education. Kazenov expressed the preparedness of Russia’s higher education sector to accept additional Uzbek students and to provide them with expertise in a variety of fields that will benefit their home nation. Rector of Southern Russian State University of Economics and Services, Anatoliy Sapronov, remarked, “From now on Russian diplomas will be recognized in Uzbekistan, and Uzbek ones in Russia.” There are an estimated 6,000 Uzbek students receiving their higher education in Russia this year.
Apr. 24, 2006