WENR

WENR, August 2006: Russia & The Commonwealth of Independent States

Azerbaijan

State Forces Closure of Private Universities Amid Controversy

Independent Azerbaijan University (IAU) and the Baku branch of Moscow-based Law and Management University closed in May after educational authorities decided not to renew their teaching licenses. The closures have sparked student protest, with students at IAU beginning a hunger strike in June.

The two universities are apparently victims of an education ministry clampdown on local branches of foreign institutes and private Azerbaijani colleges. Controversially, however, the Law and Management branch campus is considered by many to offer the best and most prestigious courses in law and medicine in the country. The education ministry says that the targeted schools care more about their financial bottom line than educational standards, alleging that they have increased student numbers each year, in some cases illegally, with little regard for teaching capacity.

In 2005, a special commission conducted a survey of non-state schools and ruled that 17 institutions of higher education failed to meet minimum standards. The schools continued to admit students. The decision to close IAU, the ministry says, was made because it admitted 1,700 students who had not passed the university entrance examination. Students say they should not be punished because of management decisions made by the university. In early June, the ministry appeared to make concessions to the hunger-striking students, offering to grant diplomas to final year students and transfer those in their third year of study to other private colleges.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting [1]
June 15, 2006

Belarus

Belarus Aims to Increase Education Export

The Belarusian government plans to increase the number of foreign students attending the country’s institutions of higher learning tenfold over the next five years.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kosinets, 2,500 foreign students currently study in Belarus and contribute US$5million to the economy each year. The recruitment of international students is part of the Republic of Belarus action plan 2006-2010, a goal of which is to create competitive education on the world market and to create a qualified workforce able to fuse economic production and higher education to fuel the country’s development.

The National Legal Internet Portal of Belarus
May 30, 2006

Russia

Central Asian Summit Draws Agreements to Step Up Cooperation in Education

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for greater cooperation among member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [2] (SCO) in the sphere of education at the organization’s annual summit in June. The SCO summit was attended by heads of state from all member states Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan plus observers from Pakistan, Iran, India and Mongolia. President Putin was particularly keen to stress cooperation in the use of distance learning. He is also using the Russian chairmanship of the Group of Eight (G8) summit meeting, held in July, to urge greater cooperation in education.

RIAN Novosti [3]
June 15, 2006

Turkmenistan

Turkmen Students Search Abroad for Alternatives to Nation’s Poor Higher Education

Turkmen students are fleeing en masse from the numerous pitfalls of president Saparmurat Niazov’s reformed higher education system. Neighboring countries such as Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have all become havens for Turkmen youth looking to find an education worthy of the name.

Not only have restrictive measures on access to higher education made getting a decent university education in Turkmenistan almost impossible, but teaching time has been cut to two years from four or five years previously. In addition, Niazov signed a decree in 2003 saying that school leavers must do two years’ work experience before they can attend university. The scarcity of jobs in Turkmenistan has forced many citizens to forgo college after their two-year service commitment is completed, as evidenced by the fact that only 3,500 students enrolled in Turkmen universities this year as opposed to nearly 30,000 in the past. That is a tiny fraction of the around 150,000 young people who graduated from secondary school this year.

Most Turkmen citizens cannot afford education in Turkmenistan considering that at most universities a bribe between US$3,000 and US$15,000 is required to gain admission, not to mention the obligatory kickbacks the underpaid professors oblige at exam time. For many, it is more economical to travel abroad in search of other options. President Niazov also requires that all university courses be offered in the Turkmen language, a necessity that closes out many ethnic Russians, Tartars and Armenians from attending universities in the country. Those students who do enroll at Turkmen institutions say they spend most of their time studying the Ruhnama, the official ideological guide of the Turkmen people that was written by the president himself.

According to a former professor at a Turkmen university who now lives in Russia, under these circumstances, “Turkmenistan can expect an entire generation of uneducated people, which will lead to economic and social crisis.”

Institute for War and Peace Reporting [1]
August 3, 2006

Ukraine

International Partnerships in Business Education Growing

The Rotterdam School of Management [4] (RSM) is set to start a part-time two-year Executive MBA in Kiev beginning next January. Future plans might also include a full-fledged branch campus if RSM enjoys success with the part-time program and a full-time program that is projected for introduction in the near future, based on the success of the part-time offering.

RSM is introducing its MBA program based on a market assessment it recently commissioned. The market survey found that while demand for graduate-level business and management instruction is high among local businesses, there are not enough high-quality programs available domestically, while sending employees abroad to study is prohibitively expensive. According to the RSM survey, Ukraine is estimated to need more than 10,000 business graduates over the next 10 years but currently less than 1,000 are registered in MBA programs, of which only 50 percent stay in or return to Ukraine.

If RSM were to open a full branch campus, it would be the first foreign business school to do so. More popular, and much less of a financial risk, are joint programs developed in partnership with local institutions. Most top Kiev-based business schools have developed joint projects with Western schools. For example, Kiev-Mohyla Business School has developed cooperative arrangements with INSEAD [5], Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University [6] and Darden Management School at the University of Virginia [7]; the International Institute of Business offers an MBA in conjunction with the University of New Brunswick [8]; the Kiev Business School has cooperative arrangements with Alabama-based Samford University [9]; and the National Academy of Management offers an MBA program in conjunction with the University of Lancashire [10] in the United Kingdom.

At least two other institutions are reportedly in the process of exploring the Ukrainian market. Franklin Pierce College [11], based in New Hampshire, is currently working with Luhansk State University in Eastern Ukraine, where it plans to jointly offer an international MBA program beginning in December, with its portion of the program being offered remotely via the Internet. The National American University [12], a private school based in South Dakota, is also reportedly in the process of looking for a Ukrainian partner to offer its undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Kyiv Post [13]
July 13, 2006