WENR, April 2007: Russia & CIS

Regional News

Russia and CIS


Academics and Students Campaign for Academic Freedom

In Belarus, which is currently under the authoritarian rule of Alexander Lukshenka, academics face persecution and imprisonment if bold enough to question the government. Now campaigners are beginning to challenge the status quo, and the effort will be spearheaded by the campaign to free former rector of Belarus State University who in March 2006 campaigned for the country’s presidency and is now facing “inhuman prison conditions,” according to his wife and campaign leader. Another prominent scholar, historian Yauhien Anishchanka, recently lost his job for failing to follow the party line, having been declared a person inconsistent with the post of an academic and a research assistant.

Restrictions of all kinds are rife in Belarus, such as constraints on students traveling abroad and harassment of those who do go, even during holiday periods. Not surprisingly, Belarus has suffered a major brain drain as young graduates have left the authoritarian regime. The Government views such students as deserters from reservist military service and maintains that if they return home for a visit they are liable to be arrested.

The Times Higher Education Supplement
March 23, 2007


After 7 Years of Bureaucratic Maneuvering, US-based Christian College to Grow Permanent Roots

After five years of trying and five failed – yet hostile – lawsuits, the Russian American Christian University (RACU) finally got a building permit – without paying a single bribe. Two years later, the university is just 8 months away from opening its new 46,000-square-foot facility. The Christian liberal arts university, which is backed by at least seven American Christian colleges (Calvin, Dordt, Geneva, Gordon, Malone and Wheaton colleges, along with Taylor University) is the first of its kind in Russia.

The institution is bilingual – engaging English- and Russian-speaking faculty – and currently enrolls 160 Russian students of all faiths at leased premises in Moscow. With the completion of the new campus, the program will at least double or triple in size, according to school officials interviewed by InsideHigherEd. Students major in English, social work and business. The institution has enjoyed full accreditation since November 2003 when the Russian Ministry of Education awarded accreditation to grant undergraduate and graduate degrees as an “institute.” It’s the lowest tier in Russia’s higher education system, below the more prestigious “academy” and “university” classifications, but provides legitimacy nonetheless.

In 1992, one year after the collapse of communism, the government opened the door for institutions such as RACU by approving a law allowing for private higher education. Now there are at least nine faith-based universities in Russia, representing Judaism, Islam, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. The number of international affiliates of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities has grown from 10 institutions in 1997 (including Canadian affiliates), to 44 today, representing Kenya, South Korea, Uganda, Lithuania, and Australia, among other countries (including Canada again, home to 9 of the 44 affiliates).

March 16, 2007

Third Chinese Cultural Institute to be Established

China and Russia have agreed to establish a Confucius Institute at Russia’s Kazan State University, Chinese education authorities said in March. Hunan Normal University will be in charge of Chinese language and culture programs for the institute. According to officials from the Chinese university, the agreement makes the 203-year-old Russian university the host of the country’s third Confucius Institute. There are a total of 10,000 people in Russia currently enrolled in Chinese-language training programs. In an effort to promote the Chinese language and Chinese culture abroad, the Chinese government has set up 140 Confucius Institutes in 52 countries and regions worldwide, and this year, China plans to set up another 60.

Xinhua News Agency
March 21, 2007

British Council Shifts Gears in Russia

The British Council has decided to move from training teachers in English to supporting a cultural dialogue. The council closed its English-language centers across the country last year after raids by tax officials, even though nothing came of the raids. Diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia have been under pressure since last year’s spy row, when Russian security services found what they alleged (and the Foreign Office denied) was a British transmitting device hidden in a sophisticated electronic instrument disguised as a rock in a Moscow park. An estimated 17,000 English teachers in Russia have had in-service training with the help of the British Council. This training will now have more emphasis on cultural dialogue and understanding. A major review of British Council activities across Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East is helping to change what has traditionally been a heavy focus on teacher training and language tuition.

The Times Higher Education Supplement
March 23, 2007

Over 10,000 Chinese Studying in Russia

In remarks made before President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Russia in March, assistant foreign minister Li Hui said that more than 10,000 Chinese students are currently enrolled at Russian institutions of education. The current number of Chinese students studying in Russia has reportedly exceeded the total number of students that studied in the former Soviet Union from 1949 to the mid-1950s – a time when the two countries enjoyed close ties.

Xinhua News Agency
March 21, 2007

Education Spending up 31%: Minister

The Russian government plans to allocate 278 billion rubles (US$10.7 billion) to funding for science and education in 2007, up 31% year-on-year, Education Minister Andrei Fursenko announced in March. Under the current government agenda, Russia will significantly increase the financing of science and education in the coming years. Mr. Fursenko said the government plans a 70% increase in the funding of the national education project, which will total 49 billion rubles ($1.88 billion) in 2007. President Vladimir Putin launched the Russian national project “Education” in 2005 to improve the country’s competitiveness in the educational and scientific spheres.

– RIA Novosti
March 30, 2007

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