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Malpractices in Higher Education, Education Ministry's Countermeasures Viewed
Rossiyskaya Gazeta
9 January 2003
Article by Anton Zeverev:
"Hack Workers in Educational Field.
Ministry of Education Declares War on Sham Institutions of Higher Learning

Russia's several higher educational institutions have had their licenses to train students suspended until 1 March 2003.

It is far from being a secret that a great number of sham regional branches of state-run higher educational institutions have cropped up in the educational field and are very effectively discrediting the reputation of Russia's higher education, which remains high no matter what.

"In any newspaper carrying advertisements one can find attractive ads along the following lines: A certain state institute is the leader of contemporary education! However, when one takes a closer look at this leader, it turns out that it is based in a three-room apartment. This means that under the guise of standard state diplomas it issues worthless pieces of paper," Aleksandr Kiselev, Russian Federation first deputy minister of education said. There is also another figure attesting that it is necessary to put an end to the sale of sham $400 diplomas thriving in underground street crossings and directly in lecture rooms: According to Higher School of Economics Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov, up to 80 percent of nonstate and 30-40 percent of state-run institutions of higher learning make students pay for their diplomas, but at the same time do not offer them proper education.

What does this mean in reality?

Price List Higher Educational Institution Style.

Judging by evidence collected by the Russian Federation General Prosecutor's Office, the average of 60-70 percent of students in state-run higher educational institutions currently pay hard cash for their love of knowledge. The proportion of students paying for their education, as set by the Federal Law "On Education" (it should not exceed 25 percent of persons enrolled in higher educational institutions to acquire professions as lawyers, economists, managers, and employees of municipal and state administration organs), is observed extremely rarely, and in some particularly fashionable professions approaches 100 percent. For instance, students paying for their education occupy more than 80 percent of seats funded from the state budget at Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio Electronics.

It is only natural: With great difficulty the state can scrape up money to pay salaries to teachers and scholarships to their students. In their turn, trying to make both ends meet, higher educational institutions are gradually reducing their students' rights to a minimum and are charging them virtually for every breath they take. For instance, students have to pay for the filing and processing of their applications, for application forms issued by enrollment commissions, for the issuance of record books and ID's to access particular buildings, and so on. Finally, they have to pay for the issuance of diplomas and separately for the lists of tests passed (on average -- 50 rubles per person).

The administration of the Chita regional branch of the Irkutsk State Economics Academy pushed this illegal procedure to the extremes: Young people were charged "voluntary" fees to maintain the building, cover operational expenses, and develop the branch. Admittedly, the local court declared this procedure illegal following a suit filed by a student. Nevertheless, the entrepreneurial institute management continued to collect levies from their students long after the ruling was passed.

Apparently, it was the entire aforementioned set of widespread malpractices that urged the Russian Ministry of Education to purge the ranks of higher educational institutions of poor-quality academies of agriculture, law, and social rhetoric.

Having said that, the pace of work of the State Inspectorate for the Appraisal of Russia's Educational Institutions set up by the ministry is obviously inadequate as compared to the scale of the task. Nevertheless, the first trio of hypothetical violators has been detected: The Ivanteyevo Administration and Law Institute, the Moscow branch of the St. Petersburg Higher School of Privatization and Enterprise, and the Rostov-na-Donu Business and Law Institute.

In addition to this, the Kislovodsk branch of Moscow's Social University and the Pyatigorsk branch of the International Academy of Enterprise have had their licenses to teach students suspended until 1 March 2003 for providing educational services without requisite licenses (required to teach lawyers). The same decision was made with regard to the Novosibirsk-based Moscow Institute of Social Relations and Law. Finally, based on a lawsuit filed by the Russian Federation Ministry of Education the MAMARMEN International Marketing and Management Academy will soon have its license to conduct educational activities challenged on grounds that it intentionally provided false information about itself.

GAI for Higher Educational Institutions.

"The idea of setting up a quality inspectorate for educational institutions, similar to GAI [State Motor Vehicle Inspection Administration], had long been considered, but it was put into practice just now," said Yuriy Akimov, chairman of the State Inspectorate for the Appraisal of Russia's Educational Institutions. "At the beginning, naturally, we will pay attention to the quality of higher educational institutions' work, moreover, we will focus on the most popular and therefore, largest, institutions specializing in economics, management, and law. Mobile teams comprising renowned teachers will conduct surprise inspections in 10-15 selected institutions of higher learning quarterly and strip violators of the convention of their licenses (either entire institutions or their particular training programs)."

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