Edu­ca­tion Sys­tem In Rus­sia

Edu­ca­tion in Rus­sia is pro­vided pre­dom­i­nantly by the state and is reg­u­lated by the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Sci­ence. Regional author­i­ties reg­u­late edu­ca­tion within their juris­dic­tions within the pre­vail­ing frame­work of fed­eral laws. In 2004 state spend­ing for edu­ca­tion amounted to 3.6% of GDP, or 13% of con­sol­i­dated state bud­get. In 2011, the spend­ing on edu­ca­tion amounted to $ 20 billion.[1] Pri­vate insti­tu­tions account for 1% of pre-​school enroll­ment, 0.5% of ele­men­tary school enrollment[3] and 17% of university-​level students.

Before 1990 the course of school train­ing in Soviet Union was 10-​years, but at the end of 1990 the 11-​year course had been offi­cially entered. Edu­ca­tion in state-​owned sec­ondary schools is free; first ter­tiary (uni­ver­sity level) edu­ca­tion is free with reser­va­tions: a sub­stan­tial num­ber of stu­dents are enrolled for full pay. Male and female stu­dents have equal shares in all stages of edu­ca­tion, except ter­tiary edu­ca­tion where women lead with 57%.

The lit­er­acy rate in Rus­sia, accord­ing to the 2002 cen­sus, is 99.4% (99.7% men, 99.2% women). Accord­ing to a 2008 World Bank sta­tis­tic 54% of the Russ­ian labor force has attained a ter­tiary (col­lege) edu­ca­tion, giv­ing Rus­sia the high­est attain­ment of college-​level edu­ca­tion in the world. 47.7% have com­pleted sec­ondary edu­ca­tion (9 or 10 years old); 26.5% have com­pleted mid­dle school (8 or 9 years old) and 8.1% have ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion (5 years old). High­est rates of ter­tiary edu­ca­tion, 24.7% are recorded among women aged 3539 years (com­pared to 19.5% for men of the same age bracket).

Edu­ca­tion in Rus­sia is pro­vided pre­dom­i­nantly by the state and is reg­u­lated by the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Sci­ence. Regional author­i­ties reg­u­late edu­ca­tion within their juris­dic­tions within the pre­vail­ing frame­work of fed­eral laws. In 2004 state spend­ing for edu­ca­tion amounted to 3.6% of GDP, or 13% of con­sol­i­dated state bud­get. In 2011, the spend­ing on edu­ca­tion amounted to $ 20 billion.[1] Pri­vate insti­tu­tions account for 1% of pre-​school enroll­ment, 0.5% of ele­men­tary school enrollment[3] and 17% of university-​level students.

Before 1990 the course of school train­ing in Soviet Union was 10-​years, but at the end of 1990 the 11-​year course had been offi­cially entered. Edu­ca­tion in state-​owned sec­ondary schools is free; first ter­tiary (uni­ver­sity level) edu­ca­tion is free with reser­va­tions: a sub­stan­tial num­ber of stu­dents are enrolled for full pay. Male and female stu­dents have equal shares in all stages of edu­ca­tion, except ter­tiary edu­ca­tion where women lead with 57%.

The lit­er­acy rate in Rus­sia, accord­ing to the 2002 cen­sus, is 99.4% (99.7% men, 99.2% women). Accord­ing to a 2008 World Bank sta­tis­tic 54% of the Russ­ian labor force has attained a ter­tiary (col­lege) edu­ca­tion, giv­ing Rus­sia the high­est attain­ment of college-​level edu­ca­tion in the world. 47.7% have com­pleted sec­ondary edu­ca­tion (9 or 10 years old); 26.5% have com­pleted mid­dle school (8 or 9 years old) and 8.1% have ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion (5 years old). High­est rates of ter­tiary edu­ca­tion, 24.7% are recorded among women aged 3539 years (com­pared to 19.5% for men of the same age bracket).

Pre-​school education:

Accord­ing to the 2002 cen­sus, 68% of chil­dren (78% urban and 47% rural) aged 5 are enrolled in kinder­gartens. Accord­ing to UNESCO data, enroll­ment in any kind of pre-​school pro­gramme increased from 67% in 1999 to 84% in 2005.

Kinder­gartens, unlike schools, are reg­u­lated by regional and local author­i­ties. The Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion and Sci­ence reg­u­lates only a brief pre-​school prepa­ra­tion pro­gramme for the 56 year old chil­dren. In 2004 the gov­ern­ment attempted to charge the full cost of kinder­gartens to the par­ents; wide­spread pub­lic oppo­si­tion caused a rever­sal of pol­icy. Cur­rently, local author­i­ties can legally charge the par­ents not more than 20% of costs. Twins, chil­dren of uni­ver­sity stu­dents, refugees, Cher­nobyl vet­er­ans and other pro­tected social groups are enti­tled to free service.

The Soviet sys­tem pro­vided for nearly uni­ver­sal pri­mary (nurs­ery, age 1 to 3) and kinder­garten (age 3 to 7) ser­vice in urban areas, reliev­ing work­ing moth­ers from day­time child­care needs. By the 1980s, there were 88,000 preschool insti­tu­tions; as the secondary-​education study load increased and moved from the ten to eleven-​year stan­dard, the kinder­garten pro­grammes shifted from train­ing basic social skills, or phys­i­cal abil­i­ties, to prepa­ra­tion for enter­ing the school level. After the col­lapse of the Soviet Union the num­ber decreased to 46,000; kinder­garten build­ings were sold as real estate, irre­versibly rebuilt and con­verted for office use. At the same time, a minor­ity share of suc­cess­ful state-​owned kinder­gartens, regarded as a ver­ti­cal lift to qual­ity school­ing, flour­ished through­out the 1990s. Pri­vately owned kinder­gartens, although in high demand, did not gain a sig­nif­i­cant share due to admin­is­tra­tive pres­sure; share of chil­dren enrolled in pri­vate kinder­gartens dropped from 7% in 1999 to 1% in 2005.

The improve­ment of the econ­omy after the 1998 cri­sis, cou­pled with his­tor­i­cal demo­graphic peak, resulted in an increase in birth rate, first recorded in 2005. Large cities encoun­tered short­age of kinder­garten vacan­cies ear­lier, in 2002. Moscow’s kinder­garten wait­ing list included 15,000 chil­dren; in the much smaller city of Tomsk (pop­u­la­tion 488,000) it reached 12,000. The city of Moscow insti­tuted spe­cialised kinder­garten com­mis­sions that are tasked with locat­ing empty slots for the chil­dren; par­ents sign their chil­dren on the wait­ing list as soon as they are born. The degree of the prob­lem varies between dis­tricts, e.g. Moscow’s Fili-​Davydkovo Dis­trict (pop­u­la­tion 78,000) has lost all of its kinder­gartens (res­i­dents have to com­pete for kinder­garten slots else­where) while Zelenograd claims to have short queue. Inde­pen­dent authors assert that bribes or “dona­tions” for admis­sion to kinder­gartens com­pete in amount with uni­ver­sity admis­sions while author­i­ties refute the accusation.

Sec­ondary school:

Gen­eral framework:

There were 59,260 gen­eral edu­ca­tion schools in 20072008 school year, an increase from 58,503 in the pre­vi­ous year. How­ever, prior to 20052006, the num­ber of schools was steadily decreas­ing from 65,899 in 20002001. The 20072008 num­ber includes 4,965 advanced learn­ing schools spe­cial­iz­ing in for­eign lan­guages, math­e­mat­ics etc.; 2,347 advanced general-​purpose schools,[16] and 1,884 schools for all cat­e­gories of dis­abled children;[15] it does not include voca­tional tech­ni­cal school and tech­nicums. Pri­vate schools accounted for 0.3% of ele­men­tary school enroll­ment in 2005 and 0.5% in 2005.Measure of Education In Russia

Accord­ing to a 2005 UNESCO report, 96% of the adult pop­u­la­tion has com­pleted lower sec­ondary school­ing and most of them also have an upper sec­ondary education.

Eleven-​year sec­ondary edu­ca­tion in Russ­ian is com­pul­sory since Sep­tem­ber 1, 2007. Until 2007, it was lim­ited to nine years with grades 1011 optional; fed­eral sub­jects of Rus­sia could enforce higher com­pul­sory stan­dard through local leg­is­la­tion within the eleven – year fed­eral pro­gramme. Moscow enacted com­pul­sory eleven – year edu­ca­tion in 2005, sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion existed in Altai Krai, Sakha and Tyu­men Oblast. A stu­dent of 15 to 18 years of age may drop out of school with approval of his/​her par­ent and local author­i­ties, and with­out their con­sent upon reach­ing age of 18. Expul­sion from school for mul­ti­ple vio­la­tions dis­rupt­ing school life is pos­si­ble start­ing at the age of 15.

The eleven-​year school term is split into ele­men­tary (grades 14), mid­dle (grades 59) and senior (grades 1011) classes. Absolute major­ity of chil­dren attend full pro­gramme schools pro­vid­ing eleven-​year edu­ca­tion; schools lim­ited to ele­men­tary or ele­men­tary and mid­dle classes typ­i­cally exist in rural areas. Of 59,260 schools in Rus­sia, 36,248 pro­vide full eleven-​year pro­gramme, 10,833 — nine-​year “basic” (ele­men­tary and mid­dle) pro­gramme, and 10,198 — ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion only. Their num­ber is dis­pro­por­tion­ately large com­pared to their share of stu­dents due to lesser class sizes in rural schools. In areas where school capac­ity is insuf­fi­cient to teach all stu­dents on a nor­mal, morn­ing to after­noon, sched­ule, author­i­ties resort to dou­ble shift schools, where two streams of stu­dents (morn­ing shift and evening shift) share the same facil­ity. There were 13,100 dou­ble shift and 75 triple shift schools in 20072008, com­pared to 19,201 and 235 in 20002001.

Chil­dren are accepted to first grade at the age of 6 or 7, depend­ing on indi­vid­ual devel­op­ment of each child. Until 1990, start­ing age was set at seven years and school­ing lasted ten years (all com­pul­sory). The switch from ten to eleven-​year term was moti­vated by con­tin­u­ously increas­ing load in mid­dle and senior grades. In 1960s, it resulted in a “con­ver­sion” of the fourth grade from ele­men­tary to mid­dle school. Decrease in ele­men­tary school­ing led to greater dis­par­ity between chil­dren enter­ing mid­dle school; to com­pen­sate for the “miss­ing” fourth grade, ele­men­tary school­ing was extended with a “zero grade” for six-​year-​olds. This move remains a sub­ject of controversy.

Chil­dren of ele­men­tary classes are nor­mally sep­a­rated from other classes within their own floor of a school build­ing. They are taught, ide­ally, by a sin­gle teacher through all four ele­men­tary grades (except for phys­i­cal train­ing and, if avail­able, for­eign lan­guages); 98.5% of ele­men­tary school teach­ers are women. Their num­ber decreased from 349,000 in 1999 to 317,000 in 2005. Start­ing from the fifth grade, each aca­d­e­mic sub­ject is taught by a ded­i­cated spe­cialty teacher (80.4% women in 2004, an increase from 75.4% in 1991). Pupil-​to-​teacher ratio (11:1) is on par with devel­oped Euro­pean coun­tries. Teach­ers’ aver­age monthly salaries in 2008 range from 6,200 rou­bles (260 US dol­lars) in Mor­dovia to 21,000 rou­bles (900 US dol­lars) in Moscow.

The school year extends from Sep­tem­ber 1 to end of May and is divided into four terms. Study pro­gramme in schools is fixed; unlike in some West­ern coun­tries, school­child­ren or their par­ents have no choice of study sub­jects. Class load per stu­dent (638 hours a year for nine-​year-​olds, 893 for thirteen-​year-​olds) is lower than in Chile, Peru or Thai­land, although offi­cial hours are fre­quently appended with addi­tional class­work. Stu­dents are graded on a 5-​step scale, rang­ing in prac­tice from 2 (“unac­cept­able”) to 5 (“excel­lent”); 1 is a rarely used sign of extreme fail­ure. Teach­ers reg­u­larly sub­di­vide these grades (i.e. 4+, 5-​) in daily use, but term and year results are graded strictly 2, 3, 4 or 5.

Voca­tional train­ing option;

Upon com­ple­tion of a nine-​year pro­gramme the stu­dent has a choice of either com­plet­ing the remain­ing two years at nor­mal school, or of a trans­fer to a spe­cial­ized pro­fes­sional train­ing school. His­tor­i­cally, those were divided into low-​prestige PTUs and better-​regarded tech­nicums and med­ical (nurse level) schools; in the 2000s, many such insti­tu­tions, if oper­a­tional, have been renamed to col­leges. They pro­vide stu­dents with a work­ing skill qual­i­fi­ca­tion and a high school cer­tifi­cate equiv­a­lent to 11-​year edu­ca­tion in a nor­mal school; the pro­gramme, due to its work train­ing com­po­nent, extends to 3 years. In 2007-​08 there were 2,800 such insti­tu­tions with 2,280,000 stu­dents. Russ­ian voca­tional schools, like the Tech Prep schools in the USA, fall out of ISCED clas­si­fi­ca­tion, thus the enroll­ment num­ber reported by UNESCO is lower, 1.41 mil­lion; the dif­fer­ence is attrib­uted to senior classes of tech­nicums that exceed sec­ondary edu­ca­tion standard.

All cer­tifi­cates of sec­ondary edu­ca­tion (Matu­rity Cer­tifi­cate, Russ­ian: ???????? ????????), regard­less of issu­ing insti­tu­tion, con­form to the same state stan­dard and are con­sid­ered, at least by law, to be fully equiv­a­lent. The state pre­scribes min­i­mum (and nearly exhaus­tive) set of study sub­jects that must appear in each cer­tifi­cate. In prac­tice, exten­sion of study terms to three years slightly dis­ad­van­tages voca­tional schools’ male stu­dents who intend to con­tinue: they reach con­scrip­tion age before grad­u­a­tion or imme­di­ately after it, and nor­mally must serve in the army before apply­ing to undergraduate-​level institutions.

Though every­one is eli­gi­ble to post­pone their con­scrip­tion to receive higher edu­ca­tion, they must be at least signed-​up for the admis­sion tests into the uni­ver­sity the moment they get the con­scrip­tion notice from the army. Most of mil­i­tary com­mis­sari­ats offi­cials are fairly loyal to the poten­tial recruits on that mat­ter and usu­ally allow grad­u­ates enough time to choose the uni­ver­sity and sign-​up for admis­sion or enroll there on paid basis despite the fact that the spring recruit­ing period is not yet ended by the time most schools grad­u­ate their stu­dents and all those peo­ple may legally be com­manded to present them­selves to the recruit­ment cen­ters the next day after the graduation.

Males of con­scrip­tion age that chose not to con­tinue their edu­ca­tion at any stage usu­ally get notice from the army within half a year after their edu­ca­tion ends, because of the peri­odic nature of recruit­ment peri­ods in Russ­ian army.

Uni­fied state examinations:

Tra­di­tion­ally, the uni­ver­si­ties and insti­tutes con­ducted their own admis­sions tests regard­less of the appli­cants’ school record. There were no uni­form mea­sure of grad­u­ates’ abil­i­ties; marks issued by high schools were per­ceived as incom­pat­i­ble due to grad­ing vari­ances between schools and regions. In 2003 the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion launched the Uni­fied state exam­i­na­tion (USE) pro­gramme. The set of stan­dard­ised tests for high school grad­u­ates, issued uni­formly through­out the coun­try and rated inde­pen­dent of the student’s school­mas­ters, akin to North Amer­i­can SAT, was sup­posed to replace entrance exams to state uni­ver­si­ties. Thus, the reform­ers rea­soned, the USE will empower tal­ented grad­u­ates from remote loca­tions to com­pete for admis­sions at the uni­ver­si­ties of their choice, at the same time elim­i­nat­ing admission-​related bribery, then esti­mated at 1 bil­lion US dol­lars annu­ally. In 2003, 858 uni­ver­sity and col­lege work­ers were indicted for bribery, admis­sion “fee” in MGIMO allegedly reached 30,000 US dollars.

Uni­ver­sity heads, notably Moscow State Uni­ver­sity rec­tor Vik­tor Sadovnichiy, resisted the nov­elty, argu­ing that their schools can­not sur­vive with­out charg­ing the appli­cants with their own entrance hur­dles. Nev­er­the­less, the leg­is­la­tors enacted USE in Feb­ru­ary 2007. In 2008 it was manda­tory for the stu­dents and optional for the uni­ver­si­ties; it is fully manda­tory since 2009. A few higher edu­ca­tion estab­lish­ments are still allowed to intro­duce their own entrance tests in addi­tion to USE scor­ing; such tests must be pub­li­cized in advance.

Award­ing USE grades involves two stages. In this sys­tem, a “pri­mary grade” is the sum of points for com­pleted tasks, with each of the tasks hav­ing a max­i­mum num­ber of points allo­cated to it. The max­i­mum total pri­mary grade varies by sub­ject, so that one might obtain, for instance, a pri­mary grade of 23 out of 37 in math­e­mat­ics and a pri­mary grade of 43 out of 80 in French. The pri­mary grades are then con­verted into final or “test grades” by means of a sophis­ti­cated sta­tis­ti­cal cal­cu­la­tion, which takes into account the dis­tri­b­u­tion of pri­mary grades among the exam­i­nees. This sys­tem has been crit­i­cized for its lack of transparency.

The first nation-​wide USE ses­sion cov­er­ing all regions of Rus­sia was held in the sum­mer of 2008. 25.3% stu­dents failed lit­er­a­ture test, 23.5% failed math­e­mat­ics; the high­est grades were recorded in French, Eng­lish and soci­ety stud­ies. Twenty thou­sand stu­dents filed objec­tions against their grades; one third of objec­tions were set­tled in the student’s favor.

Edu­ca­tion for the disabled:

Phys­i­cal disability:

Chil­dren with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, depend­ing on the nature, extent of dis­abil­ity and avail­abil­ity of local spe­cialised insti­tu­tions, attend either such insti­tu­tions or spe­cial classes within reg­u­lar schools. As of 2007, there were 80 schools for the blind and the chil­dren with poor eye­sight; their school term is extended to 12 years and classes are lim­ited to 912 pupils per teacher. Edu­ca­tion for the deaf is pro­vided by 99 spe­cial­ized kinder­gartens and 207 sec­ondary board­ing schools; chil­dren who were born deaf are admit­ted to spe­cial­ized kinder­gartens as early as pos­si­ble, ide­ally from 18 months of age; they are schooled sep­a­rately from chil­dren who lost hear­ing after acquir­ing basic speech skills. Voca­tional schools for the work­ing deaf peo­ple who have not com­pleted sec­ondary edu­ca­tion exist in five cities only. Another wide net­work of spe­cial­izes insti­tu­tions takes care of chil­dren with mobil­ity dis­or­ders. 6070% of all chil­dren with cere­bral palsy are schooled through this chan­nel. Chil­dren are admit­ted to spe­cialises kinder­gartens at three or four years of age and are streamed into nar­row spe­cialty groups; the spe­cial­i­sa­tion con­tin­ues through­out their school term that may extend to thir­teen years. The sys­tem, how­ever, is not ready to accept chil­dren who also dis­play evi­dent devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­ity; they have no other option than home school­ing. All grad­u­ates of phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity schools are enti­tled to the same level of sec­ondary edu­ca­tion cer­tifi­cates as nor­mal graduates.

There are 42 spe­cialised voca­tional train­ing (non-​degree) col­leges for dis­abled peo­ple; most notable are the School of Music for the Blind in Kursk and Med­ical School for the Blind in Kislovodsk. Fully seg­re­gated under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion is pro­vided by two col­leges: the Insti­tute of Arts for the Dis­abled (enroll­ment of 158 stu­dents in 2007) and the Social Human­i­tar­ian Insti­tute (enroll­ment of 250 stu­dents), both in Moscow. Other insti­tu­tions pro­vide semi-​segregated train­ing (spe­cial­ized groups within nor­mal col­lege envi­ron­ment) or declare full dis­abil­ity access of their reg­u­lar classes. Bau­man Moscow State Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­sity and Chelyabinsk State Uni­ver­sity have the high­est num­ber of dis­abled stu­dents (170 each, 2007). Bau­man Uni­ver­sity focuses on edu­ca­tion for the deaf; Herzen Ped­a­gog­i­cal Insti­tute enroll dif­fer­ent groups of phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity. How­ever, inde­pen­dent stud­ies assert that the uni­ver­si­ties fail to inte­grate peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties into their aca­d­e­mic and social life.

Men­tal disability:

An esti­mated 20% of chil­dren leav­ing kinder­garten fail to adjust to ele­men­tary school require­ments and are in need of spe­cial school­ing. Chil­dren with delayed devel­op­ment who may return to nor­mal schools and study along with nor­mal chil­dren are trained at com­pen­satory classes within reg­u­lar schools. The sys­tem is intended to pre­pare these chil­dren for nor­mal school at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble age, clos­ing (com­pen­sat­ing) the gap between them and nor­mal stu­dents. It is a rel­a­tively new devel­op­ment that began in the 1970s and gained national approval in the 1990s.

Per­sis­tent but mild men­tal dis­abil­i­ties that pre­clude co-​education with nor­mal chil­dren in the fore­see­able future but do not qual­ify as mod­er­ate, heavy, or severe retar­da­tion require spe­cial­ized cor­rec­tion, board­ing schools that extend from 89 to 1821 years of age. Their task is to adapt the per­son to liv­ing in a mod­ern soci­ety, rather than to sub­se­quent education.

Chil­dren with stronger forms of intel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity are, as of 2008, mostly excluded from the edu­ca­tion sys­tem. Some are trained within severe dis­abil­ity groups of the cor­rec­tion board­ing schools and orphan­ages, oth­ers are aided only through coun­sel­ing.

Ter­tiary (uni­ver­sity level) education:

Accord­ing to a 2005 UNESCO report, more than half of the Russ­ian adult pop­u­la­tion has attained a ter­tiary edu­ca­tion, which is twice as high as the OECD average.

As of the 20072008 aca­d­e­mic year, Rus­sia had 8.1 mil­lion stu­dents enroled in all forms of ter­tiary edu­ca­tion (includ­ing mil­i­tary and police insti­tu­tions and post­grad­u­ate stud­ies). For­eign stu­dents accounted for 5.2% of enroll­ment, half of whom were from other CIS countries.[51] 6.2 mil­lion stu­dents were enroled in 658 state-​owned and 450 pri­vate civil­ian university-​level insti­tu­tions licensed by the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion; total fac­ulty reached 625 thou­sands in 2005.

The num­ber of state-​owned insti­tu­tions was ris­ing steadily from 514 in 1990 to 655 in 2002 and remains nearly con­stant since 2002. The num­ber of pri­vate insti­tu­tions, first reported as 193 in 1995, con­tin­ues to rise. The trend for con­sol­i­da­tion began in 2006 when state uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges of Rostov-​on-​Don, Tagan­rog and other south­ern towns were merged into South­ern Fed­eral Uni­ver­sity, based in Rostov-​on-​Don; a sim­i­lar con­glom­er­ate was formed in Kras­no­yarsk as Siber­ian Fed­eral Uni­ver­sity; the third one is likely to emerge in Vladi­vos­tok as Far East­ern Fed­eral Uni­ver­sity. Moscow State Uni­ver­sity and Saint Peters­burg State Uni­ver­sity acquired the fed­eral uni­ver­sity sta­tus in 2007 with­out fur­ther organ­i­sa­tional changes.

Andrei Fursenko, Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion, is cam­paign­ing for a reduc­tion in num­ber of insti­tu­tions to weed out diploma mills and sub­stan­dard col­leges; in April 2008 his stance was approved by pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev: “This amount, around a thou­sand uni­ver­si­ties and two thou­sands spin­offs, does not exist any­where else in the world; it may be over the top even for China … con­se­quences are clear: deval­u­a­tion of edu­ca­tion stan­dard”. Even sup­port­ers of the reduc­tion like Yevgeny Yasin admit that the move will strengthen con­sol­i­da­tion of acad­e­mia in Moscow, Saint Peters­burg and Novosi­birsk and dev­as­tate the provinces, leav­ing the fed­eral sub­jects of Rus­sia with­out col­leges for train­ing local school teach­ers. For a com­par­i­son, the United States have a total of 4,495 Title IV-​eligible, degree-​granting insti­tu­tions: 2,774 BA/​BSc degree insti­tu­tions and 1,721 AA/​ASc degree institutions.

Tra­di­tional model:

His­tor­i­cally, civil­ian ter­tiary edu­ca­tion was divided between a minor­ity of tra­di­tional wide cur­ricu­lum uni­ver­si­ties and a larger num­ber of nar­row spe­cial­i­sa­tion insti­tutes (includ­ing art schools). Many of these insti­tutes, such as the Moscow Engi­neer­ing Physics Insti­tute, and the Gerasi­mov Insti­tute of Cin­e­matog­ra­phy, are con­cen­trated pri­mar­ily in Moscow and Saint Peters­burg. Insti­tutes whose grad­u­ates are in wide demand through­out Rus­sia, such as med­ical and teach­ers’ insti­tutes, are spread more evenly across the coun­try. Insti­tutes in geo­graph­i­cally spe­cific fields will tend to be sit­u­ated in areas serv­ing their spe­cial­ties. Min­ing and met­al­lurgy insti­tutes are located in ore-​rich ter­ri­to­ries, and mar­itime and fish­ing insti­tutes are located in sea­port communities.

Med­ical edu­ca­tion orig­i­nally devel­oped within uni­ver­si­ties, but was sep­a­rated from them in 1918 and remains sep­a­rate as of 2008. Legal edu­ca­tion in Rus­sia exists both within uni­ver­si­ties and as stand­alone law insti­tutes such as the Aca­d­e­mic Law Uni­ver­sity (Russ­ian:) founded under the aus­pices of the Insti­tute of State and Law. In the 1990s many tech­ni­cal insti­tutes and new pri­vate schools cre­ated their own depart­ments of law; as of 2008, law depart­ments trained around 750 thou­sands students.

In 1990s the insti­tutes typ­i­cally renamed them­selves uni­ver­si­ties, while retain­ing their his­tor­i­cal nar­row spe­cial­i­sa­tion. More recently, a num­ber of these new pri­vate ‘uni­ver­si­ties’ have been renamed back to ‘insti­tutes’ to reflect their nar­rower spe­cial­iza­tion. Thus, for instance, the Aca­d­e­mic Law Uni­ver­sity has recently (2010) been renamed to the Aca­d­e­mic Law Institute.

In these insti­tutes, the student’s spe­cial­i­sa­tion within a cho­sen depart­ment was fixed upon admis­sion, and mov­ing between dif­fer­ent streams within the same depart­ment was dif­fi­cult. Study pro­grammes were (and still are) rigidly fixed for the whole term of study; the stu­dents have lit­tle choice in plan­ning their aca­d­e­mic progress. Mobil­ity between insti­tu­tions with com­pat­i­ble study pro­grammes was allowed infre­quently, usu­ally due to fam­ily relo­ca­tion from town to town.

Unlike the United States or Bologna process model, Russ­ian higher edu­ca­tion was tra­di­tion­ally not divided into under­grad­u­ate (bach­e­lors) and grad­u­ate (mas­ters) lev­els. Instead, ter­tiary edu­ca­tion was under­taken in a sin­gle stage, typ­i­cally five or six years in dura­tion, which resulted in a spe­cial­ist degree. Spe­cial­ist degrees were per­ceived equal to West­ern MSc/​MA qual­i­fi­ca­tion. A spe­cial­ist grad­u­ate needed no fur­ther aca­d­e­mic qual­i­fi­ca­tion to pur­sue a real – world career, with the excep­tion of some (but not all) branches of med­ical pro­fes­sions that required a post-​graduate res­i­dency stage. Mil­i­tary col­lege edu­ca­tion lasted four years and was ranked as equiv­a­lent to spe­cial­ist degree.

Move towards Bologna Process.

Rus­sia is in the process of migrat­ing from its tra­di­tional ter­tiary edu­ca­tion model, incom­pat­i­ble with exist­ing West­ern aca­d­e­mic degrees, to a mod­ern­ized degree struc­ture in line with the Bologna Process model. (Rus­sia co-​signed the Bologna Dec­la­ra­tion in 2003.) In Octo­ber 2007 Rus­sia enacted a law that replaces the tra­di­tional five-​year model of edu­ca­tion with a two-​tiered approach: a four-​year bach­e­lor degree fol­lowed by a two-​year master’s degree.

The move has been crit­i­cised for its merely for­mal approach: instead of reshap­ing their cur­ricu­lum, uni­ver­si­ties would sim­ply insert a BSc/​BA accred­i­ta­tion in the mid­dle of their stan­dard five or six-​year pro­grammes. The job mar­ket is gen­er­ally unaware of the change and crit­ics pre­dict that stand-​alone BSc/​BA diplo­mas will not be recog­nised as “real” uni­ver­sity edu­ca­tion in the fore­see­able future, ren­der­ing the degree unnec­es­sary and unde­sir­able with­out fur­ther spe­cial­i­sa­tion. Insti­tu­tions like MFTI or MIFI have prac­ticed a two-​tier break­down of their spe­cial­ist pro­grammes for decades and switched to Bologna process des­ig­na­tions well in advance of the 2007 law, but an absolute major­ity of their stu­dents com­plete all six years of MSc/​MA (for­merly spe­cial­ist) cur­ricu­lum, regard­ing BSc/​BA stage as use­less in real life.

Stu­dent mobil­ity among uni­ver­si­ties has been tra­di­tion­ally dis­cour­aged and thus kept at very low level; there are no signs that for­mal accep­tance of the Bologna Process will help stu­dents seek­ing bet­ter edu­ca­tion. Finally, while the five-​year spe­cial­ist train­ing was pre­vi­ously free to all stu­dents, the new MSc/​MA stage is not. The shift forces stu­dents to pay for what was free to the pre­vi­ous class; the cost is unavoid­able because the BSc/​BA degree alone is con­sid­ered use­less. Defend­ers of the Bologna Process argue that the final years of the spe­cial­ist pro­gramme were for­mal and use­less: aca­d­e­mic sched­ules were relaxed and unde­mand­ing, allow­ing stu­dents to work else­where. Cut­ting the five-​year spe­cial­ist pro­gramme to a four-​year BSc/​BA will not decrease the actual aca­d­e­mic con­tent of most of these programmes.

Post-​graduate levels:

Post­grad­u­ate diploma struc­ture so far retains its unique Soviet pat­tern estab­lished in 1934. The sys­tem makes a dis­tinc­tion between sci­en­tific degrees, evi­denc­ing per­sonal post­grad­u­ate achieve­ment in sci­en­tific research, and related but sep­a­rate aca­d­e­mic titles, evi­denc­ing per­sonal achieve­ment in university-​level education.

There are two suc­ces­sive post­grad­u­ate degrees: kan­di­dat nauk (Can­di­date of sci­ence) and dok­tor nauk (Doc­tor of sci­ence). Both are a cer­tifi­cate of sci­en­tific, rather than aca­d­e­mic, achieve­ment, and must be backed up by original/​novel sci­en­tific work, evi­denced by pub­li­ca­tions in peer-​reviewed jour­nals and a dis­ser­ta­tion defended in front of senior aca­d­e­mic board. The titles are issued by Higher Attes­ta­tion Com­mis­sion of the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion. A degree is always awarded in one of 23 pre­de­ter­mined fields of sci­ence, even if the under­ly­ing achieve­ment belongs to dif­fer­ent fields. Thus it is pos­si­ble to defend two degrees of kan­di­dat inde­pen­dently, but not simul­ta­ne­ously; a dok­tor in one field may also be a kan­di­dat in a dif­fer­ent field.

Kan­di­dat nauk can be achieved within uni­ver­sity envi­ron­ment (when the uni­ver­sity is engaged in active research in the cho­sen field), spe­cialised research facil­i­ties or within research and devel­op­ment units in indus­try. Typ­i­cal kan­di­dat nauk path from admis­sion to diploma takes 24 years. The dis­ser­ta­tion paper should con­tain a solu­tion of an exist­ing sci­en­tific prob­lem, or a prac­ti­cal pro­posal with sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­i­cal or mil­i­tary poten­tial. The title is often per­ceived as equiv­a­lent to West­ern Ph.D., although this may vary depend­ing on the field of study, and may not be seen as such out­side of Russia.

Dok­tor nauk, the next stage, implies achiev­ing sig­nif­i­cant sci­en­tific out­put. This title is often equated to the Ger­man or Scan­di­na­vian habil­i­ta­tion. The dis­ser­ta­tion paper should sum­ma­rize the author’s research result­ing in the­o­ret­i­cal state­ments that are qual­i­fied as a new dis­cov­ery, or solu­tion of an exist­ing prob­lem, or a prac­ti­cal pro­posal with sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­i­cal or mil­i­tary potential.[61] The road from kan­di­dat to dok­tor typ­i­cally takes 10 years of ded­i­cated research activ­ity; one in four can­di­dates reaches this stage. The sys­tem implies that the appli­cants must work in their research field full-​time; how­ever, the degrees in social sci­ences are rou­tinely awarded to active politicians.

Aca­d­e­mic titles of dot­sent and pro­fes­sor are issued to active uni­ver­sity staff who already achieved degrees of kan­di­dat or dok­tor; the rules pre­scribe min­i­mum res­i­dency term, author­ing estab­lished study text­books in their cho­sen field, and men­tor­ing suc­cess­ful post­grad­u­ate trainees; spe­cial, less for­mal rules apply to pro­fes­sors of arts.

Mil­i­tary post­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion rad­i­cally falls out of the stan­dard scheme. It is pro­vided by the mil­i­tary acad­e­mies; unlike their West­ern name­sakes, they are post­grad­u­ate insti­tu­tions. Pass­ing the course of an acad­emy does not result in an explic­itly named degree (although may be accom­pa­nied by a research for kan­di­dat nauk degree) and enables the grad­u­ate to pro­ceed to a cer­tain level of com­mand (equiv­a­lent of bat­tal­ion com­man­der and above).