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Russia is to make harsher demands on higher education
Russia is to make harsher demands on higher education, holds Andrei Fursenko, Minister of Education and Science. "Higher educational standards are among our burning problems," he said in an Echo of Moscow radio live cast. "The number of colleges and universities is skyrocketing. That might be not bad if only they were up to standards of the Soviet time. "Today's educational standards are below public demands. Something has to be done about it. First of all, we must check compliance with the existing rules, which are shrugged off all too often, in private and government establishments alike. "I am not the one to act tough-but to improve education is a must. Employers are to be sure that those they are taking on have not merely educational certificates but knowledge, while students must be sure they will get the knowledge they need." The minister went on to provide the latest statistics. Russia has 3,200 higher educational establishments, branches considered. No cuts on the number of free tuition accommodations are coming up, he reassured. The current quota, of 170 per ten thousand population, is even overdone-but the country will soon be unable to meet it with birth rates going down. "We must do everything in our power to provide higher education for all who want it, and who can study. That is the goal of all our reforms." Andrei Fursenko champions continuous learning: "Even the best education suffices for five years-ten, at the longest, irrespective of its field. Life goes on, and postgraduate training becomes necessary in five to ten years. A transition to lifelong learning is among our top priorities for today." Educational standards will inevitably plummet unless military conscription is suspended for under- and postgraduates. "We can surely reduce the damage to the least possible-but a damage is inevitable," stressed the minister. "As things are now, boys mostly go to college not to study but to avoid the army, so such colleges and universities that guarantee conscription postponed are the most popular, and never mind their educational standards. "This is an extremely entangled issue, and whatever way to solve it has its pros and cons," he said.
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