An army of pacifists

November 29, 2002

Russian universities are producing an "army of the unemployed", according to education minister Vladimir Fillipov.

In an interview in the journal Itogi , he says that the number of graduates far exceeds the jobs requiring their qualifications. Out of 1.3 million school-leavers in Russia in 2001, 1.1 million enrolled at universities and institutes of higher education.

Young Russian men apply to university to escape military service, which they hope to avoid indefinitely or at least until the Chechnya conflict is over.

Applicants who fail entrance examinations can still get a university place if they are prepared to pay, and the government - which struggles to fund the higher education sector - is only too willing for them to do so.

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