Belarusians snub home institutions for degree courses abroad

November 18, 2005

Students from Belarus are deserting the state-run university system to pursue their studies elsewhere in Europe.

This trend is especially evident at the European Humanities University. It was based in Minsk until it was closed on the orders of president Alaksandr Lukashenka and now operating out of neighbouring Lithuania.

This year it has 260 students - 170 on bachelors courses and 90 at masters level.

Alaksandr Kalbaska, dean of the EHU arts faculty, said that the students could be divided, roughly into four groups:

* Those attracted by the high-level European-style education at EHU (about 30 per cent)

* Those who see EHU as a stepping stone to the West for employment or postgraduate work (about 30 per cent)

* Those on sponsored scholarships established by Western donors (about 30 per cent)

* Those dissatisfied with the increasingly ideologically biased content of education in Belarus or other political reasons (about 10 per cent).

These motives are not mutually exclusive and are not based on a proper survey. But Dr Kalbaska said that although some students set their sights on posts abroad, EHU-International had strengthened its commitment to things Belarusian. When it was located in Minsk, most courses were taught in Russian. Now there are Belarusian-taught courses in political sciences and journalism, and further expansion planned.

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