Minister: blow the whistle on bribes

January 23, 2003

Russian education minister Vladimir Filippov is planning to crack down on corruption in universities as he pushes ahead with higher education reforms.

Mr Filippov, former rector of the People's Friendship University in Moscow, wants students, their parents and university staff to blow the whistle on corrupt staff who take bribes from students who want to secure college places.

An education security unit should be set up to respond to complaints about corruption in an attempt to stamp out a problem that officials admit is rife in the Russian university sector, Mr Filippov told the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta .

Mr Filippov said problems included the payment of bribes to gain admission or better exam grades and corruption in private firms that help students get into prestigious institutions.

Many professors and lecturers moonlight for private cramming firms to coach students for admissions exams where they sit on the admissions boards, Mr Filippov said.

Up to 300,000 of the 350,000 students who gain places on publicly funded courses every year were coached by admissions tutors, the minister said.

Action should also be taken against the widespread practice of selling fake diplomas. At Moscow metro stations, sellers hold placards offering diplomas, work books and other education or work-related documents. The ministry planned to set up a database of all legitimate graduates in an attempt to end this practice, Mr Filippov said.

But Russian students and parents remain cynical about the possibility for success of any anti-corruption drive. Given the choice between gaining a university place for a price or blowing the whistle and losing out, most would pay the money.

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