Private sector races across Mongolian steppes

September 19, 1997

Privatisation and market forces in higher education have penetrated as far as the homeland of Genghis Khan.

A package of education reforms introduced on the eve of the new academic year includes the sale of a flagship Mongolian higher education and research establishment, the Institute of Finance and Economic Studies, to the private sector.

According to the Mongolian ministry of education, it is a pilot project which, if successful, should "set the policy" for the future.

Whether this means that all 123 higher and professional education establishments in Mongolia can expect privatisation in the near future is as yet unclear.

Mongolian students have other more pressing matters to think about. Tuition and hostel fees have been raised dramatically in some cases, with students who last year paid 12,000 tugrik (Pounds 10) now facing bills of between 30,000 and 90,000 tugrik.

The Pedagogic College is a rare exception - its students face "only" a 20 per cent rise.

Loans for students below the poverty line are being introduced interest free while studies continue but liable to interest at 1 per cent above inflation after graduation, and with a compulsory six-year time limit for repayment.

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