Russia laments graduate exodus

December 20, 2002

Some 5 per cent of new Russian graduates - 100,000 over the past two years - are seeking jobs abroad, says Moscow State University rector Viktor Sadovnichiy.

He warned a Unesco-sponsored international seminar on the integration of Russian and European higher education that this loss of the country's intellectual resources would bring about the "degradation" of Russia, at which point the need for Russian higher education to match that of Europe would no longer exist.

His remarks seem to contradict the views of education minister Vladimir Filippov, who last month predicted that Russia was raising a generation of graduates for whom the country would never have jobs. He was referring, however, to the fact that cash-strapped Russian universities were prepared to accept, on a fee-paying basis, applicants who failed the entrance exam. Nearly half of the student population of Russia consisted of such "commercial" admissions, the purpose of which was to avoid or defer military service.

As a result, Russia is suffering from an overproduction of graduates, whose degrees are often meaningless, and a lack of properly qualified personnel.

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