Russian students ready to get tapping as bribery is rooted out

March 4, 2005

An anti-corruption drive launched by a central Russian university aims to halt bribe-taking by its lecturers with the help of student informers.

Togliatti State University has set up a secure email server that goes direct to the vice-chancellor's office, allowing students to report tutors who demand bribes.

Fifty staff are already under threat of dismissal while allegations against them are investigated. Prosecutors in Togliatti have launched criminal cases against three of them.

The university says its aim is to promote transparency in its dealings with students.

Alexander Sachev, pro-rector for student security and the co-holder, along with the rector, of the secret access code to the anti-corruption email inbox, said the problem required a radical response.

"Bribery is a cancer and can only be cured by surgery - with a sharp scalpel. We've tried threats in the past but nothing worked," Mr Sachev said.

An investigation found evidence of sophisticated and systemic bribery, with payments demanded from students for private tutoring by outside firms.

Students who failed to pay were told they would not pass exams.

The university has launched an overhaul of its teaching methods to combat corruption. From September, students will spend two thirds of their time on independent study and only a third on contact time with teachers.

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