Students say cheers to £5

July 26, 2002

Doubling the government stipend that Russian students receive is one proposal under discussion in Moscow, where the modernisation of university funding is high on the political agenda.

Boosting student grants is among the more popular ideas put forward by working groups of university rectors and education officials - even if in practice it means awarding students a maximum of another 200 roubles (£5) a month, which barely covers a round of drinks in a college bar, even in Russia.

More controversial are proposals for introducing performance-related per capita funding criteria, a plan promoted by federal education minister Vladimir Filippov, former rector of Moscow's Peoples' Friendship University.

Mr Filippov's GIFOs - state-issued funding vouchers - are designed to tie the allocation of government cash for university tuition funding to the grades of students.

The minister, a Communist with a reputation for creating cross-party alliances, claims the state vouchers will help eradicate corruption and prompt students either to improve their performance or pay towards their education.

The voucher system, which has not been finalised, proposes attaching higher per capita funds to students who achieve top grades in a new "unified state exam" that was piloted in five of Russia's 89 regions last year, and lower funds, or no funds at all, to those who do less well.

Mr Filippov claims that more than £700 million a year is spent by parents to ensure their children find places at universities.

He said that a transparent system of tuition funding through cash for grades would combat corruption and bring the black market in education spending out into the open.

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