Quality of Belarus’ higher education stimulates students’ exodus to study abroad
Last week, the Education Ministry announced an additional call for applications to higher education establishments and reduced the admission grade to a minimum on specialities, which are “in sharp demand by the economy and social sphere”.
With its actions, the Ministry attempted to solve the problem of students’ shortage funded from the state budget. The problem is that the number of places at universities exceeds the number of high school graduates. For instance, 45 public and 9 private universities annually produce about 80,000 specialists with higher education (in 2014 - almost 77,000). Two-thirds of students pay tuition fees which are often higher than in other countries in the region. The way the authorities attempt to solve the ‘lack of students’ problem (by lowering admission standards) will only exacerbate it in the future, because the quality and prestige of Belarusian higher education will continue reducing. As a result, many young Belarusians prefer studying in foreign universities (most often - in Poland, Lithuania, and Russia), where tuition fees are compatible with those in Belarus. If Belarusian Education authorities do not change their policies in education, recent trends (reduced quality of the education, growing tuition fees and graduates outflow to study abroad) will persist in the future.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.