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 continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.