RUSSIAN SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION
The Russian educational system, as it has been noted many times by major international experts, is one of the most developed and advanced educational systems in the world. In the context of a changing society the educational system proved to be capable, on the one hand, of adapting to rapid transformations of new realities (while preserving its well-known strong qualities) and on the other hand, to the phase of prolonged evolutionary reformation.
Higher education is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Education and Science of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the accreditation and licensing of higher education establishments, and for developing and maintaining State Educational Standards.
Only accredited higher education establishments have the right to issue state diplomas and degrees ensuring full vocational and academic rights, and are covered by the international agreements on mutual recognition and validation of education documents. Only accredited higher education establishments have the right to use the seal with the national emblem of the Russian Federation. All state degrees awarding specific qualifications to a graduate, irrespective of the type of educational institution (University, Academy, and Institute) and the ownership pattern (state, municipal, non-state), are equal in status.
Compulsory Basic Education:
Basic general education lasts for nine years. Graduates of this level may continue their education at senior high school to receive secondary general education. They may also enter an initial vocational school or non-university level higher education institutions:
- Initial vocational schools include PTU which offer one-and-a-half to two years' purely professional education and a Professional'ny Litsei which offer joint professional and secondary general education for three to four years and skilled workers' training at different levels.
- Non-university level higher education institutions also offer three- to four-year professional and secondary general education and two-year vocational training for holders of the School Leaving Certificate. Secondary general education on the basis of basic general education continues for two years and ends when students are 17-18. Secondary education leads to the award of the Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education.
Graduates from a secondary general school may apply for entrance to a higher education institution.
Higher education is provided by public and non-public (non-State) accredited higher education institutions. There are two levels of higher education:
- Basic higher education (4 years) leading to the Bachelor's degree, the first university level degree. This is equivalent to the B.Sc. degree in the US or Western Europe.
- Postgraduate higher education (5-6 years or more). After two years, students are entitled to receive a Magistr's degree. This is equivalent to a Master's Degree (M.Sc, M.A.) in the US or Western Europe. After a Master's degree, students can continue to study towards a doctoral degree: the first level, equivalent to Ph.D. and the second, highest level, equivalent to Professor.
Since 1992, Russian higher education has introduced a multilevel system, enabling higher education institutions to award and issue the following types of degrees:
- Bachelor of Science degree (not less than 4 years of training)
- Master of Science degree (2 years of training after Bachelor degree)
Master of Science degree give graduates the right to enter Postgraduate courses.
The Russian Federation discerns the following types of higher education establishments:
- University is a higher education institution with activities aimed at developing education, science, and culture by performing fundamental scientific research and training at all the levels of higher, post-higher and further education within a wide range of Natural Sciences, Humanities and other directions of science, technology, and culture.
- Academy is a higher education institution aimed at developing education, science, and culture by performing fundamental scientific research and training at all the levels of higher, post-higher and further education, mainly in one specific area of science, technology and culture.
- Institute is an independent higher education institution or a part (structural unit) of the university, and academy that applies vocational educational curricula in specific areas of science, technology, culture and is involved in scientific research.
Having obtained the Bachelor's degree, students may apply to enter the Master's Degree program or continue their studies in the framework of the Specialist's Diploma programs. The Bachelor's degree is awarded in all fields except Medicine after defending a Diploma project prepared under the guidance of a supervisor and passing the final exams. In Medicine, the first stage lasts for six years.
The academic year starts on the first of September and ends at the end of June. It is divided into an autumn and spring semester.
A study period of 16 weeks in autumn term and a study period of 15-16 weeks in spring term during which a course is taught. Each semester ends with one assessment week during which students take course tests and present assignment work and defend course projects.
Exam session: two or three week period is set aside each semester for examinations and completion of final assessments.