Russian History


Higher Education

The VUZ category includes all of Russia's postsecondary educational institutions; in 1995 these totaled about 500, including forty-two universities. The other two types of VUZ are the institute and the polytechnic institute. Institutes, the largest of the three groups, train students in a specific field such as law, economics, art, agriculture, medicine, or technology. The polytechnic institutes teach the same range of subjects but without specialization in a single area. Most universities teach the arts and pure sciences.

The institute program consists of two phases. After completing two years of general studies, a student receives a certificate; he or she then may take an entrance examination to continue for two more years or terminate the program and seek a job. Completion of the next two years results in conferral of a baccalaureate degree. The next level of higher education is specialized study based on a research program in the area of future professional activity. This phase lasts at least two years, at the end of which the individual is designated a specialist in the chosen field. The top level of higher education is graduate work, which entails a three-year program of study and research leading to a degree of candidate (kandidat ), then finally to a degree of doctor of sciences (doktor nauk ).

In the post-Soviet era, the system of higher education has undergone a more drastic transformation than the primary and secondary systems. Authority has moved from the center to agencies in local and subnational jurisdictions. About 14 percent of institutions of higher learning are located in the twenty-one republics of the federation (see table 13, Appendix). Under the new system, each VUZ can determine its own admissions policy and the content of its academic programs. These institutions also have their own financial resources and statutes of operation.

Most of Russia's universities are located in large cities. Moscow State University, which was founded in 1755 and has about 28,000 students and 8,000 teachers, enjoys the highest reputation. The Russian People's Friendship University in Moscow has about 6,500 students and 1,500 teachers, and St. Petersburg State University has about 21,000 students and 2,100 teachers.

The Soviet Union concentrated its vocational training resources in areas such as space and military technology. It lagged behind the West in technical and vocational training in other sectors because of the practice of ending students' preparation in these areas at the secondary level. In Russia vocational schools traditionally have had a poor image; only in the early 1990s was comprehensive vocational education introduced for postsecondary students. In 1993 some 400 VUZ offered specialized training in specific vocational areas ranging from engineering and electricity to agricultural specialties. Some vocational schools have combined general and vocational curricula, with the goal of giving specialists a broader educational background. Another trend is the integration of higher technical education with on-the-job training by linking educational institutions with enterprises and factories.

In the post-Soviet era, business education has expanded dramatically because the demand for competent managers far outstrips the supply. Experts believe that Russia's business education programs will play an important role in transforming social attitudes toward the market economy and capitalism and establishing a new economic infrastructure. The primary goal of the new programs is to create familiarity with the principles of the market economy while casting aside Marxist economic ideology. In the first two years after the Soviet Union dissolved, more than 1,000 business schools and training centers were established.

Three types of institution offer business management education: state and private business schools and private consulting firms. Many in the last category simply offer high-priced lectures, but some business schools have developed sophisticated programs. Examples are the International Business School of Moscow State University, the Graduate School of International Business of the Academy of the National Economy in Moscow, and the International Management Institute in St. Petersburg. Several schools offer full master of business administration (MBA) degree programs based on Western models. Business schools are funded by the state and by private enterprise. Competent faculty are at a premium in this field; many have been trained by Western firms such as IBM.