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Education in Russia

In the Russian Federation, there are 180,000 educational establishments of all types and categories. About 35 million people or 23 percent of the total population of the country are annually involved in one type of education or another. More than 6 million people are employed in the sphere of education.

Form of education

There are different forms of education: full-time, part-time (evening and correspondence course programmes), and so-called externat (a form of education that enables individuals to study independently and to take examinations). The Government of the Russian Federation establishes a list of specialities for which part-time study and externat are forbidden. The minimum requirements as to the content of education and to the knowledge and skills of graduates, set up by the State educational standard, do not depend on the form of education, and for part-time education and externat, they are the same as for full-time studies.

The number of part-time students constitutes about one third of the total number of students. Part-time students devote the majority of their time to independent studies. In order to compensate in part-time studies for the decrease in contact time, specific education technologies are used: special instructional materials and aids, forms of distance education, modern communication and information technologies, and individual and collective consultations. The number of part-time students studying in a given group is smaller than that of full-time students.

The marking system

The marking system in Russia is unified for all levels of education:

general education higher education

                5 excellent (otlichno)

                4 good (khorosho)

                3 satisfactory (udovletvoritelno)

                2 unsatisfactory (neudovletvoritelno)

                - credit (zachet) and non-credit.

The lowest passing grade is 3 (for general education) or satisfactory and credit (for higher education). Students are only permitted to enroll in the next year of study and to be awarded a diploma if they have passing grades in each subject of the curriculum.

General education

General education comprises three stages corresponding to the levels of educational programmes:

primary general education (as a rule, the standard duration is four years);

basic general education (the standard duration is five years);

secondary (complete) general education (the standard duration is two to three years).

General education programmes now comprise eleven years of studies, while before 1985, they lasted ten years. The official name of general education schools is the Secondary General School. During the last years, new types of schools called gymnasiaand lycei (singular: gymnasium and lyceum), that can be state and private, were set up. The duration of studies in gymnasia and lycei can exceed that of Secondary General Schools, and their educational programmes can be more advanced.

General education curricula normally stipulate thirty-four weeks of study per year and, as a rule, twenty-seven to thirty-eight hours of study per week. The academic year starts on 1 September and runs through the beginning of June. School examinations are scheduled in June.

Vocational education (nachalnoe professionalnoe obrazovanie)

Vocational education (nachalnoe professionalnoe obrazovanie) is the initial stage of professional education. It is aimed at the training of skilled workers, usually on the basis of basic general education. Vocational training for certain occupations may be based on secondary (complete) general education.

Two kinds of vocational education can be distinguished:

The first kind of vocational education is offered by vocational education institutions called Professional Schools (Professionalnoe Uchilishche). In these institutions, educational programmes are aimed at the acquisition of professional qualifications and mainly cover subjects for professional training. The duration of these educational programmes is:

1 to 2.5 years, following completion of basic general education (nine-year programmes);

1 to 1.5 years, following completion of secondary (complete) general education (eleven-year programmes).

After passing the State final attestation, graduates of Professional Schools are awarded Diplomas The second kind of vocational education is offered by vocational education institutions called Professional Lycei (Professionalnye Litsei). In these institutions, educational programmes, in addition to the professional education component, also include a general education component (educational programme of the tenth and eleventh grades). After passing the State final attestation, graduates of a Professional Lyceum are awarded diplomas that not only give them the right to exercise a profession but also indicate that they have received secondary (complete) general education. This diploma gives its holder the right to be admitted to university level higher education institutions (in case studies are pursued in the same profile, university programmes can be shortened).

The duration of studies in a Professional Lyceum is:

at least 3 years, following completion of basic general education (nine-year programmes);

1 to 1.5 year, following completion of secondary (complete) general education (eleven-year programmes).


Higher education

There are two kinds of higher education in the Russian Federation:

non-university level higher education (educational programmes not leading to academic degrees);

university level higher education (educational programmes leading to academic degrees).

The Duration of Programmes In a Tekhnikum (Uchilishche):

2 to 3 years after secondary (complete) general education (grade 11);

no less than 3 years after basic general education (grade 9).

In a College:

3.5 to 4 years after secondary (complete) general education (grade 11);

4 to 4.5 years after basic general education (grade 9).

University Level Higher Education

Universities are now subdivided into the following groups:

Universities for Humanities and Sciences;

Pedagogical Universities (former Pedagogical Institutes);

Medical Universities (former Medical Institutes);

Agricultural Universities (former Agricultural Institutes);

Technical Universities (former Polytechnic and Specialized Institutes);

Academies: higher education institutions the activities of which are aimed at the development of education, science, and culture through the conducting of fundamental and applied research and the offering of training programmes at all levels of higher, postgraduate, and continuing education in a single major area of science, technology, or culture. An academy must be the leading research and methodological centre in its area of activity.

Institute: independent higher education institutions or divisions of universities or academies which offer educational programmes at all levels of higher, postgraduate, and continuing education in a number of fields of science, technology, and culture and conduct research.

This new typology is replacing the old typology of the former Soviet Union, in which higher education institutions consisted of the following types of establishment:

Universities - typically offering a broad range of disciplines especially in the humanities and the sciences;

Polytechnic Institutes - typically offering a variety of technological disciplines;

Specialized Institutes - typically offering education in only one major discipline, for example, medicine, agriculture, economics, teacher education, etc.

Since 1992, Russian higher education has had a multi-level structure, and higher education institutions may confer the following degrees and diplomas:

an Intermediate Diploma (at least two years of study);

a Bakalavr Diploma (at least four years of study);

a Specialist Diploma (five to six years of study);

a Magistr Diploma (six years of study).

The duration of study in the medical sciences is the following:

  • five years in dentistry and pharmacy; 

  • six years in medicine; 

  • four years in nursing following completion of vocational education and two-and-a-half years following completion of non-university level higher education. 

The medical sciences are the only area in which diplomas of university level higher education do not give the right to their holders to exercise their professions independently. In order to be admitted to the medical professions, the holders of university level higher education diplomas must undertake further in-depth professional training:

a one-year course programme (called the internatura) or

a two- to three-year course programme (called the ordinatura).

Training in the internatura or the ordinatura takes place on the premises of the best hospitals, clinics, and research medical institutes. Graduates from the internatura or ordinatura are awarded certificates that specify their specialization areas and entitle them to exercise their professions independently.

Doctoral programmes

The hierarchy of advanced degrees in Russia traditionally includes doctor's degrees of two levels: the Candidate of Sciences (Kandidat Nauk) and the Doctor of Sciences ( Doktor Nauk). The Candidate of Sciences degree normally requires at least three years of study beyond graduation from a university level higher education institution and the award of the Specialist or the Magistr diploma. The Doctor of Sciences degree can be earned after a period of further study following the award of the Candidate of Sciences degree. In reality, to earn a Doctor of Sciences degree requires five to fifteen years beyond the award of the Candidate of Sciences degree.

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