Education in Russia /
System of education in brief /
Russian Educational System today /
As a result of the changes that occurred in the Russian Federation after 1990, and in order to ensure quality and efficiency, a new national mechanism for quality control and assessment was introduced. This mechanism includes:
the state educational standard;
state final attestation.
1.The State Educational Standard
The State educational standard is a set of nationally recognized requirements laid down by the State which determines a mandatory minimum for the contents of educational programmes, the maximum work loads assigned to students, as well as general course loads and requirements to be met by graduates. The State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education was developed by teaching and methodological associations that brought together higher education institutions in relevant fields of study on the basis of a competition organized by the State Committee for Higher Education and approved by Decree No. 940 of 12 August 1994 of the Government of the Russian Federation.
It covers the following:
the structure of higher education and state documents certifying graduation from a higher education institution;
a list of fields of study (specialities);
the state requirements for mandatory minima of the contents of educational programmes (basic educational programmes) and of knowledge and skills to be met by graduates;
the state requirements for the general course load of an educational programme and for the maximum work load assigned to students;
the state control mechanism for the implementation of the State educational standard for higher professional education.
The mandatory minimum for the content of an educational programme (basic educational programme) constitutes the so-called federal component of the educational programme. It can be complemented by the regional component which reflects national and regional requirements in regard to the content of education. Each higher education establishment develops its own educational programmes which must include the federal component and may also contain the regional component and components designed by the particular higher education institution.
Licensing is a procedure whereby an educational institution is granted the right to carry out educational programmes in relevant fields of study (specialities) and at corresponding levels of education. It consists of the recognition of expertise, the taking of decisions, and the issuing of a duly worded authorization, i.e., a license.
Licensing is based on the results of an evaluation carried out by expert commissions that are composed of representatives of educational authorities (federal and local), educational institutions, and the public. The aim of the evaluation is to determine whether or not conditions for the implementation of educational programmes at a given educational establishment correspond to state and local requirements with regard to construction norms and rules, sanitary and hygienic standards, possibilities for health care for students and academic staff, the equipping of the premises and the teaching and learning processes with the proper infrastructure, the staffing of the institution, and the educational qualifications of the academic staff. The content, organization, and methodologies of the teaching and learning processes are not included in this evaluation. The license is issued by the state education authorities or, on their behalf, by the local (municipal) education authorities on the basis of the conclusions of the expert commission. This licensing procedure has no equivalent in the western European countries but is somewhat comparable to state licensing procedures in the United States of America.
Even though licensing grants the right to engage in educational activities, it does not confer the right to award educational certificates of the state format certifying graduation from an educational institution. In order to earn this right, an educational institution must be accorded state accreditation.
State accreditation is the formal recognition of the status of an educational establishment by the State on the basis of solid evidence that its activities conform to nationally established requirements. The procedure results in the granting to the educational institution concerned the right to award nationally recognized certificates of the state format certifying the successful completion of an educational programme, to use a State seal of the Russian Federation, and to be included in the financing scheme of the State budget. State accreditation is applicable both to state educational establishments and to private institutions. For higher education institutions, State accreditation is regulated by a decree of the State Committee for Higher Education.
Two main questions are considered during the accreditation process:
recognition of the type of educational institution, which is determined by the level of education (general education, vocational education, non-university or university level higher education) which it claims to offer;
recognition of the kind of educational institution (university, academy, institute, college, tekhnikum, uchilishche) to which a particular institution claims to be accredited.
Recognition of the type of educational institution is granted on the basis of the results of an analysis and evaluation of the following:
the correspondence of the content of education (curricula and syllabi) to the State educational standard;
the information base of the educational and research process (modern sources of information on different types of available support - printed or electronic - which correspond to the content of educational programmes as well as means of information transmission, storage, and use);
the correspondence of the real knowledge and skills of graduates to the State educational standard (minimum requirements in regard to the level of knowledge and skills of graduates).
The recognition of the kind of educational institution is carried out on the basis of the study of the characteristics of the latter according to the typology established for educational institutions, which include:
the list of specialities and the full set of educational programmes offered by the educational establishment;
the possibilities for graduates to continue their studies at advanced levels (Magistr, doctoral, and postgraduate studies);
the nature and volume of the research conducted (fundamental, applied, exploratory) and the existence of a scientific school;
the textbooks, monographs, and instructional materials prepared by the academic staff of the institution and the provision of the educational process with them;
the composition of the research and teaching staff;
the provision of the educational programmes with the necessary educational and laboratory facilities and equipment;
the provision of graduates with employment opportunities and of research projects with implementation opportunities;
the equipping of the institution with student residence halls, dining facilities, social and medical services, and sport and entertainment facilities;
the presence of international co-operation activities;
the activities carried out by the institution in its capacity as a centre of culture and education.
The accreditation procedure includes both a self-evaluation and a peer review. An educational institution wishing to be granted State accreditation should begin with the self-evaluation. The self-evaluation is carried out on the basis of the unified requirements and methodology developed by the Ministry for General and Professional Education. The next step is for the education institution to submit an application, accompanied by the self-evaluation report, for the State accreditation.
Upon receiving the application, an expert group for peer review is constituted. It consists of experts from educational establishments, the academic community, research institutions, industry, etc. The expert group studies the self-evaluation report and makes an on-the-spot evaluation of the quality of the educational institution, in general, and of each of its educational programmes, in particular. By means of expert criticism and appraisal, an analysis is made of whether or not the eligible requirements for accreditation mentioned above have been met. The outcomes of the expert group are reflected in a report (conclusion) which serves as the basis for taking a decision in regard to State accreditation.
State accreditation of non-university level higher education establishments is conducted by the state managerial bodies of the constituent parts of the Russian Federation (subjects of the Russian Federation) in charge of education on the territory of which these institutions are located, with the participation of the ministries concerned.
The State accreditation of university level higher education institutions is conducted by the Ministry for General and Professional Education. The Ministry is also responsible for the elaboration of the unified methodology of the State accreditation and for the overall control of the accreditation process in the country. With this responsibility in view, a special unit for accreditation matters was set up. The Ministry for General and Professional Education aggregates the data on state accreditation, using special computer software for this purpose.
The final decision in regard to State accreditation for given institutions is taken by the state managerial body which carries out the accreditation procedure. For university level higher education institutions, the final decision is taken by the Ministry for General and Professional Education. In the case of a positive decision, the Certificate of State Accreditation is granted. This certificate establishes the status of the educational establishment (its type and kind), the list of its accredited specialities and educational programmes, and their levels (non-university, university, postgraduate), the degrees and qualifications to be awarded, and the period of validity of the certificate.
The procedure for the State accreditation of educational establishments in the country was introduced in 1992 by the Law On Education. As the application of the accreditation procedure for the whole education system in the country requires a great deal of time and effort, it has been decided to consider that all the state and municipal educational establishments are accredited.
4.The State Final Attestation
The State final attestation is a special procedure aimed at the assessment of the knowledge and skills of graduates and of the correspondence of the latter to the State educational standard. The procedure is applied to those educational institutions that have successfully undergone State accreditation. In the case of higher education institutions, it culminates in the award of a diploma of the state format and of a qualification. The attestation procedures are regulated by the decree of 25 May 1994 of the State Committee for Higher Education on the State Final Attestation of Graduates of Higher Education Institutions in the Russian Federation.
The State final attestation of graduates consists of one or of several evaluation procedures:
the final examination in an individual discipline;
the final interdisciplinary examination in the speciality;
the defense of a qualifying paper or project.
The defense of a qualifying paper or of a project is a mandatory component of the State final attestation. In addition to the defense, the attestation procedure usually includes a final examination (in an individual discipline or in an interdisciplinary one). The concrete list of evaluation procedures, programmes of final examinations, procedures and terms for the preparation of qualifying papers or projects, and criteria for their assessment are approved by the Academic Council of the institution (faculty) concerned.
The final examination in an individual discipline reveals the knowledge and skills of graduates as set against the curriculum and covers the minimum content of the given discipline established by the particular State educational standard. The final interdisciplinary examination in the speciality, along with the requirements for the content of individual disciplines, reflect the general requirements for graduates as set up by the State educational standard in the given field of study (speciality). Qualifying papers or projects are called diploma papers and diploma projects respectively. Their topics are set by the higher education institution concerned. Students have the right to select topics from the list provided or to propose their own topics along with a plan of development for a given topic. For the preparation of diploma papers or projects, a supervisor and consultants (if necessary) are appointed for each student. Before the defense can take place, all qualifying papers and projects must be reviewed by experts in the respective subjects.
The State final attestation takes place before State Attestation Commissions set up by the rector of the higher education institution concerned. The members of State Attestation Commissions are experienced professors from the given higher education institution and from other institutions, researchers from research institutions, and experts from firms, enterprises, and other such institutions. The chairperson is invited from outside the institution and is approved by the administrative body in charge of the given institution.
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