It should also be noted that the currently vigorously advocated prin ciple, according to which “ those most talented and needy should be entitled to free education” is poorly realized from the technical perspec tive. That may result in a drastic reduction in not even a qualitative, but socially significant to the population higher education. Such a decision will primarily batter the lower middle class and, most likely, would to yet a greater extent lower the chances to get an access to higher education for countryside residents. That in turn will result in the rise of the social tension, as the availability of education so far has formed a shock absorber with respect to numerous negative processes.
The mass higher education compensates for many defects of the contemporary school. Its existence de facto makes the intended profili zation of the high school excessive, for the profilization is being carried out, albeit in a somewhat distorted form, in the frame of the “general” higher education, with roughly as many as 20–25% of students also re ceiving vocational training of a relatively high quality, while another 5– 10% of them receiving a prestigious education. To a significant extent it is such, because even being of not so much of a high quality, it enables one to find a highly paid (according to Russian standards) job and con sequently pretend to an expensive vocational training (MBA, PhD). It would be more efficient to provide a graduate with professional skills (education) after he receives the general higher education, rather than to carry out the profilization of higher school. That could help solve the problems of labour culture and discipline that are rather urgent for to day’s Russia and which the current training of a teenager in the primary, secondary and even higher vocational training institutions so far has failed to ensure.
The programs of professional retraining, second higher education (the higher education by an accelerated program), Master programs, MBAs, various training courses are increasingly forming blocks of the emerging new system of vocational training. All such programs rest upon the general higher education and knowledge and skills, primarily the skill to study by oneself and seek information, it provides.
Higher education still retains rudiments of the former system of spe cialists training, which account for 20–25% of a high quality vocational training, which still enjoys demand. That maintains in the society the outdated misconception of the efficiency of the former higher educa tion model and, at the same time, the non productivity of nearly 60% of the existing system. It should be noted that in Russia the education we call “professional” is being increasingly complemented with paid educational programs that make it competitive and demanded for. At this point, important is the fact that the labour market demands for the very specialty graduates have received in higher school, which enables them to fairly quickly win good positions in domestic companies or find jobs overseas118.
Let us now consider to what extent the mass (general) higher educa tion is affordable to the budget.
The average 2002/03 budget expenditures per student capita in the secondary school accounted for 10,500 Rb. Hence, in the event of the This is far from being true, as long as the education which Russians currently tend to view as elite is concerned: while enabling them to pretend to prestigious jobs domesti cally, it is rarely valued overseas. To exemplify this, the diploma issued by the Moscow State Judicial Academy appears very highly quoted domestically and practically incom petitive overseas. The same is true for diplomas of many leading Russian economic uni versities.
transition to the 12 year schooling, the expenditures on another 2 years of tuition, given the number of students of 1,300.000 would account for 27.3 bln. Rb.
The 2002/03 average budget expenditures per university student capita accounted for 16,500 Rb. Provided a 4 year tuition of 650,000 of the so called “budget” students (50% of the overall enrolment), the ag gregate budget expenditures would amount to 42.9 bln. Rb. Given that 30 35% of budget students receive a professional and/or prestigious education demanded by the labour market, the budget expenditures on the mass (general) education) would make up 27.9–30.0 bln. Rb.Thus, in this particular example the additional budget expenditures on the general higher education vis vis the transition to the 12 year schooling should have not been in excess of 2.7 bln. Rb. That allows conclusion that in the circumstances the society will find more eco nomic and social benefits in the mass (general) higher education than in the transition to the 12 year schooling.
Higher education also appears more economically efficient than the transition to the 12 year schooling in the light of adjustments the forthcoming demographic decline should not before long introduce to the education policy and economic computations. Thus, the year should see a 1/3 contraction (from 1.3 mln. down to 870,000) in the number of high school graduates. Assuming that the budget financing of the school education would be growing at a pace not lower than the one of GDP growth, one can conclude that all the benefits from the contraction of the contingents would remain in that sphere. An analo gous assumption can be made regarding budget expenditures on higher education, albeit they were growing at a higher pace over past years.
Given these assumptions, it is easy to demonstrate that if the proportion of students that receive vocational and prestigious edu cation remains on the level of 30–35% and the number of budget students enrolled in Bachelor programs accounts for 50–60%120, the general higher education once again proves to be more economically The amount of 27.9 bln., providing the professional and elite education accounts for 35%, and 30.0 bln. Rb. – if the respective rate is 30%.
Should the legal provision in compliance with which 170 of 10,000 of the population should become budget university students, the acceptance by universities of 50–55% of the 870,000 graduates as budget students would match the requirement.
education once again proves to be more economically profitable than the transition to the 12 year schooling.
In the event of the transition to the USE GPEL system, the overall volume of budget financing should remain at the same level as in the case of 50–60% of students receiving tuition on the budget base, while the others paying for that.
There also may become possible another variant, under which higher education remains free only for the most talented and most needy students (there are heated debates on the issue now), which also suggests that the government should spend budget funds on educating the former drafted soldiers whose contracts have expired.
Should the nation retain the mass higher education and give it the character of the general higher education, the society should see visi ble social benefits, without increasing economic costs vis vis those demanded by the introduction of the 12 year schooling and profile education in high school, while in this particular case there would ap pear 4, rather than 2, years of profile education, which is important. Ac cordingly, while embarking on this particular strategy, the society and expert community should ask themselves as to how to boost efficiency of the general higher education and how the efficiency should be un derstood. This clearly necessitates modification of current require ments to university graduates and a different approach to the issue of social expectations from higher school, and policy changes with re spect to PVT and SVT.
With the transition to GPEL, the overall volume of budget expendi tures on the higher education should remain unchanged, except for the funds which would be allocated in a differentiated manner between secondary school graduates (students) Accordingly, the budget funds would be allocated between universities in a somewhat different fashion than now – that is, the inflow of the budget funds into the professional and prestigious part of the education system should grow vis vis less successful universities. This means a contraction in the government expenditures on the general higher education, i.e. the strategy of the transition to the mass higher education would prove to be yet more profitable vs. the transition to the 12 year schooling and profile educa tion in the high school.
However, it is absolutely out of question to carry out the transition to the 12 years schooling in parallel with the retaining of the mass higher education. Such a policy would result in doubling expenditures on solv ing essentially the same task, without any additional effects.
The recognition of the fact that we are undergoing the transition to the general higher education compels us to reconsider the problem of its free or paid delivery and consequently, the same problem with re gard to the professional higher education. Today, a partial transition to the paid professional higher education in principle has already taken place, which became possible thanks to the rise of the sector for paid (accelerated) education and MBA programs and, in numerous cases, fully paid Master programs.
This allows a question as to why the general higher education is free for some students and paid for others. In this context, the transition to GPEL appears in a different light. The USE results (results of schooling) allow identification of those for whom the general higher education will be completely free and those who have received insufficient level of knowledge at school and will have to co finance it. If the GPEL problem is viewed from this stand, the issue of professional and prestigious edu cation would appear in a different light, too. It is the kinds of education that should become fully paid, for such education ensures a prompt access to the professional career. As far as this particular segment of the educational market is concerned, it can be only the most gifted stu dents, winners of large competitions (international or nationwide) who should receive tuition at the government’s expense, but not those who have won regional competitions, as suggested now. In addition, the group of “the best and the brightest” can be complemented by school graduates, who score 100 at the USE on a certain subject (according to some computations, their number should account roughly for 1–4 per 1,000 students passing the examination). The overall number of the most gifted students can be estimated at the level of 8–10,000 (roughly as much as 0.8 to 1.0% of the overall number of secondary school graduates). They would be able to enrol in the most prestigious or pro fessionally demanded universities, while the others will be able to enrol in the same universities or departments only after paying a considerable sum, even if their GPELs are of the highest category.
It also appears appropriate to issue GPEL for the term of up to years, i.e. for the Bachelor program, after which the graduate will be able to work for some time, to be back to the university for another 1–years, to receive a specific professional qualification on the paid basis.
As to the most needy or children from remote regions, they should enjoy a facilitated access to the general (mass) education. After the Bachelor course, they can go and find a job and consequently receive an educational loan to complete their university course (the terms of the loan will depend on the level of their wages, among other factors), or a grant, if such a student has demonstrated an adequate qualification during the Bachelor course or in his professional area. It will be much easier for a relatively mature individual with a certain background to pay for 1–2 year professional training than for a school graduate, and an important choice of way of life will be made more consciously.
It is the professional level of higher education which should become subject to the state order and contracts on professional training and payment for it on the part of the government or employer, for it is this particular level on which both the government and the individual keen to receive a specific specialty will already be able to assess both mutual capacity and ability to honour their respective obligations they are sup posed to assume. The current proposals on modernization of educa tion, both the general (USE, 12 year schooling, and profile education in senior forms) and professional ones so far have aimed at improving the current, fundamentally outdated model that does not meet needs of the labour market and employers’ vision of the necessary level of vocational training.
The employer values the already existing general vocational training, because it enables a potential employee to faster and more efficiently develop professional skills (communication skills, labour discipline, ability to orient himself in an actual professional situation). The popula tion also adequately respond to the change in the status of higher edu cation: parents appear increasingly focused on their child receiving two higher educations to become successful (sustainable) in a new situa tion in his life. Accordingly, due the family’s income and social status, families build fairly long education strategies that comprise both pri mary and secondary vocational training (for certain types of families) and a few types of higher and postgraduate education.
Overall, the formal system of professional training is increasingly gaining the module structure (with the length of an educational model being, as a rule, 2 years). With the rise in the public conscience of a new model of higher education (the general higher education plus voca tional training (not necessarily the higher one), one can put an issue of efficiency of various “module gaining” strategies over time. In principle, the following model is possible: 4 years of the general higher education, 1–2 years of work, 1–2 years of the first stage of vocational training, 2– 3 years of work, 1–2 years of the second stage of vocational training, 2– 3 years of work, 2–3 years of an advanced vocational training, followed by work and professional retraining courses. This chain can be inter rupted at any link and somewhat reformatted due to specific conditions of a given person's life and professional activity. The model fairly ade quately meets the logic of continuous education.
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