At the moment the trend for a two-stage higher education is led by Moscow State University (offering a bachelor's degree in 28 subjects) and St Petersburg State University.
The bill is proposed to come into force on 1 September 2007. Since the adoption of this draft law may complicate the implementation of regulations which set qualification requirements for officials in certain positions or engaged in certain activities, it is proposed that simultaneously amendments to some legislative acts will be made to clarify the qualification requirements that some categories of officials need to meet.
It is expected that the adoption of this draft law will help to remove a sharp structural mismatch between the demand for and supply of university-educated workforce that exists on the Russian labour market. According to the Russian Science and Education Ministry, at the moment only 15-20 per cent of Russian universities train graduates who meet the requirements of the labour market. In the opinion of the Russian science and education minister, Andrey Fursenko, the two-level system will make it possible to spend budget funds more efficiently and to involve employers in forecasting future educational needs as well as to considerably expand their participation in financing human resources training, especially on the second level.
One of the main arguments in favour of adopting the two-level bachelor's-master's system is the need for Russian higher education to integrate into the world education space and meet international education standards.
At the same time it appears that the proposed model for moving to a two-stage system of higher professional education contains certain problems and risks the more substantial of which are the following:
1. The problem of content and of differences between the curricula and study plans under a bachelor's and a master's programmes; justification of requirements and criteria for the division between two levels. There is a risk that the move to the new system will become an imitation and a formal reduction of the duration of studies from five to four years. The experience of the above mentioned universities, which are already working under the new system, shows that the transition takes several years; therefore the mandatory introduction of the two stages of higher education for all universities from the next academic year is unlikely to mark a real change in training. If the draft law merely provides the opportunity to move to the new system, it is not clear what its point is: this opportunity is already provided in the current legislation. That is why a thorough study and development of new curricula (together with teaching methodologies) for the bachelor's and master's levels are required.
2. Limited access to master's degrees, increase in the provision of paid-for education services. The transition to the two-stage system of higher education poses the question of the need for a better-justified regulation of budget-funded places on master's courses. The existing practice shows that the transition to what is in effect paid-for master's degrees becomes a crucial factor that limits access to higher education for certain categories of students. Some university vice chancellors predict that the bachelor's stage will retain its competitive basis, while the master's state will largely become paid-for. The most capable and talented students will get a quota for free education of about 30 per cent. Studies for a master's degree will provide students with research and analytical skills required to become university professors, do research in the academic or commercial sector.
3. Uncertainty over the status of graduates with bachelor's degrees in the eyes of prospective employers.
Future employers are uncertain in their assessment of the two-stage system of higher education. The labour market does not yet consider graduates with bachelor's degrees as full-fledged experts. At the same time polls conducted among employers show that when recruiting an individual, they are considering a whole set of factors, primarily their relevant professional training: employers are interested not so much in formal qualifications as in skills and work experience.
4. Cuts in budget funding for universities. Some university vice chancellors are concerned that the transition to a two-stage system may lead to cuts in the amount of budget funds their universities receive because the duration of studies for a bachelor's degree is four years as compared with the five years of current professional training.
Thus, one has to admit that for the Russian system of higher education the transition to the two-stage system and integration with the Bologna process presents not just the formal task of changing the duration of studies at different levels but the problem of filling curricula with new content in accordance with employers' requirements and the need to enable Russian graduates to compete on the modern labour market, both domestic and international.
I. Rozhdestvenskaya New trends in Russia's migration policy In 2006-2007 Russia adopted a set of laws and regulations aimed to change the situation with regulating migration flows, to make international migration manageable and predictable. The main changes referred to the administrative registration of migrants and their employment in Russia. However, a number of problems remain, in particular as regards the economic justification of some decisions in migration policy – the introduction of quotas for foreign workforce and the ban on foreigners' to work in the retail sector.
The second half of 2006 and especially early 2007 marked a period of an unprecedented rise in attention paid by the Russia legislative and executive authorities to the problem of international migration to the country. That was manifest in the adoption of a number of regulations that introduced a drastic change to rules governing foreign nationals' residence and registration in Russia. Significant changes have been introduced to regulations governing foreign nationals' work in Russia. Let us consider the innovations brought by these laws and regulations, their expected results and possible bottlenecks.
The first laws and subsequent regulations for international migration were adopted in post-Soviet Russia in the early 1990s and were defined by new trends in international migration. The new laws and other provisions were largely about regulating flows of forced migrants from former Soviet republics; ensuring the new rights and freedoms of former Soviet citizens in terms of their place of residence; setting rules for entering and leaving Russia given more open borders and the creation of the institute of citizenship of the new independent states.
In the mid-1990s there came a certain turning point in the nature of migration processes: the flows of forced migrants had been gradually replaced by flows of labour migrants, which necessitated the adoption of special regulations governing the status of foreign workers and rules for recruiting foreign workforce in Russia. The relevant legislative process developed not only at the federal level: many regions used their right for legislative initiative to adopt their own laws and regulations, which often ran counter to federal regulations.
By the late 1990s it became clear that a new legislative field was needed in which foreign nationals could legally arrive, study and work in Russia. For several years work continued on a set of new federal norms which culminated in 2002 in the adoption of a law on the legal status of foreign nations and in 2003, of a law on Russian citizenship.
So why just several years after all that did a drastic revision of the recently adopted laws and the development of some new regulations become necessary A rather tough approach to regulating the status of foreign nationals' in Russia, especially labour migrants, resulted in violations of the laws on a massive scale.
The large scale of illegal labour migration in Russia in the early 2000s14 was largely provoked by the considerable difficulties foreign national encountered when obtaining registration and work permits and the inefficiency of the existing mechanism for controlling employers' activities. The procedure for employers to obtain permission to recruit foreign workforce was also very complicated.
What is the gist of the main changes in Russian migration laws, which many experts believe to be to a certain extent revolutionary On the whole, the new regulations remove part of excessive obstacles, which were of little value in terms of managing the migration situation and by default discouraged a considerable section of migrants (and employers) from abiding by the law. The liberalization covered, among other things, the procedure of registering foreigners who arrive in Russia on short stays and the procedure of obtaining work permits for citizens of countries, which have a visa-free regime with Russia. Excessive administrative procedures that applied when Russian employers took on these workers were scrapped. Together with simplifying the legalization of foreign nationals' stay and employment in Russia, tougher administrative punishments for violating the new norms15 were introduced. Changes have also been made to quotas for foreign workforce and to regulations for employing migrants in different sectors.
The new rules for the administrative registration of short-term migrants differ from the old ones in that foreigners visiting Russia no longer have to spend endless hours in the local passport and visa departments and be accompanied by all grown-up residents in the address at which they were planning to get their registration. Instead, a representative of the receiving side (for example, a Russian resident or a representative of the foreign national's prospective employer) needs to fill in a special form and post it to the local branch of the Federal Migration Service. At the post office the sender is given a stamped slip, which later serves as proof of the foreigner's legal stay in Russia16. Another feature of the new registration requirements envisaged by the law on migration registration is the possibility to get registered not at one's residential address – as required by the previous law17 - but at a legal entity address, for example that of the employer. This considerably simplifies the registration procedure, however does not remove the problem of providing foreign employees with decent living conditions.
The new regulation governing the procedure for obtaining a work permit in Russia contains a clearer explanation of differences in the rights and obligations of foreigners coming from countries which have a visa regime with Russia and those that don't. Citizens of those countries which have a visa-free agreement with Russia can be issued with a work permit directly at the Federal Migration Service's local branches and without the employer's involvement, as used to be the case which complicated the work permit procedure by adding several more stages to it. For their part, employers of nationals from countries, which have a visa-free regime with Russia, do not need to obtain work permits for these employees. Old rules for employees and employers are retained only for migrants who cannot enter Russia without a visa.
Judging from pronouncements by senior officials of the Federal Migration Service and from media reports, the liberalization of legislation has brought about a sharp increase in the number of migrants who wish to make their stay and work in Russia legal. However, the structure that was meant to service the new regulations, has turned out to be not ready, which has resulted in long queues (at post offices and divisions of the Migration Service) and an immediate reaction from intermediaries who – for a rather high fee – are offering Experts, who adhere to a balanced approach to estimating the number of illegal migrants in Russia, agree on an average annual figure of 4-5 million foreign nationals, as opposed to the persistently quoted in the media amount of million. The latter figure seems excessive. Given the specific gender and age structure of labour migrants and even more specific structure of their employment in different sectors of Russian economy, the proponents of the 15-million figure must admit that in such sectors as retail trade, construction and several others, the number of illegal migrants (predominantly, men) equals the total number of employed Russian nationals, hence their contribution to total output produced.
See Federal Law No 189-FZ of 5 November 2006 on amendments to the Russian Code of Administrative Violations (as regards tougher punishments for violating the procedure of employing foreign nationals and individuals without citizenship). This article does not consider that aspect of the law.
Russian Government Regulation No 9 of 15 January 2007 "On procedure for migration registration in the Russian Federation of foreign nationals and individuals without citizenship".
the same requirement applies to Russian citizens who wish to obtain a temporary registration at a location different from their permanent address.
to post notifications of migration registration and to obtain work permits. It is worth noting that by now there has come a certain change in the authorities' attitude to this problem. The work of post offices in terms of coping with the new functions has been streamlined; regions which accept labour migrants (namely, Moscow) are planning to build basic mobile hotels to accommodate foreign labourers; the creation of a network of state-licensed agencies which would assist in migrants' registration is being considered and so on. Thus the year 2007 may become a period of radical change in the migration situation in Russia, a period when a large number of labour migrants will be legalized, when their legal and economic status will be clarified.
However, not all regulations adopted recently can be interpreted in an unequivocally positive light.
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