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Comparative analysis of the results for the period of 2001 – 2003, carried out by the RF Ministry of Education and then discussed at the meeting of the special USE Board on 14.10.2003, showed greater mobility of those entering higher educational establishments in the RF subjects participating in the USE experiment, higher competition rate, growing quantity of those rural school graduates who took the entrance examinations and those accepted; quite a number of school graduates entered various higher educational establishments not even leaving their native habitat.

According to the analysis data of study progress among first year students in a number of higher educational establishments taking part in the USE experiment, correlation between the USE and the first examination session results turned out to be higher than that between the results of the traditional entrance examinations and further study progress.

Members of the special RF Ministry of Education USE Board think that practical introduction of the USE public observers system in 2003resulted in greater confidence of the society and better public control over the process of conducting the experiment.

According to the estimates of the RF Ministry of Education, on the whole, the first three years of the USE experiment:

  • showed that the goals set up when starting the USE experiment, can very well be achieved;
  • confirmed real possibility of combining the USE results and higher educational establishments entrance examinations;
  • enabled solution of certain technical problems which were detected when using the respective USE measurement and controlling devices.

The indirect results of the USE experiment include Decision of the RF Ministry of Education, dated May 7, 2003, on the final abolition of the practice popularly known as combined examinations, that is examinations which simultaneously are school finals and entrance examinations to higher educational establishments. Such a system worked earlier under condition that higher educational establishments concluded the respective agreements with certain secondary/high schools but was first abolished by Decision of the Collegium of the RF Ministry of Education on March 12, 2002, which was duly reflected in the respective Orders of the RF Minister of Education # 1932, dated 28.05.2002and # 2398, dated 25.06.2002, but nevertheless remained active even throughout the year of 2003for those higher educational establishments which had concluded the said two-year long agreements in 2001, i. e. before these Orders.

As to some of the problems which became manifest during the USE experiment, experts of the RF Ministry of Education think that their positive solution will most definitely require:

  • more precise defining and further development of the USE normative documentation on both federal and regional levels;
  • * further improvement of the respective measurement and controlling materials;
  • better USE organizational and/or technological procedures;
  • *analyzing different versions of making informational flows during the USE preparation and conducting stages;
  • *considerably wider sphere of higher educational establishments and secondary/high school representation during all the USE preparation and conducting stages.
  • monitoring as connected with quality of school education in schools of the Russian Federation;
  • further development of the respective public observers system.

It is not at all difficult to notice that, among others, no mention is made of the problem of financing the USE system after the experiment has been completed. This is explained by a simple fact that the situation with regard to the USE financial support from the federal budget is already quite tense and the RF Ministry of Education agrees to include a region into the USE experiment only provided there is a respective regional co-financing. The FDEP program which remains the major source of financing the USE experiment, shall stop such financing upon formal completion of the experiment in the year of 2005. It is also to be mentioned that conducting USE in all the RF regions on the regular basis will require about 800 (eight hundred) mln roubles annually (based on the level of specific expenditures in 2003minus spending on purchase of the necessary equipment).

Another problem not to be ignored is the absence of a clear-cut and sufficiently efficient technology for taking in students according to the USE results. The explanation for this is quite simple: entrants who have sent their USE results to several higher educational establishments and turned out to be among the best (taken in) in not one but several higher educational establishments shall render the original documents but only to one of them, the rest having to wait a certain number of days after which they will be able to offer the vacancies to the second wave entrants who will find themselves in a rather similar situation, the more so since a number of them could be already taken in as students of probably less prestigious higher educational establishments. Hence the admission process could very well become a mess by the beginning of the academic year (which, among other significant factors, is quite possible particularly in view of the quality of our postal services and our traditional transport congestion in the summer time).

Still another but nevertheless potentially quite a serious problem is connected with making the city of Moscow also part of the USE experiment. Initially, the Moscow government agreed to conduct the USE experiment in the 2003 – 2004academic year only in about half of its administrative districts (about 50% of all Moscow secondary/high schools) having moved forward at that a number of additional conditions which put Moscow in a somewhat privileged position. Among these are: use of the uniform text in the Russian language and literature; conducting USE not in special places but in schools in the presence of the school teachers. That adopting a specific, different from others USE procedure even in one particular region is basically ruining the whole USE structure is obvious because it de facto makes end results practically immeasurable. Moreover, such an approach not only makes it impossible to take in students on any uniform basis but does not even permit to estimate the USE results as quality indicative for both the general educational establishments and the regional educational systems. After that the Moscow Government rejected USE as compulsory even for part of schools having given the school-leavers the right to take it as they wish.

The year of 2003saw continuation of the experiment with financing of certain educational establishments using the so called government individual financial certificates (GIFC). According to the admission campaign for the 2002/2003academic year in 6higher educational establishments – participants of the experiments, over 14,3thousand (total number of entrants – 35thousand) were taken in as first-year students, with 8,4thousand (or 58%) having been taken in on the GIFC basis.

Distribution of the budget funds and freshmen – participants of the experiments by the GIFC categories in the higher educational establishments is shown in Table 48, below.

Table 48

Distribution of Freshmen and Budget Funds by the GIFC Categories
in Higher Educational Establishments Participants
of the 2002 2003Experiment (all forms of education, in %)

GIFC category

Freshmen

GIFC-based budget funds

2002

2003

2002

2003

First

8

11,6

20

28

Second

39

27,5

49

38

Third

37,6

42,7

25

28

Fourth

10,8

12,5

5

5

Fifth

4,7

5,7

1

1

Source: Data of the SU-HSE

It is to be specially emphasized that the GIFC funds can also be used by higher educational establishments to cover such items of their current expenses as salaries and wages, etc. The rest of the expenditures are to be financed by the respective higher educational establishments fully in accordance with the existing budget system of financing. Planning of expenditures for the following years is made with account taken of the GIFC value as recounted according to the federal budget approved categories for the current year.

Special mention should also be made that in the year of 2003, the GIFC amount (all categories included) was much lesser as compared against the previous year (see Table 49). But then the amount of the first three GIFC categories was made larger for a number of specialities. This can be rather easily explained by a strong intention of the RF Ministry of Education to provide budget support for training region-priority specialists. The RF Ministry of Education Regulation # 2376, dated early July, 2003, On Further Development of the Experiment with Regard to GIFC Financing of Certain Higher Professional Education Establishments, provides that the RF subjects shall jointly with the respective higher educational establishments – participants of the experiment, determine for the year of 2003the list of specialities which, due to the lack of the population demand, are particularly significant for the region’s social and economic development. This list sets higher financial support for the GIFC first, second and third categories. However, the whole number of persons for all the specialities in the said list must not exceed 300 (three hundred) and should a student be transferred to a study speciality not included in the list the said higher level financing is not retained.

Table 49

Category-Based GIFC Amounts in 2002 2003

GIFC category

GIFC budget financing (roubles)

2002

2003

2003

Set up GIFC* amount

Set up GIFC** amount

Higher GIFC*** amount

1st category

14500

12500

17500

2nd category

7500

7200

12200

3rd category

3900

3000

8000

4th category

2800

2000

2000

5th category

1200

700

700

* Approved by the Order of the Minister of Education on 25.03.2002, # 1013.

** Approved by the Order of the Minister of Education on 26.03.2003, # 1193.

*** Approved by the Order of the Minister of Education on 3.06.2003, # 2376.

This experiment of GIFC-based higher educational establishments financing revealed a number of problems connected with practical introduction of new approaches to the current higher educational establishment budgeting. Among these problems are:

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