Russia embarks on Education Revolution

Russia's taking its first steps in implementing the Western model of a two-level education system. Starting from 2009, Russian students will be able do a Bachelor's degree first and then decide if they want to go on to a Master's.

Until now students did a standard five-year degree and received one diploma.

Although the law has been passed, the issue remains contentious in Russia. Some universities say they won't be able to prepare a competent specialist in just four years. 

“At 90-95 % of universities education is still the same as it was 30 years ago. And in this sense the situation is quite bad. Education cannot respond to the new economic and social demands,” said Dmitry Livanov, the rector at one Moscow universities.

His university is one of the first to adopt a wide range of government measures to modernise the higher education system.

Verbal examinations, which lent themselves to bribery, are being replaced by anonymous written tests. Courses are being updated, and there is closer co-operation between the lecturers and the industries in which their students will work.

Yet the majority of senior Russian academics have balked at the changes.

“Our education system, the Soviet, the Russian education system is world famous. If we drop it, we will be bringing up a generation of ignoramuses,” said Valery Lunin, Chemistry Department Dean, MSU.

But Professor Livanov is sure that even if it was worth saving the Soviet system, it's too late.