Higher education at a crossroads: where the reforms are going (skeptic notes)





higher education, reform of higher education, optimization of education, science in higher education, Unified State Exam (USE), bureaucratization in universities, prebendialism, upbringing


The article analyzes the present state and methods of reforms in higher education in Russia. Attention is drawn to the fact that the higher education development goal is not clearly formulated. The goal is substituted for a proposal and means to realize this goal which, in fact, makes it hard to assess the final results of the university studies. The author investigates the so-called ‘optimization’ which, along with its positive effects (shutdowns of pseudo educational institutions), has led to a disorganized and disoriented character of the learning process with dominant bureaucratic indicators evaluating universities’ performance. The transfer of the basic functions of science to the universities, imposed from above, goes contrary to the centuries-old Russian traditions, represents an incorrect copy borrowed from foreign experience and is heavily disputed in the paper. Special attention is paid to the analysis of the Unified State Exam which serves to reveal the formal knowledge of facts the pupils acquire; however it is completely deprived of any artistic element. The paper also examines ‘prebendialism’, a form of quasi-market relations. In conclusion, the author highlights that a refusal to execute educational functions has far-reaching negative impacts.

Acknowledgments. The article is supported by Russian Science Foundation, project no. 18-18-00024.

Author Biography

Zhan T. Toshchenko, Russian State University for the Humanities

  •  Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia 
    • Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Scientific Director of the Department of Sociology of the Russian State University for Humanities
  • Institute of Sociology of Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
    • Leading Researcher