EDITORIAL: Russian Universities, Awful as Always

EDITORIAL

Russian Universities, Awful as Always

It always amuses us when Russians are “shocked, shocked” to learn that their universities have been exposed before the world as third-rate, as they were once again last week.  The Moscow Times reported:

Not a single Russian university made it to the top 200 list of the world’s best schools released this fall by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the most authoritative global annual rating of higher education institutions. The top-ranked school is Harvard University, while many other U.S. and British universities prevail on the list.

The ranking is based on 13 elements, including research income, ration of international and domestic staff, income from industry, teaching, and citation impact.

The reasons that they are so wretched are as obvious as the sun.

Russians pay teachers poverty wages, humiliating them before their students and making it impossible for anyone to respect or desire to enter the profession. This makes Russian teachers extremely bitter and lazy, and more importantly horrifyingly corrupt. Their goal is not to teach and build minds, but to receive bribes and build an income to care for their families.  How can such instructors fairly be compared to those in the West.

And that’s only the beginning of the problem.

Russians, like their Soviet ancestors, regiment and repress teachers, denying them the opportunity to think and express themselves, instead asking them to become part of a totalitarian system in which the state determines what the facts are and teachers are just instruments of propaganda.  In our issue today, we report on the Kremlin’s further efforts for instance to rewrite Russian history.

Russians are cut off from the world by their rabid xenophobia. This means that, like the infamous “Emperor” with his “new clothes” Russians simply cannot perceive the world accurately, and they pass this ignorance from one generation to the next.

It goes on and on.

Russians are unwilling to compare themselves to foreigners and admit their shortcomings; instead, they prefer denial and self-delusion, and therefore Russia only falls farther and farther behind the advances and developments of the West. Russia’s total inability to compete in winning Nobel prizes for science clearly shows how backward Russia is in this regard.  They are unable to admit that Russian teachers of talent are fleeing to the West where working conditions are far better; this year a Russian defector won a Nobel prize after being enabled in foreign lands, and the first thing he did after winning was to condemn Vladimir Putin’s neo-Soviet system.

There’s still more.

Russians are so very arrogant. As the Moscow Times reports:

Some might say the problem boils down to a “Squirrel Institute” mentality — an arrogance by scholars that causes them to refuse to learn English or publish their research in English. As a result, their work often escapes the attention of the international academic community, and Russian universities suffer.

Russia’s response to this new humiliation? Instead of forthrightly admitting the flaws and seeking to shake things up with reform, Russia is doing the exact opposite:  It is claiming that it has been excluded only because of the “russophobia” of evil foreigners, and it has decided it will make its own list of great universities and insert Russian candidates on it, as if that will somehow fix the problem.  As the Moscow Times reports:  “The idea was explicitly backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Russian rectors last month.”

Here we see revealed in all its horror the total incompetence, born of inexperience and lack of credentials, that characterizes the Russian Kremlin when it attempts to make policy. All this government knows is blunt trauma and mendacity, it has no background or foundation upon which to build any sort of coherent policy that would help better the nation.  If Russia continues to be led by such a clan of apes, it will surely degenerate just as the USSR did into absolute chaos and collapse.

22 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russian Universities, Awful as Always

  1. Education specialists are paid poverty wages in Russia and take bribes from students to simply exist.

    I read recently that 80% Russians have University education. If you have ever visited Russia you will know just what a reflection this is on their ”esteemed” education system.

    • Two 2010 Nobel Prize in physics winners, Geim and Novoselov, who were educated in Russian universities, have different opinion:

      In televised comments on Tuesday, Geim, 51, who has not worked in Russia since the early 1990s, praised his Soviet education: “You cannot obtain such an education, not in Harvard nor in Cambridge, nowhere.” http://www.peopleforum.cn/viewthread.php?tid=41268

      Regarding the ranking, it is of course much biased. Not speaking about Russian schools, Sharif, Tsinghua and IIT are top world-class schools from Iran, China, and India, respectively, where all top US universities get their grad. students. BTW, the percentage of foreign students from these three countries (at least in engineering) is larger that that of americans. Do you guess why?

      • Casasa, any school, even Madrasa or 4-months courses for secretaries can yield independent minds. Soviet education was very fundamental. There were very little bribes. Current schools are exactly how they are described in the article. You said: “BTW, the percentage of foreign students from these three countries (at least in engineering) is larger that that of Americans. Do you guess why?” Since I am one of them (although I did not study engineering, I studied science) I will tell you why: same reason immigrants were coming here before. They are desperate, they are determined, they have their lives on the line. That is why they work three times as hard, deprive themselves of everything and go for it. This is mentality of the immigrant who wants their future to happen here, in America, and who has no other option.

        • Anna,

          being desperate or determined is not enough to be accepted by Stanford of MIT. You must have EXCELLENT education to be accepted by these schools, to compete with best American students.

          • I respectfully disagree, Casasa. One of my physical chemistry professors used to say: you are getting college degree not to remember what formula to use and when but to be able to know what book to use to look up your formula. Another professor (math) used to allow his students to play poker during his lectures because according to him poker develops logical thinking and that is the ultimate goal. Let me remind you about another great mind -Lomonosov. He walked from a Siberian village to Moscow to go to school. As a teenager he went to a religious school with little kids despite humiliation and bullying from his teachers and did what needed to be done to get educated. He fought and he worked hard. So, yes, desperation, thirst for knowledge, ambition and determination can move mountains (i.e. get you to MIT or Stanford). And lastly, Einstein used to say that genius is only 1% is a gift, and 99% is hard work. There is a reason why those smart boys and girls from the third world countries come to the western graduate schools. Their educational system might have right attributes, but does not provide for a great education overall and is not set to promote and nourish academic achievements.

      • Just because Mr. Geim is a Nobel Prize winner does not mean he is right on everything and is an authority on education or on anything else outside his field.

        But let’s stipulate he is correct on this and there really were one or two super elite schools in the former Soviet Union that gave this superior education in sciences. How does that disprove the article? The article discusses the current state of affairs.

        Even if there were such schools over 20 years ago does not mean they are still of the same quality, and it’s likely they are not. A lot of leading scientists and teachers (including Mr. Geim himself) left Russia and they don’t appear to be going back. Do you think that has not negatively affected the quality of education?

  2. Wal, this is the biggest of the paradoxes: after Soviet Union broke all those educated and well read citizens rushed to their TVs to listen to the mass healers and charge their face creams through the TV screen with the energy to cure all their diseases. They became open to the true history books, yet they elected a KGB head as their president. They can travel, they copy western shows, western holidays, western lingo, yet they loathe the west more then they did when The Party told them so. It blows my mind away. Its like the final scene from 1984(remember, when Smith became a true believer?) or some sort of mutated Godzilla-like Stockholm syndrome. All that education was rubbish. Slaves were not taught to think, they were taught to apply formulas at the command, like Pavlov dogs. And like true slaves, according to Stanislav Ezhi Letz, it is their dream to have a market where they can buy themselves a master they like.

  3. Wal, this is the biggest of the paradoxes: after Soviet Union broke
    all those educated and well read citizens rushed to their TVs to
    listen to the mass healers and charge their face creams through the TV
    screen with the energy to cure all their diseases. They became open to
    the true history books, yet they elected a KGB head as their
    president. They can travel, they copy western shows, western holidays,
    western lingo, yet they loathe the west more then they did when The
    Party told them so. It blows my mind away. Its like the final scene
    from 1984(remember, when Smith became a true believer?) or some sort
    of mutated Godzilla-like Stockholm syndrome. All that education was
    rubbish. Slaves were not taught to think, they were taught to apply
    formulas at the command, like Pavlov dogs. And like true slaves,
    according to Stanislav Ezhi Letz, it is still their dream to have a market
    where they can buy themselves a master they like.

  4. I don’t see why this comes as any surprise when Putin’s post-graduate work was plagiarized from University of Pittsburgh professors.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_437473.html

  5. Jame,

    Lil’-Putin Akhmadovitch’s “higher education” is an even better story. His official website about it:

    http://www.chechnyafree.ru/en/article.php?IBLOCK_ID=354&SECTION_ID=591&ELEMENT_ID=51508

    And the following is a fragment from A Russia Diary: A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin’s Russia by Anna Politkovskaya (2004):

    What education has he had? “Higher education, law. I’m just finishing it. I am taking my exams.”

    What exams? “What do you mean, ‘What exams?’ The exams, that’s all.”

    What’s the institute called where he is studying? “It’s a branch of the Moscow Institute of Business. In Gudermes. It’s a law college.”

    What is he specialising in? “Law.” But what kind of law? Criminal? Civil? “I can’t remember. Someone wrote the topic down for me on a piece of paper, but I’ve forgotten. There’s a lot going on at the moment.”…

    • Robert! In Russia it’s called buy a diploma. Often this refers to Caucasians. But of course this don’t refer to all Caucasians.
      The difference of secondary schools of Russia from the other lies in the fact that Russia education system has given a very large volume of information. The same is true in higher education. This allows learners to quickly develop, especially in physics and mathematics field.

      By the way, how about our dispute about the sensational information about Russia by WikiLeaks? My suggestion is valid.

      • Ah yes, the ever popular Russian scapegoat, the Caucasians.

        Of course, the majority of corruption (including buying diploma’s) in Russia is committed by ethnic Russians, as is the majority of crime, and pretty much all of the neo-nazi killings….

        • Did you tell my ethnic Russian friend, to whom the Georgians stabbed with a knife in the chest, when my friend tried to protect his bag. It was this summer…

          • Link please new-sky, put your money where your mouth is.

            I would like you to explain to my friends why their houses were burnt down by Russians, why their orchards and vineyards were destroyed, their cattle and livestock killed.

            The overwhelming majority of crime in Russia is committed by ethnic Russians.

  6. Look at the Russia’s achievement in medicine – 100% success in Perm – 150 victims of fire at Lame Horse and 150 dead – that is the success russian style…

  7. Yes yes! I can remember your propaganda words. Better yet, tell me how Stalin wanted all Georgians deported from Georgia. Congratulations! Dude, you won your mind!

  8. The problem with Russians, including education (by the way I grew up in USSR) is that they believe everything someone once told them, somewhere, by someone as long as it is nationalistic, they believe it. Having superior education is one of those things.

    I won’t deny that math and science on the whole are more advanced in Russia, however, generally speaking Russian education is a total mess. Corruption is beyond rampant, accepted and never really reported.

    So again, the Russians based ‘we have great education’ on really nothing.

    It is similar to the often heard ‘Russian is the richest language’ or ‘richer than English’. What the f*ck is this based on? In fact, all you have to do is take a look at number of words in the English language vs. Russian of which there are almost triple more words. Yet, most Russians don’t get that just because there are many words in English language that are not used on daily basis, does not mean they don’t exist.

    • “What the f*ck is this based on?” – You showed great level of your education.

      For information: Baltic-Slavic languages are one of the oldest languages in Europe. Some are not only words but whole sentences in Sanskrit language is easy to understand knowing Baltic-Slavic languages. If you’re interested, then you can read about R1a.

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