By Andrey Osipov
Corridor of opportunities
According to the Head of the Department of Higher and Specialised Secondary Education at the Ministry of Education, Sergei Romanyuk, the Government has decided to raise tuition fees at Higher Education Institutions by no more than 20 percent. Fees will vary depending on the form of education and course specialisation.
Mr. Romanyuk notes that, in 2012/2013, tuition fees remained steady, although first rank wages tripled.
At the beginning of the last academic year, the number of students at higher education institutions reached over 337,000, while those in private institutions numbered more than 51,000. About 35 percent were state-funded.
Marat Zhilinsky, the Deputy Chair of the Permanent Commission for Education, Culture and Science, of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus, tells us, “The Ministry of Education is keen not to raise tuition fees at educational institutions this academic year.” No unpleasant surprises should be forthcoming on September 1st.
Last year, the State Belarusian University, which leads countrywide, was charging from Br12,000,000 to Br14,900,000 for annual full-time fees in such courses as economics, foreign affairs and jurisprudence.
Fees at the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radio-electronics are yet to be finalised but varied from Br10,400,000 to Br14,700,000 last year. As a rule, the first year is the most expensive. Full-time fees at the Belarusian State Economic University vary from Br6,500,000 to Br15,200,000 this year (according to its official website).
Regional higher institutions are hardly cheaper, with Gomel State Medical University wishing to charge Br13,260,000 (up from 11,000,000 last year). The Ministry of Education is yet to give its permission however.
Veronika Gorskaya, who heads the Contract Department at Polotsk State University, tells us that its fees are to rise by 20 percent, with those for humanitarian, financial, economic and some technical specialities reaching Br10,740,000 (up from Br8,950,000 last year).
Despite rising fees at our universities, they remain far more reasonable than those abroad: one year at Moscow’s State University of Foreign Affairs cost $5,000 in 2000, having risen to $12,000 this year. Meanwhile, Harvard charges $15,000 annually. The last time Belarusian institutions raised their fees was a year ago, by 29 percent.
As to whether the fees paid by our students cover the expenses incurred by universities, the rector of the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics, Mikhail Batura, tells us, “Figures vary greatly depending on branches of learning but average fee-paying students cover just 60 to 80 percent of costs. Of course, prices for utilities and electricity have increased over the past year while specialist staff have had their salaries tripled, so costs have risen significantly. Our September 1st fee-hikes reflect the need to cover expenses in today’s world.”