“You didn’t mention the main thing: what worries the state today,” the President responded to the Education Minister’s report. “I’m informed that the most advanced, top specialists are leaving the country. Moreover, we have some kind of system: they graduate from universities, don’t work and leave. We teach and prepare specialists for ourselves in colleges and universities.”
Andrei Ivanets noted that all state-funded students after graduation are required to work a particular period of time at the assigned job. “The Education Ministry is monitoring this work. There are isolated cases when graduates reimburse the funds spent by the state on their preparation,” he said.
At the same time, the Minister underlined and made a proposal, “Today, in our opinion, those who studied both on a free and paid basis, should work a particular period at the assigned job.”
“What do you think, after graduation from a university, where, how and how long should they work? And if they leave after graduation, how much should they pay?” asked Aleksandr Lukashenko.
As the Minister reported, students who receive full-time education financed by the state have to spend two years at the assigned job after graduation. For employer-sponsored students this period is at least five years, but the contract may envisage a longer period. As far as the cost of training is concerned, it costs the state a considerable amount. For example, if a BSU graduate refuses from mandatory work placement, they will compensate for the amount spent on the preparation, which is about Br40-45 thousand, said Andrei Ivanets.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the problem needs to be solved radically, including thinking about increasing the working period of mandatory job placement, “What is two years? Just think: we train them at universities and through mentoring and gained experience we train them for two more years during their first job, e.g., at school, if it’s a teacher.”
The President noted that prohibitive measures are needed in this regard, even if such a step would be unpopular. “At least semi-prohibitive measures are needed: let’s say 5 years. That’s right, it should be at least 5 years for employer-sponsored students, or maybe we should even orientate somewhere carefully until the period of 7 years. Otherwise, don’t apply for employer-sponsored education,” he said.
Another aspect is the cost of paid education in Belarus, especially in comparison with Western countries. Even with an average lower cost, the state still actually subsidises the preparation of students on a paid basis. “Today, such students reimburse no more than 50-70 percent of the cost of their training. In fact, there is no paid higher education in the republic; it is semi-paid education, which is subsidised either by the university or the state. We see this problem, and we need to solve it. This has already begun,” said Andrei Ivanets.
Summing up the meeting, the President once again returned to this topic. “We have decided regarding mandatory work placement. We are increasing these working periods (the population needs to be carefully informed about this now). We train specialists for ourselves. We have prepared and are giving you your first job – so, go and work. This is where you need to go, we are sending you there. I also went through obligatory work placement, and so did many of those sitting here, and nothing happened,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko.