Policy Papers Russie.NEI.Visions

Higher Education in Russia: How to Overcome the Soviet Heritage? "Russie.Nei.Visions", No. 29, April 2008


Russia's higher education (HE) reform, begun 15 years ago, was intended to provide a response to the challenges of the new post-industrial, high-tech economic development model. During the course of the reform, many of the negative features inherited from the Soviet period (ideologization, complete state-ownership of assets, excessive centralization of decision-making) were overcome. However, many characteristics of the Soviet system have turned out to be highly resilient, right up to today: the separation of science and education, the socio-humanitarian science sector remaining behind the natural and technical sciences, and the gap between the "elitist" and the "mass" segments. In the initial stages, the problems of reform were forced into the background, behind the much more acute problem of survival. The real window of opportunity did not appear until the start of Vladimir Putin's second term as president, when favorable economic (potential to increase budget financing) and political (consolidation of the team of reformers) conditions were created.

This paper is based on the seminar presentation "Higher Education in Russia, Potential and Challenges," which took place on 28 January 2008 at the Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri).


Higher Education in Russia: How to Overcome the Soviet Heritage?