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December 1, 1999

Life in Rostov

PART II Higher Education

by Julia Urakcheeva

There are both state-ruled, free-of-charge, and commercial, private universities in Russia. In commercial ones students pay at least $1,500 for a year. Still, the majority of the educational institutions keep to the Soviet tradition of free education. However, there is nothing really free even in state-run universities. You can't avoid expenses if you intend to enter one of the prestigious institutions. In any case, you'll pay for the tutor consultations before exams.

As for profile, it was always considered prestigious to study in such specialities as law, economics, finances, banking, consumer affairs, medicine and foreign languages.

The university in Moscow is the best (one of the reasons being wide choice of vacancies there), but the Universities in Saint-Petersburg, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don are also famous and have long-established reputations.

Five or six years spent in a university is the educational background many Russians possess. That way, at 21 or 22 year(s) old, we "face the real world" -- and in many cases we also face unemployment.

In Soviet Union, we had a system of “distribution.” It meant every graduate was directed to work. Of course, you could be sent to work far from your native town -- somewhere in far-away and cold Irkutsk, if a vacancy was there. But still it was guaranteed work.

Now this system doesn't exist. Everybody has to look for a job by himself. It isn't easy, because the majority of employers want experienced specialists. The professions connected with economics and business - managers and administrators -- are most wanted. Some people with mathematic or biologist educations have to work as retailers, for example.

So, perhaps the most desirable quality every graduate should possess is the ability “to promote yourself” combined with sociable and out-going character. If you have this -- you'll be lucky.

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