Monday, January 25, 2010

Pay to play at Russian universities

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on an anti-corruption campaign at Kazan State University: A Russian University Gets Creative Against Corruption (gated, unfortunately, but the excerpts below give you the idea).

"Too many students and professors have a "pay to play" mentality, reformers say, in which grades and test scores are bought and sold.
Anticorruption videos are shown daily. Students participate in classroom discussions about the problem. Kazan State's rector, Myakzyum Salakhov, has installed video cameras in every hallway and classroom, so that the security department can watch students and professors in every corner of the university to catch any bribes as they are made."
"Across Russia, bribery and influence-peddling are rife within academe. Critics cite a combination of factors: Poor salaries lead some professors to pocket bribes in order to make ends meet. Students and their families feel they must pay administrators to get into good universities, if only because everyone else seems to be doing it. And local government officials turn a blind eye, sometimes because they, too, are corrupt."
"Students and administrators alike say that bribery is rampant on the campus, and that it includes everyone from students to department chairs.
"Corruption is just a routine we have to deal with," says Alsu Bariyeva, a student activist and journalism major who joined the campaign after a professor in the physical-culture department suggested that she pay him to get credit for her work that semester. She paid.
Several students said they once saw a list of prices posted in the hallway of the law department. The cost of a good grade on various exams ranged from $50 to $200. Students from other departments report similar scenarios.
Many people on the campus identify the arrest last March of the head of the general-mathematics department as a turning point. Police, tipped off by students and parents, charged in and arrested Maryan Matveichuk, 61, as he was pocketing thousands of rubles from a student for a good mark on a summer exam.
The police investigation concluded that in at least six instances Mr. Matveichuk, a respected professor, had accepted bribes of 4,000 to 6,000 rubbles, or about $135 to $200, from students in other departments for good grades on their math exams and courses.
Last September a court in Kazan found the math professor guilty of accepting a total of 29,500 rubles, or $1,000, in bribes, issued a suspended sentence of three years in prison, and stripped him of his teaching credential.
Mr. Matveichuk's arrest inspired Mr. Salakhov, the rector, to form an anticorruption committee, including administrators and students."

No comments: