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Russian Universities to Delay Semester Exams, Move Enrollment Online

March 25, 2020

Russia's Minister for Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov has called on universities to postpone spring semester exams to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He also announced that final-year assessments might be partially moved online in 2020.

The Ministry for Science and Higher Education is currently looking at ways to conduct such assessments. One difficulty is that a number of pre-diploma internships, which are seen as an essential part of graduate training, cannot be completed online. At the moment, the ministry is 'playing it by ear' as it seeks to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether an online-only format would be appropriate for an assessment or whether, with all due precautions, educators had best combine the online and the offline.

Earlier, the Ministry for Science and Higher Education has urged Russian universities to switch to distance learning from March 16, a recommendation that, according to Valery Falkov, some 80% of the institutions have complied with. Project 5-100 universities are among this number.

Meanwhile, at the ministry's request, the Association of Global Universities, which brings together Project 5-100 institutions to coordinate their offline activities and web interaction, has set up a contact center to assist Russian universities in transitioning to distance learning.

Enrollment for the next academic year will also be conducted online. The Ministry for Science and Higher Education is designing a remote enrollment facility which it intends to make available to registered users on Russia's Gosuslugi public services portal. The new service will help school-leavers to select a field of study, compare university offerings, learn what Unified State Exam grades would qualify them for admission, and submit an online application. Always remotely, they will be able to take entrance exams administered by some colleges and check out admissions lists.

Valery Falkov pointed out that the vast majority of universities and would-be students felt comfortable with remote enrollment, though it might cause problems for those institutions that ran their own entrance examinations. Draft proposals should be ready by the end of next week for the ministry to discuss and, if needed, translate into regulations.

Valery Falkov added that international student enrollment issues would be dealt with separately.