Higher education in Soviet and Russian welfare states: hybridization, continuity and change
This research explores the interrelations of higher education and welfare state models in the USSR of the 1960-1980s and Russia of the 2000-2020s. We first address the extent to which the provision of higher education aligns with the key imperatives of welfare redistribution: eligibility, state-market balance, and equality. Second, we schematize the values – instrumental, positional, intrinsic – of higher education that influenced well-being in the Soviet Union and Russia. We argue that the provision of higher education in these two state regimes complies with the political economy of two welfare models, suggesting a continuity across socialist and corporatist traditions. In the USSR, higher education was a part of a hybrid comprehensive-corporatist welfare model. Formally a universal right, it can be conceptualized as a state asset and a privilege attached to the class, entailing high intrinsic value. Higher education provision in Russia aligns with the conservative pattern while preserving traits of the socialist past and liberal transition. State commitment in the provision of public higher education and moderate marketization frame the hybrid nature of higher education as a social right and commodity with high instrumental and positional values.