25 Years of Transformations of Higher Education Systems in Post-Soviet Countries. Reform and Continuity
The book is a result of the first ever study of the transformations of the higher education institutional landscape in fifteen former USSR countries after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It explores how the single Soviet model that developed across the vast and diverse territory of the Soviet Union over several decades has evolved into fifteen unique national systems, systems that have responded to national and global developments while still bearing some traces of the past. The book is distinctive as it presents a comprehensive analysis of the reforms and transformations in the region in the last 25 years; and it focuses on institutional landscape through the evolution of the institutional types established and developed in Pre-Soviet, Soviet and Post-Soviet time. It also embraces all fifteen countries of the former USSR, and provides a comparative analysis of transformations of institutional landscape across Post-Soviet systems. It will be highly relevant for students and researchers in the fields of higher education and and sociology, particularly those with an interest in historical and comparative studies.
The Republic of Moldova has a long history of shifting borders, and a short history as an independent state. Higher education only expanded during the Soviet era, which saw 9 public higher education institutions come into existence between 1926 and 1988. On the one hand, ample state funding for higher education allowed an unprecedented growth in access to higher education, a well-developed technical and material base, and internationally comparable educational standards. On the other hand, high level of centralization of the Soviet educational system made it static and unable to adequately respond to the changing needs of a dynamic labor market. Strict educational centralization led to bureaucratization of management, authoritarianism, excessive uniformity, lack of understanding of local conditions, stifling of ‘bottom-up’ initiative, and lack of academic mobility. At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, participation in higher education was still the third lowest among all Soviet republics.
We hope that this study will make one more step in the gradual movement towards opening up opportunities for research on the post-Soviet space built on transparent data and keen academic interest. The demand for a thorough grasp of post-Soviet higher education transformations in each former Soviet Republic seemed natural at the start. Basically, we assumed that national higher education systems reflect changes in societies and the economic and political environment. The institutional landscape of higher education, the structure of the system and the set of ‘rules of the game’ can tell us a great deal about the society in which they are rooted.
This Appendix consists of the statistical data that is considered to be the most important for the study of Soviet and Post-Soviet higher education. Here we talk about general trends and aggregate numbers that provide a broad view on higher education changes. The Appendix contains three parts. The first part includes data on higher education in Russian empire (until 1917). Second part covers Soviet period (1917–1991): statistics on higher education institutions (HEIs), numbers of students by field of education, forms of studies and across the USSR Republics as well as age cohort participation in the Republics. The third part consists of post-Soviet changes of HEIs in state and non-state sector, student body, privatisation of costs (fee-paying students) and participation in higher education. The Appendix includes not only tables but also brief comments on data sources, major points that should be considered for data analysis and descriptions of key facts.
The first chapter outlines the conceptual approach and research design of the project. It introduces the Soviet model of higher education highlighting its main characteristics as departing points for the comparative study. Further the chapter provides an overview of higher education reforms and broader social transformations across 15 countries since the independence period including marketization of higher education, admission reforms, internationalisation, joining Bologna, demographic trends and others. It concludes with the key changes of the higher education landscape and its drivers emphasizing the role of government in those transformations.
The objective of this chapter is to present the common legacy basis for the chapters devoted to specific post-Soviet countries.