Massification, marketization, vocationalization, and stratification in Russian higher education
In Russian higher education, a mix of ideas and reforms implanted into the specific national context and culture has generated a distinctive system. Although inspired by European university model, from the very beginning the system was maintained with an orientation to the state’s needs, comprehensive governmental control and a bias towards teaching rather than research. Later, Soviet policy reinforced state utilitarianism, but importantly managed to achieve the mass expansion of higher education. This chapter provides a sociological analysis of the Russian system of higher education focusing on four social processes: massification, marketisation, vocationalization, and stratification in higher education. A unique interplay of global patterns and national context result in high participation rates in higher education at the backdrop of demographic decline, a distinctive form of incomplete marketisation of higher education which divides the sector at intra-institutional level, and increasing stratification supported by governmental policy. Vocationalization established in the Soviet period as a basic rationale for higher education has been reinforced by neoliberal policies over last three decades and constitutes a continuity between two historical epochs.