Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Schools Move Toward EU Standards

The State Duma on Friday passed in a crucial second reading a bill that would overhaul the higher education system to bring it more in line with Europe's.

The bill would replace the current degree system -- based on a five-year program -- with separate bachelor's and master's degrees that would take four and two years to complete, respectively.

Supporters say the bill will make it easier for graduates of Russian universities to get their degrees recognized in Europe and ultimately help integrate them into the international labor market.

"The Iron Curtain days have been left far behind," said Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Katrenko, a United Russia party member, Interfax reported.

Katrenko said the bill would bring Russian universities into line with the Bologna Process, the series of agreements that have sought to create standardized academic degrees throughout Europe.

Many Russian universities have stood outside the Bologna Process because they offer a five-year specialist degree, a holdover from the Soviet era.

Critics charge that the present system is not suited for the needs of today's economy and that its main purpose is to keep young men out of the army.

Under the two-stage system outlined by the bill, professional training will be concentrated in master's programs, and students who complete a bachelor's degree will need to compete for spots in master's programs if they want to continue their education.

Changes to the degree system will take effect Sept. 1, 2009, should the bill become law.

It was passed Friday 323-88 with one abstention, reported. The bill must now pass in a third reading in the Duma, be approved by the Federation Council and be signed into law by the president.