The prospect of counterreform
The general course taken by Russia to disintegrate with the EU was bound to affect the educational system as well, as the latter can’t move in the opposite direction from other, isolationist and backward processes taking place in society and the state. However, officials are convincing the country and themselves that this will be a step forward accompanied by an intensification in the trends of personalization and individualization of education.
Thus, MGIMO, a bastion of state conservatism, which has trained the country's diplomatic corps since Soviet times, has already announced that it will abolish the Bologna system and introduce its own system of individual trajectories for students, with only nine mandatory and fixed disciplines and the rest being electives selected from an offered list. At the same time, it’s clear that the most important thing with this approach is that students don’t have the ability to substitute these disciplines for those taught at partner universities in other countries. However, following the Russian Union of Rectors meeting on June 2, plans were revealed to develop student exchanges with universities of so-called “friendly countries,” i.e. those that didn’t make the list of “unfriendly” countries specified in a special Putin decree (including more than 40 countries and territories).
A number of other Russian universities announced that they would continue to move toward a mixed system in which some specializations would be offered as part of a single-cycle five-year course of study (based on local practices, which was the case before as well), while others would be more flexible, with the transition from the 4+2 model to the three-cycle 2+2+2 model. (The three-cycle model entails that the bachelor's degree is divided into two parts, a propaedeutic basic one and a more specialized second one, from which it will then be possible to move on to a highly specialized master's program or to take a leave from one’s studies after two or four years to gain practical, professional experience.)
Restrictions are intended only for those wishing to enroll in a master's program from a different bachelor's degree – for example, from journalism to physics – but it is yet unclear whether the reverse (from physics to journalism) is possible, which would be a rather logical step for an aspiring science journalist or a science writer. In addition, the process itself will take many years: according to Federation Council Education Committee Chair Lilia Gumerova, at least a year is needed to rewrite the Law on Education (adopted in 2012, it has since been torpedoed by advocates of the Soviet educational system and has increasingly come into conflict with the conservative turn in Russian education), after which the list of specializations will need to be updated and new programs developed.