Disabled students to get better access to universities in Russia
The Russian Government is supporting a Bill being drafted for discussion by the State Duma which will enable disabled people to apply to a maximum of five further education institutions and not one as is currently the case. A statement posted on the Cabinet Minister’s official website on 9 February said that entry to higher education institutions will be determined by a quota system for Bachelor’s and specialist degree courses.
According to the draft federal law no. 223104-7 on “Amending Part 3 of Article 71 of the federal law on Education in the Russian Federation” applicants will have the right to apply to a maximum of five further education institutions. A disabled person will be able to apply for no more than three specialisms and (or) three different subject areas in each further education institution.
“This Bill seeks to rehabilitate disabled children, Group I and II disabled people, those who have been disabled since childhood and those who have become ill or disabled during active military service and to enable them to exercise their right to enter university without taking an exam to study a Bachelor’s or specialist degree course, with fixed quotas funded by the State, from constituent entity budgets of the Russian Federation and local Government budgets, subject to the successful passing of admission tests when applying to a number of higher education institutions (a maximum of five). The Bill does away with the law’s discriminatory clause that restricts the freedom of a disabled person to exercise his or her special right to enrol in higher education institutions for a Bachelor’s or specialist degree course”, says the Bill’s Explanatory Note.
At the same time, the right to admission without taking an exam under the quota system, unlike the right of entry without taking entrance tests, does not guarantee that a disabled applicant who has successfully passed an entrance exam will be enrolled. Students will be selected through direct competition where the numbers of disabled applicants exceed the quota. Individual universities will be able to organise additional entrance exams for specialist or creative degree courses.
“The ability of disabled applicants to apply for a number of specialist degree courses through direct competition to higher education institutions as proposed by the Bill will increase their chances of gaining free access to higher education”, says the official Russian Government website.
A lot of public Russian organisations are working hard to break down barriers faced by disabled people in accessing higher education. For example, the NGO Perspektiva has long been concerned about this issue (see their literature on this) A coalition called “Education for all” has been formed which involves the participation of Russian regional NGOs.