Some Russian universities ignore rights of disabled students
In June 2018 a hotline was set up to assist people with disabilities applying for higher education.
The admissions departments of certain academic institutions appear to be unaware of current legislation regarding disability rights, according to Yekaterina Kurbangaleeva, who is a member of the Russian Public Chamber and Director of the Scientific Research Centre Special Opinion. There have been formal complaints of unfair discrimination in the admissions process from applicants with disabilities in Kazan, Novosibirsk, Altai and Moscow. Kurbangaleeva explained that the majority of the complaints are linked to a refusal by the admissions departments to accept photocopies of documents. They are wrongly insisting that applicants using the quota for special needs need to submit the original copies of their documentation. Under current legislation applicants with disabilities are entitled to apply to five separate institutions.
Complainants describe other breaches of the law by admissions departments. For example, the Moscow Institute of Architecture states in its conditions of admission that students applying under the special needs quota need to provide written medical evidence that they are fit to study at the Institute. Kurbangaleeva said that this requirement was removed over a year ago, in May 2017, the change was well publicised and all the relevant educational establishments were sent detailed information about it. She claims that this is not simply a bureaucratic oversight, with administrators forgetting to update their procedures; they never used to insist on seeing these medical documents before. This amounts to blatant discrimination.
Kurbangaleeva stressed the importance of improving the way the Public Chamber and educational establishments circulate information about changes in the law, not only during the admissions period but throughout the year. The Public Chamber hotline (+7 (800) 737-77-66) continues to receive complaints about the numerous ways in which disabled applicants face discrimination, not only in terms of their documentation but also in the way entrance exams are carried out and in the general failure to provide disabled applicants with the special support they are entitled to receive. Staff at the Ministry of Education and Science are involved in reviewing all communications concerning discrimination.