Universal entrance exam allows more students with special needs to go to university
The single universal state university entrance exam has made it possible for more students with special needs to embark on higher education, according to Aleksander Kapustnyak, head of department in the inspectorate of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, at a seminar on the outcome of the state assessment of children leaving special and correctional schools. In 2008-9 there were 18,600 students with special needs in higher educational institutions, but by 2009-10 this number had risen to 26,100 young people. However, many of the students abandon the course after the first session because they are insufficiently well-prepared in school for their studies. He said that in most cases the children don’t take the 9th year exams, because they have no experience of exams. At the seminar, education experts from 36 regions of Russia considered what legal obstacles lay in the way of children with special needs when taking the single entrance exam. An adviser at the Ministry of Education, Andrei Isakov, said that such children have the right to take either the single entrance exam or the traditional exams. There are some technical challenges for them when taking the exams (for example students with visual impairment need papers in large fonts, but the rule is that exams must be submitted in normal fonts). A further problem is that thus far not all subjects can be taken in the single entrance exam format. This was explained by Mariya Yakovleva, from the regional centre for school inspection and IT. She considered that in St Petersburg, the experience of school leaving exams taken by students with special needs showed that in cases of disputes, as a rule the decision went in the students’ favour.