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Russia simplifies the recognition of foreign academic qualifications, diplomas and degrees

On 5 December 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into federal law amendments to national legislation on the recognition of academic qualifications, diplomas and degrees. The new law, adopted by the Russian Parliament in November, sets forth special provisions for two groups of academic qualifications and degrees – those covered by international agreements (e.g. on mutual qualifications recognition) and those issued by foreign universities that are included in a list to be approved by the Russian government. These two categories of foreign academic documents will be automatically recognised by the Russian Federation and will not require validation. The law will come into force on 1 February 2012.

The Russian government’s decision to unilaterally recognise degrees of “leading foreign universities” aims at cutting red tape and facilitating access for highly-qualified foreign specialists, among them lecturers and researchers, to work or study in the country. In practical terms, for example, foreign researchers who are invited and funded by the Russian government (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2011) and whose academic qualifications (PhD degrees) are recognised under the new law, will be entitled to engage in full-fledged academic activities in the Russian country (e.g. acting as tutors for graduate students). Earlier this year, legislative changes gave foreign researchers the legal right to teach at Russian universities without special permission (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, April 2011). The newest reform is also intended to attract more students to take part in Russian MA and PhD programmes. Finally, it may also have an impact on Russian students’ decisions about where exactly to study abroad.

Much is at stake, but the devil is, as usual, in the details. In the Russian case, it is all about implementation. Under the new law, the Ministry of Education and Science has to come up with the list of universities worldwide whose documents will be automatically recognised in Russia. However, the criteria for selecting these institutions remain unclear for the moment. Reportedly, a university’s presence in the top 300 institutions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the World University Rankings, its location in a G8 country, as well as its (at least partial) reliance on public funding, will be decisive. According to local estimations, around 300 universities could meet these requirements; this still excludes, however, many other dynamic research and study destinations around the world.

Kremlin Ministry of Education and Science (in Russian) RT