Human capital: Belarus’ Higher Education in Cross-Country Run

This research paper is a part of BISS’ signature research project “Human capital in Belarus: the sources of competitiveness and modernization”.

Its goal is to evaluate the quality of the Belarusian system of higher education in a comparative perspective, and, therefore, to estimate the quality of human capital “produced” by the national education system.

The main conclusions of the paper are as follows:

1. The educational policy of Belarus is not balanced and the “coverage” of higher education is achieved by sacrificing the quality.

2. There are similar trends to those observed in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

· Increasing  number of people with tertiary education.

· Accelerated growth in the share of persons with the educational level 5A (theoretical) and stabilization or reduction of the proportion of people with the level 5V (practical).

· The feminization of tertiary education.

· A similar distribution of learning profiles for university students.

· Deficit of those students getting engineering education.

3. However, the following mark the underlying differences with the OECD countries:

· Presence of major rudiments of the industrial age’s (a la Soviet) education in Belarus.

· The undeveloped second cycle of higher education (e.g., master's degree) with automatic reduction of the traditional long cycle training to the undergraduate level (first cycle).

-Insufficient development of the programs of the third cycle (postgraduate, doctorate) in terms of number of students and the quality of the study plan.

· Lack of access to higher education programs for older people and vulnerable groups.

· Mismatch of major trends in the financing of higher education. In contrast to the growth in funding of education and higher education, particularly in the developed countries, in Belarus there is a decrease of the GDP proportion that goes to support the education industry as a whole, and to education level of 5V in general. The mass availability of tertiary education did not lead the Belarusian higher education either to restructuring the educational architecture and technologies, or to the real multi-channel financing, based on equal social partnership.

· Financial spending per student in Belarus lags behind OECD’s average and is one of the reasons weakening Belarusian educational efforts.

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