To the Russian Ministry of Education and Science: RGGU is not “an inefficient university”
Petition by Rossen Djagalov, Philadelphia, PA
This petition expresses the solidarity of international students and scholars with their peers at the Russian State University of the Humanities (RGGU). This university is one of Russia’s leading institutions of higher education and has no place on the Ministry’s list of “inefficient universities,” which are now in danger of closure, mergers or external reorganization: http://lenta.ru/articles/2012/11/02/minobr. In particular, this petition challenges the university’s appearance on this list by addressing one of the (highly problematic) criteria by which that list was produced: the degree of the institution’s internationalization.
To the Russian Ministry of Education
As international students and scholars who have studied and taught in and otherwise enjoyed the hospitality of the Russian State University of the Humanities (RGGU), or only know it by reputation, we would respectfully like to dispute the university’s appearance on the list of “inefficient institutions of higher education” published recently by the Russian Ministry of Education. Even leaving aside the questions of the criteria by which this list was drawn and its consequences for Russian higher education, we would like to testify this classification is thoroughly at odds with the reputation RGGU enjoys abroad.
In fact, its reputation as arguably the best place for the study of the humanities in Russia has over the last twenty years drawn many of us to its campus as visiting lecturers, conference participants, PhD researchers, or simply learners in the university’s numerous programs for international students. RGGU’s illustrious faculty—its main asset—has continually attracted not only some of the best Russian college-age students but has also made its campus one of the most important stops on the itinerary of international academics visiting Russia. It is not an accident that a number of the world’s best universities such as the Sorbonne and Paris-VIII in France; Tokyo University and the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in Japan; Humboldt, Freiburg and Konstanz in Germany; Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley in the United States have chosen precisely RGGU as their Russian partner in student exchanges and joint degree programs.
We do not mean to say that RGGU is perfect. As any institution of higher learning, it has its fill of shortcomings, but the root cause behind them as we well understand is the insufficient level of state financing of Russian higher education and of faculty inclusion in decisions that concern their own rights and the workings of the university. Whatever its problems, however, RGGU remains one of Russian’s leading universities and has no place on any list of “inefficient universities,” which are now threatened with closure, mergers, or reorganization. Moreover, we believe that whatever improvements need to be made, are best trusted to RGGU’s own faculty, who have made it such a university.
[Your name, university]
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