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Bribes in prestigious universities in the USA and Russia


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Bribes in prestigious universities in the USA and Russia


You probably remember the major scandal that hit the leading American universities in the spring of 2019: then a large corruption scheme was exposed, aimed at the opportunity to enter a prestigious university.

Many media American citizens have been accused of paying bribes to prominent universities (Yale, Stanford, UCLA) in order to secure a place there for their children. The amount of illegal financial investments ranged from 200 thousand to 6.5 million dollars. The prosecutor’s office called the exposed fraud a “national conspiracy,” and some experts saw in this situation an ulterior motive regarding the presidential elections, which took place a year later.

The issue of bribery has taken American universities by surprise. However, America is not the only country in the world with this problem.

Manifestation of Corruption and Fraud in the United States

Not only celebrities or public figures can be implicated in stories of bribes - the evidence suggests that ordinary local or foreign students can also face the fact of corruption.

In October last year, one of the users of the Picabu information platform shared material about the university where he studied: a speech about the prestigious top Ivy League university - Brown University. A Russian-speaking student talks about his student life in Boston, the history of the university and the fact of corruption that he managed to discover.

The young man writes that the university, as befits a top university, has a large campus consisting of 235 buildings of various functions (including 11 library buildings). By law, Brown University has to pay state tax for such a large number of objects, and quite large - according to the author's calculations, its amount reaches several million dollars. However, Brown University does not. Instead, the university has an agreement with the Boston authorities, according to which it pays for the work of the local police station, patrolling small student buses, plus the operation of several city services.

According to the author of the article, the city authorities failed to collect the usual tax from the university due to several factors:

  • Brown University is one of the oldest and most respected in the country
  • The university attracts students from more than 80 countries of the world to Rhode Island
  • Eight Nobel laureates and several dozen other laureates are associated with Brown.

Therefore, when the university, in response to the demand to pay the tax, threatened to change its location - to move to the territory of another state and deprive the city of its income, the authorities had no choice but to make a "compromise".

When this story happened, it caused great unrest throughout the region. Investigations were even carried out, but no direct evidence of a violation of the law was found, so the case was gradually curtailed.

However, US universities have another problem: the policy of "affirmative action". Officially, this is a fight against discrimination against minorities, which primarily include the people of America themselves. However, after a while, one of the manifestations of "positive discrimination" was the creation of racial quotas associated with any social cases: hiring, going to college, and so on.

It is especially evident in the admissions offices of American universities: to implement the affirmative action policy, an impressive set of rules was created for assessing each applicant. This resulted in different admission conditions for whites, Hispanics, African Americans, or Indian descendents. The latter 2 categories have made it much easier to get into universities, including elite high schools. In prestigious universities, there are especially few representatives of different national groups, so they began to underestimate the conditions for admission as much as possible in order to expand the ethnic diversity among students.

Such a condition of admission gives room for various kinds of fraud, reaching the point of absurdity. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is known for a similar story: she was able to get into the University of Houston, convincing everyone that there are Indians among her relatives (supposedly her grandparents literally came from Indian tribes). She then received her professorship at Harvard also under the "Indian quota". Many years later, by coincidence, Warren did a DNA test - it turned out that she was no more Indian than any other average American.

The issue of discrimination is now very relevant to the United States. Of all the applicants, the Asians were the hardest hit for the white candidates. The representatives of Asian peoples (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese) have strict discipline, so students study diligently in schools or institutes, achieving academic success. Therefore, one day universities from the Ivy League "got fed up" with so many students from the listed ethnic groups, taking measures:

  • The admission threshold for Asian applicants was extremely high
  • Extracurricular achievements of candidates, which are indicated upon admission (for example, playing ping-pong), etc., began to be perceived negatively.

This policy led to the fact that in 2014 a group of applicants from Asian countries filed the first lawsuit against Ivy League universities for racial discrimination. However, according to the law, private American colleges or universities have the right to set any conditions for the admission of students.

The applicants demanded recognition of the fact of discrimination against Asians on behalf of universities, violation of civil rights, plus the abolition of existing policies. Then the Obama administration did not support the problem in any way, and after taking over as the new head of state (Donald Trump), the Department of Justice was entrusted with checking universities - the fact of discrimination against Asian students was officially confirmed.

These are just a couple of examples of fraud and corruption that are taking place on the territory of American universities. We have not yet touched on politicization and ideologization, the fight against the patriarchal system, capitalism or "white privilege" in detail, because in this article experts still focus on corruption.

Manifestation of corruption and fraud on the territory of the Russian Federation

The situation with fraud or corruption is somewhat different in Russia. This does not mean that the issue is less relevant than in America - it is just that people often record the facts of financial bribes.

According to research data, the majority of students are aware of corruption in Russian universities; senior students have more information than freshmen. The reason for this is the demand for "services" by the end of the education, and first-year students are still afraid of the consequences. In fact, there are no particular consequences - the scheme is considered working.

The manifestation of corrupt actions can be presented not only in monetary terms - there is also a “non-monetized” format: open cheating on an exam, downloading other people's work from the network to write your diploma or buying a completely finished certification work (diploma or master's thesis).

As researcher Denisova-Schmidt writes in her article on corruption, Russian students themselves perceive the facts of their corrupt behavior in different ways: some justify this by the fact that they are busy with work, so they do not have time to study disciplines not related to their specialty. Others are neutral, not seeing any kind of crime in cheating or using other people's work. There are those who are convinced that corruption is widespread, so it is not necessary to follow the rules. This situation is typical not only for Russian universities, but also for universities in many other countries of the world.

According to the expert, the increase in demand for higher education, as a result, its availability, contributed to the spread of corruption. 80% of young people aged 18 to 21 submit documents to universities, but not all of them are ready to successfully withstand the academic load, therefore, in order not to fly out of the university, they use alternative methods of "negotiating".

According to the research results, Denisova-Schmidt also identified specialties in which the most students with low academic performance are:

  • Marine engineering
  • Metallurgy
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture or fisheries.

And now we are already receiving a scheme in which it is unprofitable to expel such students to the university, since they can contribute (usually financially) to the development of the university. Plus, a large percentage of dropping out is fraught with a decrease in the state budget for the university, which, logically, will be followed by a reduction in the teaching staff, which means the loss of jobs.

Also, many Russian students saw the relationship between higher education and the fact that young people are not drafted into the army while they receive higher education - which again attracts not academically strong candidates, but literally everyone in a row. The current situation on the labor market shows that even a skilled worker with experience in managing a department can hardly become a boss without a crust on higher education.

As a result: the education system in Russia has long been not a place for receiving high-quality educational services, but a large business project where finances are spinning.

Types of corruption violations and measures to prevent them

One of the measures to suppress corruption on the territory of Russia - at least at the stage between secondary and higher education - was to be the introduction of the Unified State Exam. But this measure did not pay off.

However, not only the USE stage is subject to corrupt practices - other areas involved in the preparation or obtaining of higher education also fall under monetary fraud:

  • Tutoring activities. Carrying out activities of this nature against official provisions on the implementation procedure, providing false or valid means of enrollment that are contrary to established standards
  • Entry exams. Enrollment of students according to criteria (scores or other indicators) that do not correspond to the official ones - we will include the USE here
  • Receiving various privileges and benefits out of competition (for example, a place in a hostel, scholarships, trips, competitions or internships, etc.)
  • Passing exams and tests. Extortion of financial contributions from the teaching staff (in other words, bribes), abuse of office or information
  • Appointment of scholarships / grants. Issuance or receipt of funds based on documents that are not paramount, consideration of other criteria for fraud
  • Filling out the sheets. Issuance of incorrect statements to students, falsification of documents
  • Organization and implementation of state or certification events. Implementation of passing the exam in a format that contradicts the internal rules of higher education institutions
  • Conducting entrance examinations for a master's or postgraduate studies. Enrollment based on criteria that do not meet the required requirements or competition points.

As the studies show, in order to effectively counteract such a phenomenon as corruption in higher education, it is necessary to take measures simultaneously at different levels: legislative and socio-economic.

Here's what a list of such measures might look like, based on various factors:

  1. Strengthening measures to criminalize corruption behavior of any scale (from minor to critical)
  2. Actual salary increase for teachers to create conditions for teachers and university professors under which they will no longer have to look for income outside their main activity
  3. The introduction of a hotline for notification of the fact of committing corruption offenses is anonymous for security. You can make a form for this on the official websites of schools or universities. Incoming messages must be recorded, and then check educational institutions
  4. Development and implementation of a system of measures to overcome corruption in educational institutions.

For example:

  • Development of student self-government and active citizenship among students.

Most students are simply afraid to report the fact of bribes, which unwittingly covers offenders, contributing to the spread of the phenomenon. Building an open citizenship will help students be less tolerant and take steps to suppress.

  • Develop basic anti-corruption steps at the level of the Code of Conduct

In this case, the administration of the university or other institution will be able to influence violators and take administrative or disciplinary measures.

  • Develop a public control mechanism

Monitoring the current situation on the part of parents, public organizations, educational control bodies will allow time to track the violation and prevent it.

Solving the problem of corruption in the field of education is an important strategic task for Russia and other countries of the world, since it will become one of the sections of solving a broader problem - the quality of education and its accessibility.

It's time to take action if we want our children to receive quality education in an open, honest environment!

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