Uzbekistan: Tuition fees to become more expensive
The news will be officially released closer to the end of the summer vacation, according to officials. The government decided to provide free tuition to coincide with 2008 being the Year of Youth in Uzbekistan. Critics of the government believe this announcement to be a public relations event being used to allay the negative effect of expected increases in tuition fees.
The total student population in Uzbekistan’s 60 colleges and universities exceeds 280,000. Student tuition fees now account for nearly 70% of total education revenues, and tuition fees are scheduled to increase by 50%, on average, in the 2009/10 academic year.
College and university tuition fees averaged 800,000 sums, or just over $600, in 2007/8. This figure is expected to rise to 1.2 million sums, or nearly $900, when the tuition rise goes into effect.
Also, it is known that prior to summer vacation students were pressured to sign a fee acceptance vouchers, accepting the increased tuition costs.
In practical terms, this means the state is going to lose nothing from the tuition fee-free year for new students.
According to the official web site of the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education, quotas for 2008/9 academic year stipulate 58,000 vacancies for bachelors degree candidates, and about 40,000 of them will have to pay for the tuition. The alleged "losses" of the state will therefore amount to 48 billion sums (more than $35 million) while revenues are expected to equal at least 192 billion sums, or more than $140 million, from new tuition fees.
It is only fair to add, meanwhile, that tuition fees in Uzbekistan are well below those in Russia. The minimum annual tuition fee at the Lomonosov Moscow State University is $6,000. On the other hand, difference in living standards in Russia and Uzbekistan offset some of these differences.