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2016 university admission campaign in Belarus: Major innovations you should know

It’s not only in England where people are worried about exams. Parents and children in Belarus who want to obtain a higher education are feeling worried as well. This topic disturbs people's minds every spring; it’s common for Belarusians to do everything possible so that their children obtain a higher education. Some irony can be seen in all of this. But on the other hand, Belarusians are truly a highly-educated nation. When high-tech development is in focus, then success is sure to come. But before entering a university, applicants have to go through testing.

This school leaver, Katya, was one of the first to toe the starting line of a marathon called entrance campaign 2016. The main bulk of Belarusian State University looks like mount Everest next to this girl. And she’s going to reach the top of the mountain. She’s only 17 but already knows what profession she wants to take up and where to study.

Ekaterina Podymako, student of school No.148 in Minsk:
It’s my university. It’s a family tradition. My grandparents and my aunt graduated from this university. That’s why I want to study here.

There are, however, some enrollees who are still uncertain about their future occupation. There is not much time left. School-leavers have to apply for the centralized testing before 1 June, 2016 at one of the registration points. All in all, there are 41 of them. All the necessary information (time limits, terms and special aspects) can be found on the website of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus in the section for applicants.

While school leavers are registering for the centralized testing, tests in 15 subjects are being drawn up in this bright building that reminds combs. But it’s impossible to find out the tasks of these tests.

Natalya Vaytekhovich, first deputy of the Republican Institute for Knowledge Control:
Applicants are going to take the Belarusian language test on the 13 June 2016. It means that variants of these tests will appear on the day before the 13th of June. Today, these tests don’t even exist.

Online broadcasts show how school leavers are applying for the testing and how information is being updated in the main office. About fifty new names and surnames appear on the screens every five minutes. But the Republican Institute for Knowledge Control needs to know how many tests to prepare for the applicants. It will be known on the 1st of June.

Natalya Vaytekhovich, first deputy of the Republican Institute for Knowledge Control:
Applicants should be aware that knowledge from school is vital for passing the testing successfully.

Ekaterina Matskevich, student of school 2 in Borovlyany:
I study information from school books and a lot of material is given from additional sources.

Ekaterina Matskevich began to test herself at the training version of the centralized testing. She wants to become an advertising manager, though her dream was to become a lawyer. But she decided to hang on for a bit. She might choose jurisprudence as her second higher education.

With the start of the crunch time for applicants and their parents, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko received at the Palace of Independence a special state commission for control and preparation of admission tests to universities and colleges.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus:
It’s a very important step for Belarusians and for the future of the country. There is no country if there are no specialists. Small amendments will be made during this entrance campaign. Surely, the needs of Belarus in economy, the social sphere and other spheres like public health service, education itself, agriculture, and industry are the most important things. Belarus will always look at these needs, based on the number and quality of applicants.

Alexander Lukashenko approved of some innovations of the admission campaign.

It’s necessary to stress that these innovations will touch upon applicants in 2017. Applicants to universities will be able to take tests in four subjects, but only three tests will be accepted by the enrolment board; college applicants will have an opportunity to sit three tests and submit the results of the two of them; test certificates will be valid for two years; the number of centralized test reserve days will be increased to three; easier enrolment conditions for popular economy professions will be affirmed.

Mikhail Zhuravkov, the Minister of Education of the Republic of Belarus:
The list of professions in which staff is in very short supply will be verified every year. It can be said that now it’s light industry, some professions connected with engineering, metallurgy and agriculture.

How to attract the young generation to unpopular professions? For instance, 2,500 state-funded places in the Belarusian State Pedagogical University were left vacant three years ago. The shortage of students was made good in 2014, when straight A level students could enter the university without any exams.

Sergey Vasilets, executive secretary of Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after Maxim Tank:
If we compare with 2014, two-thirds of specializations have gained popularity, cut scores have increased, and the number of straight A level students and graduates having diplomas with honors has increased by 40%.

Some 103 pedagogical classes have been created, with 1,500 students studying there now. These students have another year ahead of them to pull their high school certificates up and to enter a pedagogical university without exams. School marks should be no lower than seven in all subjects of the school program and no lower than eight in specialized subjects. And the compulsory internship after graduating from the university is to be two years more than usual, just as in the case of employer-sponsored students.

Alexander Lukashenko has approved of such innovations. That’s why the Belarusian Pedagogical University is expecting the unpopular specializations to reach their highest positions. But it will only happen in 2017.

Ekaterina Prodymako, student of school No.148 in Minsk:
Centralized testing means great responsibility. I understand that my life today is a pen which I use to put crosses in the correct checkboxes. I don’t want to cross out my life though; I want to tick it.

Registration of applicants for the centralize testing