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Academic Collusion

In his article, Kirill Titaev turns to a problem that is well-known to any lay Russian citizen - corruption and substandard quality in higher education. This problem is also familiar to many people living and studying in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, as well as in a number of other developing countries, such as, India. The author limits the scope of his inquiry to a specific type of corrupt behaviour in universities - allowing students with little or no knowledge of a subject to pass exams, which often involves the practice of 'voluntary' bribes.

As a main theoretical tool the author chooses the concept of 'tacit collusion', which could be defined as a situation in which a group engages, on a voluntarily basis, in repeated interactions which cause harm to third parties and the common interest, and which is subtle and unarticulated. Basing his arguments on rich qualitative material - more than 100 unstructured interviews collected over the span of almost 10 years - the author demonstrates  how the transformations of Russian higher education institutions since the beginning of 'perestroika' have led to the emergence of 'tacit collusion' between professors and students. While the former now try by all means to reduce their workload and their demands on students thus compensating for their low pay, the latter find themselves better off when they do not place any demands on their professors.

Titaev agrues that the emergence of 'tacit collusion' is related to the marked absence of deterrents - the two main factors that could prevent it, competition among individual professors, and the existence of professional standards allowing practitioners to increase their prestige/income (as shown by the examples of other countries), are currently absent in the Russian higher education system. 

Please note that the original article is in Russian.

Citation: K.Titaev, ‘Academic collusion’, Otechestvennye zapiski, 2(47), 2012

Author : Kirill Titaev
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