It is with the deepest regret and incredulity that the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies has learned of the decision of Rosobrnadzor in the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation not to renew the accreditation of the Moscow School of Social and economic sciences. This institution is known affectionately as “the Shaninka”, after its founder the scholar of Russian peasantry Teodor Shanin, an old and valued member of BASEES.
The consequence of Rosobrnadzor’s decision for the 300-strong student body is that if they choose to continue their courses at the university their hard-earned diplomas will no longer be state-recognized, with all that that implies for their future academic and career trajectories (including, their deferment from military service). The impact on those who were planning to enter the university in the future is not difficult to imagine.
I will not speculate on the reasons for the decision to revoke the Shaninka’s accreditation, except to note that it seems set to extinguish yet another of the shining beacons of higher education in the Russian Federation. Since its foundation in 1995, the Shaninka has become an internationally respected institution of higher education and research. Its graduate and, recently introduced, undergraduate programmes attract the very best and talented young people from all over the Russian Federation. These students had the benefit of tuition from some of the Russian Federation’s liveliest minds, scholars who are academic leaders in varied fields of social and economic sciences, but also who are experienced practitioners in the world of culture, business and the law. They include Vasily Zharkov, Victor Vakhstain, Linor Goralik, Pavel Rudnev, Grigory Yudin and the Rector, Sergey Zuev.
Experience has shown that higher education is most successful in achieving its mission of producing the next generation of scholars, figures in public life, industry and enterprise when tuition is informed by rigorous, cutting-edge research and real-world practice. Rosobrnadzor not only inflicts a blow on the cause of quality higher education in the Russian Federation, from which the whole sector will suffer, but it also harms the reputation of academic scholarship in the Russian Federation more broadly by landing a fatal blow on the numerous varied and innovative programmes of international cooperation and collaboration in research, teaching and learning that have been painstakingly built over the past two decades. In particular, the partnership of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences with the University of Manchester, where Teodor Shanin is emeritus professor, has demonstrated how the international academic community can be enriched at all levels by collaborative programmes, which can act as rare forums for genuine and disinterested exchange of views.
BASEES wishes to convey its solidarity with the staff and students of Shaninka and to add its voice to those urging the Ministry of Education to reverse Rosobrnadzor’s potential death sentence on this has pronounced on this unique seat of scholarship and learning.
Judith Pallot, President of BASEES