Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 9. June 25, 1947
More than forty foreign correspondents attending the Foreign Ministers' Conference in Moscow visited the Soviet Union's largest university, named after its founder M. Lomonosov, a great Russian scientist of the eighteenth century.
At a Press Conference arranged by the University authorities. Professor llya Galkin. Rector of the University since 1942, was bombarded with numerous questions regarding the system of education, fees, bursaries, teaching staff, etc.
In answering the pressmen's questions. Professor Galkin said that in six years' time the University will celebrate its 200th anniversary. The University accepts students from all over the USSR and today has 8,200 undergraduates of 48 nationalities. In addition there are more than 1,000 post-graduate students and 1,700 taking correspondence courses.
In general, about 20% of the students sitting the entrance examinations get into the University (the examinations are conducted on a competitive basis). This does not mean that others who passed the examiners cannot get higher education. There are thirty-four similar universities in other cities of the Soviet Union, apart from numerous institutes and other places of higher education.
The Rector explained that students were admitted irrespective of their social origin, party membership, nationality and religious convictions. The only document required of a student was a high school graduation certificate. Those who graduated from high school with a gold medal, i.e., "honours," were admitted without sitting any examinations.
There are 1,380 teachers and professors at the University. 420 of whom hold doctors' degrees. Professors are elected by secret ballot by heads of faculties and professors of chairs.
The University has eleven faculties. The most popular are the faculties of law, philosophy, history, physics and philology. After the war there was a swing towards the humanities. All students must pass a full five-year term of study. The correspondents learned that Mr. Vishinsky had graduated from this University, and at one time was its Rector.
More than two-and-a-half thousand students of the Moscow University are veterans of the war. They are receiving their education free of charge, and get bursaries that cover their living expenses, plus pocket money.
The annual tuition fee is 400 roubles. But children of pensioners, war and labour casualties, and of parents with large families, are educated without any charge whatsoever, so only about 35% of the students attending courses at the University pay a tuition fee. One-third of the students are children of intellectuals (non-manual workers).
All students of the Moscow University receive a monthly bursary progressively ranging from 250 roubles during the first year to 450 roubles during the last year. The bursaries are calculated from the students' cost of living. Those who get first-class marks get their bursary increased by 25%. There are also 425 special scholarships, each giving 800 roubles a month.
Some of the correspondents could not understand why student received bursaries from the University and at the same time paid back a small sum for tuition. The Rector explained that this method put a certain moral obligation on a student to study better.
As a result of the war half the undergraduates are girls, as compared with the pre-war figure, which was only 35%. The entrance age is limited from 17 to 35. The majority of undergraduates are in the 17 to 25-year-old group. One-half of the undergraduates are the inhabitants of Moscow and its suburbs, the rest come from different parts of the USSR. All boarders at the University are lodged without any charge whatsoever (there are no mixed hostels). All students receive workers' ration coupons and buy their food at special "closed" stores or have their meals in "closed" restaurants where prices are much lower. The same applies to clothes. Every year students have a two months' summer and a two weeks' winter vacation. The University has its own sports club and has competitions with other universities in various forms of sport. Sport is also part of the curriculum.
After the press-conference, the correspondent's went on a tour of the University. Some of the buildings were badly damaged during the German air-raids in 1941-1942. The students took a very active part in restoring the buildings, so that today hardly any signs of the bombing are left. The pressmen interviewed some of the students in the corridors.
The correspondents were shown the University library, which contained over two million books, half of which were on foreign literature.
There was a lively discussion between the students and the visitors in a room of the Biological Faculty at a lecture on "Darwinism." Each side was showered with questions on current affairs, students way of life in the Soviet Union and in foreign countries, exchange of students, etc. The students were surprised to learn from the correspondents that the teaching of "Darwinism" was forbidden in some of the American States. In vain the correspondents tried to prove that Truman's help to Greece and Turkey was not directed against the Soviet Union. The students considered that this help extended to Turkey, which did not take part in the war against Germany and was directed against all progressive democracy all over the world. The correspondents were pleased with the discussion and expressed the hope that the students knew their subjects as well as they knew politics. They promised to write "favourably." To that the students replied: "Do not write about us favourably. Just write the truth."