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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 7. 30th May, 1957

Prof. Slater on Russia

page 3

Prof. Slater on Russia

Professor Slater gave an interesting illustrated talk to the Chemical Society recently on his recent visit to the U.S.S.R. He was one of a delegation of 3 from the University of New Zealand, together with Professor MacKelwee (Engineering, Canterbury ) and the Chancellor, Sir David Smith.

The delegation were given the [unclear: red] carpet treatment everywhere. Although their main interest was in the Universities they were taken on a vast tour of Russia west of the Urals, accompanied by a guide and an interpreter.

Speaking of their host. Moscow University, Professor Slater said it was the show-place of Soviet education. Of the Chemical Faculty (his special interest), he considered it to have the appearance of good chemical departments elsewhere. Equipment was good but not lavish. There was a high staff-to-student ratio—3 times as large as in New Zealand. Instructional laboratories were small and students spent much of their time in them. At other Universities, chemistry departments were much more modest and inadequately housed, but staff-to-student ratio was everywhere large. Entrance to the universities is largely competitive. Students enter at about 17, and take 4-5 year courses. Examinations arc largely oral.

In Moscow, Professor Slater was particularly impressed with the Permanent Agricultural Exhibition. Here are displayed the current products of the various Soviet republics, with emphasis on the progress of Communism and the 5-year plan.

Housing in Russia was poor, Although new houses are being built, nobody bothers to repair the old ones. A family, regardless of its size, usually lives in a 2-roomed Hat. Rural houses are particularly poor; log cabins are still being built. There still appeared to be a lot of peasants in rural districts.

The general standard of consumer goods was lower than here. Clothing was drab and looked as if it came from a second-hand shop.

Professor Slater considered the Russian system to be highly bureaucratic. To enter any public building one requires a pass card, and, once within, any sort of business takes a long time to trasact. He thought true Communism was a long way off. What is practised is a form of socialism in which people of most value to the State are paid most. Skilled technologists in high positions may get up to £600 a year, where as the minimum rate of pay is only £90 a year.