Some students free of tuition fees in Azerbaijan
Experts believe students may be given a discount in the second semester of the 2020/2021 academic year as well
The long duration of the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the income and social welfare of the population. In particular, the situation of low-income families became more difficult during this period. At this point, the state provided one-off financial assistance to low-income families, as well as covered the tuition fees of students from these families. Moreover, in April 2020, Cabinet of Ministers made a timely decision "On payment of tuition fees by students who are members of families belonging to socially vulnerable groups of the population."
Thus, the decision stipulates tuition fees for academic semesters in 2020 for students studying full-time (excluding repeated higher and secondary special education) and members of socially vulnerable groups in the educational institutions of the Republic of Azerbaijan on a paid basis during the normative period of education. It was noted that the expenses will be paid from the state budget. Thus, 40 million manat has been provided for the payment of tuition fees for 15,200 low-income students studying at universities in the 2019-2020 academic year.
But how is this system implemented? How many students have been able to take advantage of this opportunity? Given the continuing pandemic, will this decision apply to the new academic year?
According to press service of Baku State University, the discount will cover the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year. "A program has been adopted to support students who are members of families belonging to socially vulnerable groups to pay for their education. According to the current legislation of Baku State University (BSU), this privilege is applied to students who are entitled to a discount on tuition fees. Thus, about 1,000 students studying at BSU were granted this discount. Students whose parents became martyrs are generally free of education fees,” the statement said.
According to the press service of the Baku Slavic University, 449 students of the university applied for tuition fees, appeal of which was addmitted.
Leyla Muradova, a student at Shirvan College of Economics and Humanities, said she had taken advantage of the discount. "During the pandemic, my family's financial situation worsened. Because my parents receive not a monthly but daily salary. My father is a taxi driver. During this time, income has almost completely decreased. My mother lost her job. We could not afford to pay my tuition. This decision was very good for low-income students like us. Because if I didn't pay my tuition, I could be expelled from college. I submitted the necessary documents and my application was considered. This decision is the clearest example of the state's attention and care for students and education," she added.
According to education expert Kamran Asadov, at least 50 percent of the planned places in higher education institutions will be free from 2020. "According to the relevant decree of the President, IDP students, those disabled during the defense of the territorial integrity, independence and constitutional order of the Republic of Azerbaijan or killed for the freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, those missing in connection with military operations and students who are children of citizens declared dead, students who are family members who have received the status of martyr's family, persons under the age of 18 whose parents have died, children deprived of parental care, one parent of whom has died and the other whose parents are disabled in groups I and II are exempted from education. At present, 164,000 students study in 51 higher education institutions of the country, of which 31% study free of charge and 69% study on a paid basis. In 2019, the number of free places in the planned places was increased to 45 percent, and compared to 2018, 65 percent more students were admitted to free specialties. In 2019, out of 43,000 entrants admitted to universities, 21,000 won the right to receive free education,” he said.
"The "State Strategy for the Development of Education in the Republic of Azerbaijan" aims to improve the norms, standards and rules on the infrastructure of educational institutions, revise the system of accreditation of educational institutions on the basis of international experience, the formation of the state order in the education system, provide training in priority areas based on real needs of political, economic and social development. It is planned to improve the mechanism of admission and placement in higher and secondary special education institutions, abolish the plan of admission to public and private higher education institutions for paid education and determine the state order only for specialties. This means that the number of free places will increase in the coming years, and from 2020 at least 50 percent of the planned places in higher education will be free. On the other hand, if we take into account those who belong to the privileged category and are exempt from education, despite the admission to paid specialties, we can say that at least 65% of students are exempt from education and study for free. For example, 21,842 bachelors, 1,553 masters and 700 doctoral students are currently studying at Baku State University. 11,834 of them, or 54.18 percent, receive free education due to admission to state-ordered places. In 2019, the number of state-ordered places increased by 2,059 people compared to last year. 2,327 students belonging to the privileged category at BSU are also exempt from education. Also, 11,779 people receive scholarships at all levels of education at BSU,” the expert noted.
Education expert Malahat Murshudlu said the decision could be reconsidered. "This issue has been raised in the parliament and is being discussed. Probably, it will be considered again in the autumn session. I think that education in public universities should be free in general. Because the current economic situation of the population is very difficult. There are many low-income families. Social activism also plays an important role in this issue. If there are many appeals, this issue can be resolved by the relevant agencies. Because the economic power of the Azerbaijani state allows it,” she said.