Corruption reaches crisis level in Tajik universities
The Education Ministry is the most corrupt government body. Entry exams in scientific departments can require paying US$ 20,000 bribes, this in a country where 47 per cent of the population lives in poverty.
Dushanbe (AsiaNews) – University education is one of the most corrupt domains in Tajikistan. The problem is such that the country is facing a shortage of “qualified professionals”, experts say.

The numbers tell the whole story. It is estimated that very few students earn their degree without paying bribes during their years of study. According to the country’s National Anti-Corruption Agency, the Education Ministry is the most corrupt state body in the country.

According to accounts reported by EurasiaNet, an administrator at a medical school asked a prospective student US$ 20,000 in bribes in order to be admitted. For matriculation into a liberal arts programme, students are expected to pay from US$ 1,000 to US$ 3,000. Law or economics programmes can cost between US$ 4,500 and US$ 10,000 to enter.

The price depends on depending on the prestige of the department, anonymous sources told the Central Asia-centred online research journal.

What is more, to put that figure in context, roughly 47 per cent of Tajiks live in poverty—that is, surviving on less than US$ 2 per day—according to the most recent World Bank data.

“Those who have the money can easily afford enrolment in any university, but the smart guys who cannot afford this remain unable to master their area of study,” said Oynihol Bobonazarova, who runs a legal-support clinic, Perspective-Plus, in Dushanbe.

“Corruption leads to instability. It undermines everything—like a tree that is healthy in appearance, but which has worms eating at its roots.” The lack of qualified experts in every field will cause “a very big problem,” Bobonazarova explained.

Graft in higher education has long been a problem in the former Soviet Union, and fed a culture of corruption in which paying extra fees for the right grade comes easily.