With its people’s warm hospitality and curiosity, Belarus is an appealing destination in the middle of Eurasia. While much of the region plunged into capitalism following the collapse of the USSR, Belarus followed its own path apart from the integration of the rest of the continent. The monumental Stalinist capital of Minsk still has minimal advertising and no litter or graffiti, while the countryside offers a landscape of cornflower fields, thick forests, and picturesque villages. More recently, Belarus has taken modest steps to reach out to the West, including with respect to its system of higher education.
The system of higher education is governed by the Belarusian Ministry of Education and covers 42 public (State) and 9 private (non-State) higher education institutions that operate under unified standards in the processes of teaching, management, assessment and research. At present, 362,900 students are enrolled in Belarusian universities; 8,900 in M.A. programs. Most of the higher education institutions are located in the capital city of Minsk. The academic year runs from September 1 through June 30 and is traditionally divided into 2 semesters, with the second semester beginning in early February.
In May 2015, Belarus was awarded membership in the European Higher Education Area conditioned on fulfillment of a road map emphasizing not only Bologna degree structures, but also academic freedom, university autonomy and democratic and civic values. Although the Russian higher education's “five plus one” model of combining undergraduate and master’s education remains common in Belarus, universities are shortening degree programs to comply with the Bologna model. Belarusian universities have also been upgrading quality management systems to meet European standards. Despite these efforts, the Soviet Union’s legacy is still apparent in the country’s higher education sphere. These and others are some of the issues that must be resolved before Belarus is made a full member of the Bologna process.
Depending on the institution, it is likely the grantee will also work with its faculty on curriculum development and conducting of workshops and seminars.
Occasionally, U.S. Fulbright scholars will be offered opportunities to participate in the U.S. Embassy’s cultural and educational events or to lead programs for general audiences at the local American Spaces in public libraries.