Entrance examinations test nerves, reveal trends

School of Choice or Chance: Entrance examinations test nerves, reveal trends
23 July 2004

By Marianna Grigoryan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Entrance examinations for Armenia’s state universities have begun and
will continue through mid-August.

Some boys queue to become students and thereby avoid military
service. Some girls see a diploma as part of their trousseau. In some
cases they are pushed by parents and in others they legitimately want
to improve their future and see education as the means.

For whatever reasons, it is a time of nervous anticipation for
teenagers and parents.

As eager students and parents gathered for the fateful occasion,
Minister of Education and Science Sergo Yeritsyan called for calm.

But it is not a time for calm, for these days are, for thousands, a
time of “to be or not to be”. Every day throughout Yerevan,
applicants’ anxiety fills examination rooms while outside parents
pace, as if the birthing process had started all over.

“Here, getting higher education is something like a traditional thing
and it is respected,” says Vagharshak Khachatryan, secretary of the
committee responsible for admission. “Every year there is an increase
in the number of entrants.”

This year, 17,418 students have applied for 9,761 university places
(at 12 state institutions). Of the number accepted, 4,115 will study
free of charge, while 5,646 will pay for their education (as
determined by government requirements for assistance).

Pressing for answers . . .

That means that 7,657 applicants this year will either have to apply
to private universities (where examinations are considerably easier
but costs are higher) or wait until next year to apply again.

While the numbers may be a positive indication of the continued
emphasis Armenians place on higher education, they are also somewhat

For example, the number of applicants increases, while the level of
unemployment in the republic hardly changes, meaning that graduates
most likely cannot find work in their chosen field of study.

Khachatryan says it is also interesting that this year there is an
increase in the number of applicants for the Pedagogic University,
even though recent government changes have reduced the number of
teachers in Armenia.

Applications for other institutions don’t differ too much from
previous years. Most applicants apply for Yerevan State
University. The largest number wants to study law, followed by
economics, high technology, foreign languages, history, etc.

This year the number of applicants for the Academy of Agriculture and
Polytechnic University decreased, probably because the university now
requires two tests, as opposed to only one in some departments in
previous years.

Parents are anxious, too.

Contrary to art specialists’ insistence that this generation has no
appreciation for art, the number of applicants for art schools has
increased by 20 percent.

“Every year something changes, however, for sure there is no tendency
towards the decrease of interest in higher education,” says

Nor has there been a decrease in the dishonored tradition of bribery,
as parents buy off examiners who are more than willing to judge a
candidate’s bank account rather than his grade point.

Each year, the Ministry of Education promises that the process will be

This year was no exception. In an attempt to fulfill the ministry’s
promises, minister Yeritsyan delayed announcing names of examination

Reporter and parents were also allowed to follow the entrance process.