By Irina Hovannisian
With higher school entrance examinations in Armenia over, the education minister has praised the work of the admission commission, putting down some complaints and dissatisfaction from applicants to its ‘strict criteria rather than unprofessional approach.’
“Perhaps they were a bit strict in their criteria, but these criteria were universal for all applicants,” Levon Mkrtchian told reporters on Tuesday.
Entrance examinations to higher schools ended in Armenia this week, with many teenage applicants and their parents feeling unhappy with the way they were handled.
In particular, people complain that at certain examinations officials helped handpicked entrants with prompts, in other cases they put psychological pressure and subjectively graded applicants, especially during oral exams.
Ruzanna Hovannisian is convinced that her daughter, Mariam Ohanian, was treated unfairly at the oral English language examination.
“She had high marks from the two previous examinations and was subjected to psychological pressure from the admission commission at her oral examination. Perhaps her high marks annoyed some people,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL, adding that she had addressed a letter of complaint to the minister.
Minister Mkrtchian admits that it is difficult to find a means of effective struggle against subjectivity in oral examinations. “I feel that the parent is perhaps right, but we have no solution. The degree of subjectivity in oral examinations is very high,” he said.
As was expected, the threshold for entering an institute or university faculty has lowered a little this year as compared to the previous years, with the exception of competitions for the law departments at the Yerevan State University, Armenia’s biggest and most prestigious higher school.
To gather 57.5 points (out of 60) is likely to be enough for an applicant to become a student at the University’s law department studying free of charge. To be admitted to the paid section of the department one is likely to score at least 55 points. The sufficient points for the free sections of the University’s English language, economics and history departments are likely to be 58, 57.5, and 55, respectively. The highest score for the world economics department of the University of Economics is expected to be 55. And for the Medical University’s therapy department it is likely to be 36.5.
The minister expressed his concern over the dropping competition for some departments of the Engineering University. Competition is particularly low for natural sciences departments, where satisfactory marks from two examinations are enough for admission. “Sending their children to train as economists, lawyers or diplomats parents in fact condemn them to future unemployment, as, for example, our small country hardly needs more than a hundred diplomats every year,” Mkrtchian stressed.
The final results of the entrance examinations will become available on August 24.
(Photolur photo: Levon Mkrtchian.)