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 August 1, 2003 

Hot Topics: Competition for university entrance heats up during summer examinations

"Maybe if I squeeze my brain really hard . . . "

If summer is traditionally play time for students who spend three months forgetting about school, it is something much different for teenagers trying to take the next step into university.

It has been a summer of nervousness and stress for those such as 17-year old Lilit Asatryan.

In the mornings and evenings she is busy with her lessons and at mid-day, while friends might be enjoying Yerevan cafes, this girl is surrounded with books.

"Right now it seems to me that this is the most serious test of my life and the most difficult period," says Lilit. "I've been studying for two years to reach my goal and to enter an institution of higher education. The results of all of that will become clear this summer."

During these hot and emotional months Lilit, like thousands her age, is preparing to choose her life path, starting with a university education.

"I'm going to enter the department of cybernetics and if I succeed then I will get a very interesting profession and will have good work, plus, the education will offer me possibility of having more interesting and educated company," says Lilit.

Most are after the same thing: a good future, or continued study abroad, or a well-paid job. And for some of the boys, university is a way to avoid military service. For all, July and August are months when universities throughout the capital and neighboring areas turn into centers of nervous anticipation.

With hearts loudly beating entrants enter examination rooms while parents impatiently wait under the shade of buildings outside. And God save those entrants who are the first to finish exams and leave the buildings. They face a flow of questions from those parents, eager for a hint of their children's fate.

"Oh, I know I know this one!"

It is a story that is repeated every year and is the source of conversation and rumors.

This year is overburdened as well, because, despite all social conditions and difficulties, young people are heartily preparing, parents are persisting and the number of entrants is increasing day in and day out.

According to statistics, 17,180 entrants hoping to become students of state universities were registered in the republic this year.

"Every year the number of entrants increases," says Vagharshak Khachatryan, executive secretary of the republican examination commission dealing with entrance examinations to state universities of the republic, "this year as always the increased interest is shown to specific universities and departments."

Khachatryan says each era has its popular professions and department and, correspondingly, the biggest flow of entrants wishing to enter those specific departments can be noticed during that time period.

This year the biggest number of entrants was registered in Yerevan State University, followed by the State Engineering University of Armenia and then the Pedagogical Institute of Armenia. Fourth place is taken by Yerevan State Economic Institute.

Observations show that this year professions related to field of information technology are very popular and for that reason many entrants are trying to enter Departments of Applied Sciences of the Yerevan State University and Department of Cybernetics of the State Engineering University of Armenia, which will afford them opportunities as programmers with a well-paid future.

As it was before, this year as well many entrants chose traditional departments such as foreign languages, economics, law, philology and others.

"It is strange enough but comparing with last year there is a sharp increase of entrants who chose Pedagogical Institute of Armenia and Academy of Agriculture," says Vagharshak Khachatryan. "Such an interest is conditioned both by new departments opened in those institutions and by other circumstances."

It's a summer of cramming for students hoping to enter university.

It is encouraging this year, Khachatryan says, that, unlike previous years, a greater number of applicants to the Academy of Agriculture has come from villages, where agriculture is the major income.

"There are professions that are very much in demand in villages these days, however, there are no specialists and young people try to fill that gap," says Khachatryan. "Of course, all of that will have positive results in future."

Concerning exhausted profession of pedagogue, which, especially during past years, was forced to the background as a result of low salaries and conditions, these days it seems like things change.

"There are many entrants to Pedagogical Institute," says Khachatryan, "the increase of entrants' number can be explained by the fact that the interest and care of government shown in teachers increased. Every year salaries of teachers increase and there are programs aimed at improving their social conditions. That's why these days many young people strive for getting pedagogical education, which is praiseworthy."

This year also, comparing with other fashionable professions, the areas of natural sciences such as chemistry, physics and other such departments enjoy less popularity.

Of the 17,180 entrants, nearly half will not realize their education goals, as there are only 9,790 places for new students in the state universities. Of that number, 4,144 will be given full scholarships, while 5,646 will pay.

And those entrants who won't manage to enter universities, will either choose private universities or will wait until next year's entrance examinations, when the process will be repeated.


According to Agnes
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About 10 to 15 students sat outside the Presidential Residence in Yerevan Thursday to protest the closing of student hostels. They held banners saying "Think about future students" and "Mr. President are you with us?" The government is dismantling the student hostels, forcing non-resident students to find other housing.



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