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Fraud fees: why Russian students are expelled from Spanish universities
18 January 2021, 14:19
Fraud fees: why Russian students are expelled from Spanish universities
Russian schoolchildren living in Spain and studying there at the private LLC Russian Educational Center (REC) were ambushed. The Spanish authorities refuse to recognize the Russian documents on secondary education issued by the ROC, its graduates are not taken to Spanish universities, students are expelled.

Lyudmila Butuzova

Furious parents accuse Russian officials of selling government-issued certificates. According to them, an official investigation by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General Prosecutor's Office of Spain has begun against LLC REC, and a criminal lawsuit has been prepared in the National Court. The case smells like an international scandal.

Since the end of last year, 11 Russian citizens who received certificates in the REC, there is a threat of expulsion from higher educational institutions in Spain, one student - Svetlana Danelyan - has already been expelled from the University of Alicante. According to the girl, at the university she was told that she had no reason to continue her studies and stay in Spain. The university agreed to return 1.5 thousand euros, which she paid for 2020, and refused to return the money for the previous year. On November 27, Danelyan returned to Russia, will retake the Unified State Exam and try to enter a university in Moscow.

Eleven of her comrades in misfortune have also been warned of expulsion and are waiting for him from minute to minute. Their parents are rushing between the Russian and Spanish authorities, delaying the decision on expulsion with all their might. They ask for the intercession of the Russian Embassy in Spain, turn to President Putin and Prime Minister Mishustin, write to the Prosecutor General's Office and the FSB with a request to intervene on the side of Russian children who are not to blame for the fact that their Russian certificates in Spain turned out to be illegal.

But all the authorities seemed to have typed something in their mouths - there are essentially no answers, only formal replies come - "taken into account", "submitted for consideration", "the issue is beyond the competence", etc. As time goes on, this academic year LLC "ROTs" will graduate about 50 more children. What will happen to them?

The Russian Educational Center (RTC) began operating in Spain in the spring of 2017. The new school for Russian children was widely advertised on social networks and still on its official website it is said that it is “a unique school in Russia, operating outside the territory of the Russian Embassy, accredited by the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Education and Science, taking USE and OGE exams, issuing maturity certificates of the Russian Federation, and most importantly, ready to accept a student of any class for any period of study from one year to one week. "

There are many Russian schools in Spain, but most of them work in the form of extracurricular activities. There is an opportunity to learn Russian, immerse yourself in culture - but you still have to get basic education somewhere else. Some of them give a program for a secondary Russian school, but in order to obtain a Russian certificate, the children return to Russia and take exams at the school with which they have signed an agreement. The only exception is the school at the Russian Embassy in Madrid, which is "all-inclusive" - children study, take the Unified State Exam and receive their certificates without going anywhere. Education is free, but only for children of diplomatic mission employees. Ordinary Russian "Spaniards" cannot get there even for money. And so a full-fledged Russian school arose, where education and a certificate in one bottle. Several dozen parents decided to send their students to a new educational institution, seduced by the fact that children can pass the exam without hassle, get a Russian certificate on the spot and enter a European university.

“The RTC was presented as a pilot project for the export of Russian education to Europe”, - the father of one of the graduates shared with “Novye Izvestia” his opinion. - The level of support from Russia was very high - from Rostourism to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. The honorary consul of the Russian Federation in the Valencia region Ramon Kongost Wayes took part in the presentation of the school. All this testified to the seriousness of Russia's intentions to strengthen ties with young compatriots and, thanks to Russian education, give them the right to choose in the future - to study and live in Europe or at home. We could not even think that "strengthening ties" would turn into just a paid transit of government documents into a private, and as it now turns out, not very conscientious business.

On April 2, 2017, the new educational center received a Certificate of State Accreditation signed by the head of Rosobrnadzor, today's Minister of Education of the Russian Federation, Sergey Kravtsov. The accreditation is valid until 2029.

On April 2, 2017, the new educational center received a Certificate of State Accreditation signed by the head of Rosobrnadzor (Federal Education and Science Supervision Service). But could not become a Spanish school.

From the day of its opening, the center has been headed by Tatyana Yerakhtina - Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, professor, who moved to Spain for permanent residence ten years ago. Before that, in Russia, as she herself said in an interview on the Yandex-Zen platform, “she worked at a research institute (Federal Institute for the Development of Education) under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. She was engaged in project activities - the development of relevant topics in education and the implementation of innovations in the educational processes of schools, kindergartens and universities. "I came to Spain to "realize my dream":

From the day of opening, the center is led by Tatyana Yerakhtina - Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, a professor who moved to Spain ten years ago.

“I really wanted to live by the sea, and now - in 2011 my husband and I moved to Spain and bought real estate. We bought a small bungalow in a picturesque area. We like the area: there is a lot of greenery and beautiful beaches nearby. …Our expectations were fully met. At the same time, we practically do not intersect with the Spaniards themselves, we communicate with Russian-speaking neighbors. Just like in Russia, we celebrate holidays and discuss news".

“How did the idea to open a school in Spain come about? Is this some kind of state program or a private initiative?”, - the interviewer tried to find out, and now, with a delay of three years, the ambushed parents want to know. Tatyana Yerakhtina, in general, did not hide the details of entrepreneurial activity, which so successfully coincided for her with the intention of the Russian Federation to export Russian education to Europe:

“The opening of the school is the result of communication with the Russian diaspora. The children of our neighbors and friends must attend tutors in Russian language and literature. …There are many such families in my environment, so I decided to open a school in Alicante. And the habit of reading documents also helped, because in November 2015, a Resolution of the President of the Russian Federation appeared on the support of Russian schools abroad. And then I made a decision. We drew up an action plan and, together with our daughter, set about achieving the goal".

As Yerakhtina herself reported in an interview, the maximum cost for a five-day training program (senior classes) is € 6210 per year. Primary school costs € 3420, middle school € 4320. And if a student studies only on weekends, then the cost is 1152 euros per year.

All teaching takes place in Russian. The subjects and programs are the same as in Russia, and the certificate of maturity is the same as in the Russian Federation. Except, of course, the rather big tuition fee, which is comparable to studying in many European universities!

According to the activist of the Spanish parent committee, Yevgeny Kuznetsov, the year of study at Spanish universities is five times less than that of Yerakhtina, in educational institutions of complete secondary education attached to schools in Moscow and the Moscow region, with the delivery of the Unified State Exam and obtaining a certificate of maturity there - 160 euros per month. That is, roughly speaking, the services for the transit of Russian certificates to Spain had a rather high price. For the time being, the parents were ready pay for "service". But in October 2019, students who graduated from the RTC received a refusal to recognize Russian certificates as legitimate.

"We have received letters from the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Spain that the Russian Educational Center is not included in the list of foreign educational institutions in Spain, therefore, it has no right to issue educational documents of the state standard of the Russian Federation in Spain outside the consulate or the Embassy of the Russian Federation. In accordance with this, we were categorically refused to homologate the certificates of our children. It was a big blow. If we knew that the school was without a license, we would not have approached this sharaga for a cannon shot. When entering the school, only Russian accreditation was always featured, the headmistress assured that there were other necessary documents, but for some reason they were not shown to their parents. Many did not even think to ask them, given the interest in the school and its promotion on the part of Russian government agencies", - Yevgeny Kuznetsov told Novye Izvestia.

As the parent committee later found out, The REC in Spain was not subordinate to any supervisory authority in the field of education and was registered in a bungalow - at the Spanish address of residence of the director Tatyana Yerakhtina. Moreover, in Russia the center was not registered with the tax authorities - the organization does not have a TIN number in the Federal Tax Service. It is possible that the form of organization of the REC implied tax evasion both in the Russian Federation and in Spain - the parent committee writes to the law enforcement agencies of Russia. In any case, they paid for the education of the child "out of pocket" and did not see the school's financial statements in the public domain.

One of the parents told NI that teaching anything in Spain is not licensed in itself - a foreign school license is only required to issue state-recognized certificates.Let's clarify: with Russian and any other certificates you can enter Spanish universities. The procedure is as follows: the certificate is apostilled by the Ministry of Education of the country where the certificate was issued, then it is submitted to the Ministry of Education of Spain for recognition and after waiting 2-6 months, the so-called credencial is issued - a Spanish document confirming complete secondary education, equated to the Spanish diploma bachiller...

Why doesn't the REC have a license? Tatyana Yerakhtina categorically rejects any fraud on her part. Just the other day, in a big interview on Instagram, clearly designed for the raging parental community in Spain, Ms. Yerakhtina said:

“We are awaiting a decision. This procedure takes a longer period due to quarantine. All documents that were requested by the Ministry of Education of Valencia have been submitted".

A year ago, in her letter to the Russian Ambassador in Spain, the director of the educational center said the same - at the moment, the REC is allegedly in the process of entering the register of Spanish schools.

“Entering the register is not an easy and, in most cases, impossible task”, - Irina Chistyakova, head of a Russian school in Marbella, a board member of the Union of Organizations of Russian Compatriots in Spain, told Novye Izvestia. - Such a system is due to the fact that, according to Spanish rules, the school must have its own building, sports ground, swimming pool. In addition, a large number of conditions and requirements must be met, they are set out on dozens of sheets. Our institution has no opportunity to fulfill them, no funding, no sponsors, in fact, I invested my own money from the sale of a Moscow apartment in the creation of the school. Therefore, we decided to remain a language center outside, but operate like a normal Russian school inside. All lessons of the Russian educational program are held at the school. The USE is not accepted at school: children fly to pass exams to a school in the Moscow region, where they are issued certificates. With these documents, you can return to Spain and enter any university. How the REC works, I do not understand, I refused to cooperate with them, because it seemed to me that the methods of work of Tatyana Yerakhtina are not entirely honest. It is wrong to teach children for so many years and hide behind accreditation from Rosobrnadzor. Some students of our school previously studied at the RTC, but we still cannot get their personal files. Some state universities told me directly that they would not enroll children with RTC certificates, this is illegal. But, apparently, other universities did not immediately pay attention to homologation, now both students and parents are suffering.

The parents are furious. The Spanish Ministry of Education told them that the inclusion of the RTC in the register of foreign educational institutions of the kingdom, even if it ever takes place, will not solve the problem and the previously issued certificates will not become legitimate in the universities of the state.

“Yerakhtina assures us that it's okay - with her certificate you can safely study at universities in Portugal or any other European country. Yes, some guys left and entered. But now, when a scam with a lack of a license has been revealed, we are not sure that our children's certificates will be recognized in Europe and will not drive them out of universities. This is a very big scandal for Russia, Yerakhtina will not be able to sort it out on his own, we demand that measures be taken at the state level", - the father of one of the graduates told Novye Izvestia.

"What measures can Russia take?", - This is the most intriguing question, judging by the fact that in a stupor all of the above authorities, to which parents, students and teachers working in Spain turned to.

“We asked the ambassador to help us in issuing copies of certificates of our children at the embassy school, then our documents will have legal force in Spanish universities. We were refused, since the consent to such a procedure must be given by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. Do you understand what the core of a problem is? That is, our ministry must recognize that the school accredited by Rosobrnadzor, which was headed by today's minister Sergey Kravtsov, is a mom-and-pop store. This means that the accreditation itself, signed by him, with a validity period right up to 2029 is also in doubt. We need to figure out what kind of scheme it is, who was interested in it. This is hardly feasible. They will shake for themselves to the last and in every possible way hide from the problems that have created for our children on behalf of the Russian state", - says Yevgeny Kuznetsov.

According to the parents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia also got rid of the history with the certificates - not a single gesture towards compatriots abroad, they even refused a letter to the Spanish Foreign Office with a request to postpone the expulsion of students until the situation was resolved. A long-awaited meeting of the parental community with the Russian Embassy in Spain took place the other day. Ambassador Yuri Korchagin did not come out to the people, he is sitting in Madrid in the last months before his retirement and least of all needs a showdown with Russian officials who, willingly or unwittingly, cheated on Spanish compatriots. But on his behalf, the public was assured that the embassy was on the side of the offended, but position of the Ministry of Education, Kravtsov, is unknown, etc., etc.

"Before the parents had time to leave the embassy, there was a letter from the Ministry of Education. A year of unanswered correspondence, hundreds of requests... And finally... The Ministry of Education, it seems, not against the issuance of certificates through the school at the embassy, and the ambassador seems to have no reason to deny us assistance. But it is completely incomprehensible what kind of certificates we are talking about. About those that are prepared for the future graduates of the disgraced REC? The campaign is not mentioned in the letter. Then whose sins should the embassy school cover up? There is not a word about the graduates who, by the grace of Russian officials, have received “illegal” certificates. Will the embassy school be obliged to issue duplicates? How? By a joint order of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, or in another way, which will create even more problems for Spanish compatriots? Questions remained, the answers, as usual with officials - “look in Sportloto”. But you can't even get through there. The ambassador hid and does not appear, Rosobrnadzor is stupidly silent, the departments of the Ministry of Education, which supposed to paint an algorithm of actions and practically solve the problem, blocked their phones for calls from Spain. Nobody cares about the fate of the affected children and Russian education in Spain. All do not care!", - says Yevgeny Kuznetsov.

With all the sympathy for the “Spaniards” who got into the Russian dynamo, it is surprising how quickly they lost the habit of it. Many of them in the recent past were themselves representatives of the Russian bureaucratic class or plowed in the field of education. Should they not know that the universal answer “we do our best within our competence” means: just wait for it to resolve itself. Proceeding from this, it can be predicted that the officials will continue to change the problem with the certificates unrecognized in Spain until the parents solve it on their own - by placing their children, for example, in Moscow universities. Another question is what will happen to the advancement of Russian education to Europe, which was presented as a state program, but turned into an international scandal? Russian schools and Russian educational centers under public organizations of compatriots in Spain, in a letter addressed to the President and the Government of the Russian Federation, expressed concern about the situation around the Russian Educational Center in Alicante (Centro Educativo de Rusia S.L., “Not only does the current situation discredit the activities of educational centers in Spain, who over the years of existence have earned themselves reputation as law-abiding and active educational centers for the popularization of the Russian language, science and culture of Russia. We are very much afraid that the Spanish authorities will not delve into the essence of the problem, and this may affect the prestige of centers related to the teaching of the Russian language, and in the future lead to the impossibility of obtaining an educational license and entering into the register of the Ministry of Education of Spain, and perhaps even to the closure of Russian schools in Spain”, - says the letter (a copy is available in the edition).

In connection with the above, the leaders and teachers of Russian educational centers in Spain, realizing the complexity of the situation in which the students and their parents find themselves and fearing for their reputation, ask the Russian authorities to find a solution as soon as possible to find a way out of the current situation.

The best way out, according to the signatories, would be to deprive the educational center of Ms. Yerakhtina of Russian accreditation. This step, the authors of the petition hope, will raise the prestige of the Russian authorities in the eyes of the citizens of Russia and Spain and will not cause a negative attitude towards Russian compatriots living in Spain".

Novye Izvestia ask to consider this publication an official request to the Russian authorities. Previous appeals of NI to the Ministry of Education and Rosobrnadzor traditionally remained unanswered. Perhaps the questions of prestige is outside the competence of these respected departments.