The factors and criteria involved in graduate recruitment: A Russian case study

This article first appeared on the ECCTIS blog

How important are higher education degree marks in Russian graduate job searches? Do employers look at and consider GPAs? The question is quite complicated and has no clear answer.

Of course, there is no unique methodology or official guidance on how to recruit, or which criteria should be considered. Therefore, every employer has the right to set their own criteria and rules for the review of applications for vacancies. After all, is something like this not happening in many countries around the world?

So why is the situation in Russia more complicated than in other countries?

The first complication is the lack of a GPA on the final diploma. Individual subjects are listed, but if employer wishes to identify the average score, they need to calculate it themselves. This is more common with foreign recruiters who are used to operating with this indicator during the initial stage of selection process.

However, Russian employers are unlikely to bother with this calculation, deeming it unnecessary. Traditionally, simply having a diploma is a sufficient factor for initial screening. Until recently, it was fashionable for employers to ask for a degree for any job, even for the post of a cleaner. But when competitiveness started to increase and Russian enterprises and companies with foreign capital became more careful with recruiting processes, HR departments began to pay more attention to other factors: degree specialisation, the list of subjects the student passed during the course and, finally, marks in individual subject areas, as well as the topics of the completed thesis and coursework. This information can be found on the transcript.

In Russia, there are two types of diplomas at each level of higher education, so-called “blue” and “red”. They are called so because of the colour of the documents. “Red” diplomas refer to honours degrees (there will be specific reference to ‘honours’ on the document). Unlike in the UK, this does not mean that a person studied more advanced course, rather that the student has obtained a very high average grade. In order to obtain a “red” diploma, a student must not get any “satisfactory” marks during the entire study period, and the total percentage of “excellent” marks must not be less than 75% within the designated timeframe. Also marks for the thesis and the state exam must be “excellent”.

“Blue” diplomas are issued for all other students who have successfully completed the course. Several factors should be taken into account. Firstly, there is no further distinction. So it is not known (without a thorough study of the transcript), what percentage of “excellent” marks a person with a “red” diploma has obtained, or how successfully a “blue” diploma holder completed the course (after all, if they obtain only satisfactory grades, they will still receive the document). Secondly, it is important to note that during the period of study a substantial number of students drop out. For instance, completion figures of students who entered bachelor level in 2007 demonstrate a rate of attrition of about 30% (data based on the responses received from Russian HEIs in December 2012). Traditionally, technical and medical courses are most demanding, so tend to incur the highest drop-out rates.

The difference in the status and prestige of the university is another aspect. In Russia there is an implicit ranking of universities, and many employers take into consideration the type of institution from which an applicant graduated. Undoubtedly, a graduate from Moscow State University or from Moscow State Institute of International Relations will be prioritised over a graduate from a regional institute. There are rankings, compiled by various organisations, which can also be used in this case. Late last year, the Russian Ministry of Education conducted an audit of both public and private institutions. As a result, some educational establishments are being either reorganised or simply closed. This factor can also be considered when screening job applications.

It should also be remembered that the majority of graduates from higher education institutions are not working in the specialism in which they trained. In this case, a diploma simply confirms that a person is able to think and work independently. Recently, some prestigious companies started to require graduates to be qualified in relevant disciplines, especially when it comes to specialised industries.

Responsible students have always tried to gain work experience while studying at the university. Employers frequently request work experience, so the placements are an important differentiator. However, whilst students used to take on placements during the last two years of education, the trend now is that many try to find something suitable as early as the second year.

The twin problems of corruption and diploma mills, against which there has been a long fight, do not always make it possible to blindly trust the marks on the diploma. No-one can say with absolute certainty whether a student has earned themselves the mark. In this regard, it makes sense to test an applicant, or check their knowledge and skills through interview.

For these reasons, Russian employers must consider a whole set of factors. Evaluation of graduates is often a subjective process, rather than one involving a set of easily applicable thresholds.

April 2013

UK NARIC compare marks achieved across the world to A-level and Bachelor degree grades obtained in England. For more information, please see International Grade Comparisons.

The Diploma Supplement and the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)

This article was first published on the ECCTIS Blog

At the Berlin Ministerial meeting in 2003, the UK and the other Bologna signatory countries committed themselves to the introduction of the Diploma Supplement. The agreed objective was that the Diploma Supplement should be issued automatically and free of charge to every student graduating from 2005.

In the UK, in 2013, this target has yet to be achieved, but what is the current situation with Diploma Supplement implementation and why has it proven so difficult to achieve?

The UK National Europass Centre (UK NEC) has a particular interest in the Diploma Supplement, because it is responsible for promoting the Diploma Supplement in the UK as one of the five documents that comprise the Europass Portfolio.

The Diploma Supplement: Background and status of implementation

The Diploma Supplement was designed jointly by the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and UNESO/CEPES and derives from a pilot programme that ran from 1996-1998. It is issued to students by Higher Education Institutions on the successful completion of a qualification. It provides information about the qualification, institution and qualification framework to aid recognition by credential evaluators, admissions officers, employers, individuals, etc.

The results of the 2011 UK Higher Education International Unit European Activity Survey of UK HEIs indicates that, of the 70 institutions that responded to the survey, 79% currently issue the Diploma Supplement. Of these, 82% use the standard European format; 73% issue them automatically.

One reason why the Diploma Supplement has not been ubiquitously implemented across the UK Higher Education Sector is because of the existence of the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).


The HEAR is specific to the UK and is the product of the Burgess Implementation Steering Group. It derives from a 2007 report Beyond the Honours Degree Classification. The HEAR is a concise, electronic document produced by a higher education institutions (HEIs), which provides a record of a student’s achievement during their time in higher education.

The HEAR conforms to the data fields for the European Diploma Supplement template, but it differs from the Diploma Supplement in a number of ways, including:

  • It is an electronic rather than paper document.
  • The title of the document (HEAR Diploma Supplement).
  • It is an on-going record that is updated throughout the student’s career with the institution (although the HEAR Diploma Supplement is the exit document issued on completion of the qualification). It can be accessed by the student at any time.
  • It contains information about the student’s non-academic achievement that can be verified and validated by the institution.

The relationship between the Diploma Supplement and the HEAR

The Diploma Supplement template and the guidelines governing its completion are inflexible. This is because the document is jointly owned by the European Commission, Council of Europe and UNESCO-CEPES.

Higher education institutions have the option to apply for the Diploma Supplement Label – a quality label which requires applicants to follow stringent guidelines to ensure consistency in the content and format of the document.

Because of the differences between the Diploma Supplement and HEAR, there has historically been uncertainty as to whether the HEAR complies with the Diploma Supplement template, and whether it meets the Diploma Supplement Label requirements. Some HEIs have, understandably, been reluctant to introduce either document until the issue is resolved.

In October 2012, the Burgess Implementation Steering Group published their final report entitled Bringing It All Together: Introducing the HEAR. The report proposed that higher education representative bodies commend the HEAR to be adopted sector-wide for students entering education in the academic year 2012-2013 (Universities UK and GuildHE have subsequently commended the HEAR to the sector).

Concurrently, clarification was sought from the European Commission as to whether the HEAR DS could meet the Diploma Supplement label requirements. The European Commission’s response was that they had no issue with the title of the document, or its electronic nature, and raised no objection to the inclusion of additional information so long as “it can provide genuine added value in a national context”.


The European Commission’s indication that the HEAR Diploma Supplement can meet the requirement for the Diploma Supplement Label has opened the door to a common UK position for the implementation of the Diploma Supplement.

These developments are a significant step towards widespread adoption of the HEAR Diploma Supplement across the sector. Indications from the Burgess Implementation Steering Group are that over 100 HEIs have already signed up to issue it.

The UK NEC will be paying close attention to future developments in this area, and is particularly interested in whether any of those institutions issuing the HEAR will apply for the Diploma Supplement label and test the question of what non-academic additional information the European Commission considers provides genuine added value to the document?

New User Area launched for members

As announced in NARIC News there are a number of phases in the redevelopment of the ECCTIS websites.

On 24th September a new User Area for UK NARIC members was launched.

This development will make it easier for members to log-on to our databases and get in touch with their designated Account Manager.

In the User Area all the services that are available to Users will be highlighted in an easy-to-use grid. One of the most significant developments is a new Member Enquiry System. This will allow Users to contact UK NARIC through their User Area and also upload documents associated with any queries. Please note that as of Monday 24th September you will no longer be able to email enquiries to UK NARIC.

A user manual of how to use the new User Area is available to download from the UK NARIC website.

If you have any difficulties using the new User Area or the Member Enquiry System please contact us on

Spotlight: Vietnam

Vietnam is the easternmost country in the Indochina Peninsula. With a population of over 90 million (rising at an annual rate of 1%), it is the world’s fourteenth most populous nation. It also has a young population: over half the population is below 30 years old, and 25% are within the 0-15 year age group.

Since doi moi (economic renovation) was announced in 1986, the country has benefited from sustained economic growth. Over the past decade, for instance, growth rates in the region of 5-10% have consistently been achieved.

In line with the political and economic reforms implemented since 1986, there has also been substantial investment in the education system. Public spending on education, as a percentage of GDP, is higher than all its regional neighbours; universal basic education has been established and the national literacy rate is 94%. Nonetheless, higher education funding has not achieved similar results, where standards are affected by low quality facilities, outdated teaching methods, and a lack of autonomy and academic freedom.


Vietnam is one of the countries showing an increase in the number of page views within the International Comparisons database. During 2011, Vietnam received 5575 views; an increase of 206, or 4% over the 2010 figures. These figures continue the trend; 2010 saw an 18% increase over the 2009 views.

Database page views 2011 5575
Database page views 2011 rank 46th
Database page views 2010 5369
Database page views 2010 rank 53rd
Member Enquiries 2011 100
Member Enquiries 2011 rank (out of 190) 36th
Member Enquiries 2010 127
Member Enquiries 2010 rank (out of 190) 20th
Individual Assessments 2011 8
Individual Assessments 2011 rank 135th
Individual Assessments 2010 9
Individual Assessments 2010 rank 128th

“We’ve had a close look at where Vietnamese member enquiries are coming from and the results have highlighted that organisations from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK are all interested in Vietnam,” stated Tim Buttress, Deputy Director Policy and Communication at UK NARIC. “For instance, we normally see only around 2% of our enquiries from Australia, but this jumps to 13% if we look at questions about Vietnam.”

This broadly supports figures from UCAS, which show that applications from Vietnam increased 15.9% for entry 2011.

Education in Vietnam

All levels of education in Vietnam are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), apart from vocational and technical education, which comes under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) – established by Prime Ministerial order in March 1998. The only exceptions are the medical universities, managed by the Ministry of Health, and military and security institutions, which are the responsibility of the Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Public Security respectively.

In the higher education sector, there is an acknowledged lack of capacity. Between 1998 and 2008, 198 new universities / colleges were opened but, with only 400 higher education institutions, only 25% of secondary school graduates get to progress onto the national higher education providers. In 2010 for instance, there were 1.2 million graduates of secondary schools, but only places for 300,000 within the higher education sector. Therefore, with greater levels of disposable income, more parents are able to fund studies at either private higher education providers or international universities. Reasons for choice of international over domestic degree programmes include:

Ref MITC (

Whilst competition to enter public higher education institutions is fierce, the very best students prefer to attend private institutions like the Foreign Trade University, National Economics University, Banking Academy or Medical University, because of increased employability.

In the last few years, the Government has launched new university initiatives with international partners to seek to build world-class institutions. In 2008, the Vietnamese German University (VGU) opened in Ho Chi Minh City. A French-backed technology school is opening in Hanoi and the Australian institution, RMIT, has opened an international campus in the country.

Recent Educational Developments

In 2010, a new Government initiative was launched to introduce English lessons for all 3rd grade students, as a means of supporting continued economic development. Four English sessions are envisaged per week; however, implementation of the policy may be hindered by a lack of English language teachers.

Official language(s) Vietnamese
Other language(s) English (increasingly favoured as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Population 91,519,289
Population date Jul-12
Population (world ranking) 14
GDP (purchasing power parity) $ 299,000,000,000
GDP (purchasing power parity) date 2011
GDP (world ranking) 43
Compulsory education nine years (ages 6 – 14)
Academic year Commonly September – May at school level, and September – June at higher education level.
Education laws Universal Primary Education Law 1991; Education Law 1998; Education Law 2005.
Outgoing students
Total (foreign students) 44,038 (2009)
Percentage of world total 1.3% (2009)
Top Destinations USA (12,612), Australia (7,648), France (5,803), Russian Fed. (3,518), Japan (2,895) – 2009

To work or to study? That is the question.

The UK has long been one of the top destinations to come and study; it is also a very attractive place to work. If you’re thinking of coming to the UK, which is the best option?

The latest figures from UK BA show that between April and December 2011 just over 7,300 migrants were granted a Certificate of Sponsorship through Tier 2 (there are more than 11,000 Certificates of Sponsorship available between now and March 2012!).

Similarly, UCAS have just released figures showing that over 77,000 students from outside the UK have applied for undergraduate courses starting in 2012.  This includes a 13.7% increase in non-EU applicants compared to last year.

So, the UK is still very much seen as a place to work or study.

Working in the UK

As highlighted in our previous blog on Tier 2 and Post Study Work, the UK is a great place to work.  The main reasons are that it will look great on a CV not least because the experiences you’ll gain through working in one of the biggest and most diverse economies in the world.

The skills that employers are looking for fall into four broad areas: self-reliance skills, people skills, general employment skills and specialist skills. Obtaining these skills and using them effectively are the key to being able to get the job you want.  But how can you do this?

Well, the first thing to do is get a job!  There are all sorts of job websites out there and they all have their own particular niche or unique selling point.  We are not in a position to suggest which one is the best, but one thing for certain is that employers use qualifications to determine the skill levels of individuals.  A statement of comparability can help make sure that employers in the UK understand the level of a qualification if it has been awarded outside the UK.

Demonstrating that you have the skills that employers are looking for is difficult, but using the Europass portfolio can help.  Europass is a set of documents that are used across the EU to help individuals highlight their skills, competencies and experience; and what’s more it’s free!!

If you’re from outside the UK and you want to come to work here you’ll have to apply through the Points Based System (see our previous blog to find out more).

Whether you are from inside or outside the EU, being able to use English language is also very important if you want to work in the UK.  Again, we can help you show employers that you are skilled in English.

So, why come to the UK?  It will look great on your CV, you’ll get excellent experience, there are plenty of great employers out there, you’ll improve your English, you’ll earn a comparatively high wage and you’ll benefit from a tolerant multi-cultural society.  In short, it’s a fantastic place to improve your career!

Studying in the UK

The UK is a brilliant place to study.

Some figures:

This demonstrates that the UK is a great place to study!

The UK offers a great deal for international students.  Alongside the above, the UK can also offer the following:

Worldwide recognition

Qualifications from UK higher education institutions are recognised and respected throughout the world.  The standard of excellence within the UK higher education sector is very well established meaning that the qualifications awarded are amongst the most highly regarded qualifications available.

Receive a quality education

UK higher education is synonymous with quality.  Each UK HEI is responsible for the quality of its programmes, but they are subject to independent audits carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).  The QAA ensures that UK institutions are providing awards and qualifications of an appropriate quality and academic standard.

Great career prospects

All UK Bachelor level qualifications should be awarded with a Diploma Supplement.  This is a document that outlines the details of the course studied and the institution.  It covers the course content, type of study, modules covered and skills required to complete the programme. In addition it contextualises the qualification in relation to the national education system. It is particularly useful when continuing with studies or applying for a job.

Finally, the multi-cultural society of the UK and being a gateway to Europe (for those outside of Europe!) also mean that the UK stands out as a destination to further your study.

If you are from outside the EU then you’ll need to apply through Tier 4 of the PBS.  A statement of comparability will also help admissions staff understand more about your qualifications.


Tim Buttress, February 2012



Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.

Immigration overview

Please note that since this article has been published immigration guidance has changed. Please see our post UK NARIC’s Visas and Nationality Service launches on 6 April which contains more up-to-date information.


The Points Based System (PBS) was introduced in 2008 and was designed to enable the UK Government to make better informed decisions about economic need and to make the process more straightforward and to improve the management of economic migration.

The key change to the system is that organisations wishing to bring migrants to the UK to work or study must register with the UK Border Agency (UK BA). Once employers and education providers have registered as sponsors they can legally bring individuals into the UK. The Sponsors Registers list all the employers and education providers that UK BA has licensed to bring migrants to the UK to work or study.

The PBS replaced the existing 80+ routes into the UK with five tiers. These tiers have changed a little since they were first introduced and as of December 2011 they are:

Tier 1 – High Value Migrants*

This tier is specifically designed for those that are going to make a significant contribution to the UK. There are very few visas available through this route (about 1000) and those wishing to use this route must be exceptionally talented or are going to invest very substantial amounts of money in the UK.

Tier 2 – Skilled Worker*

This tier is for skilled migrants wishing to work in the UK. The most important aspect of this tier is that the migrant must have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before they can apply. A CoS is obtained from sponsoring organisations. In addition, migrants need to show that they are proficient in English and that they have enough funds to support themselves and their dependents.

Tier 3 – Low-skilled Worker*

This tier was designed for temporary and low-skilled workers. It exists so that the UK can react to any specific, low-skilled, temporary labour market shortages. This tier is currently suspended.

Tier 4 – Student*

Anybody wishing to study in the UK needs to apply through this tier. Students from outside the EU can only study at providers that are on the Register of Sponsors for Tier 4 and will need to have a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies this is obtained from the education provider. Again there are English and maintenance requirements which must be met.

Tier 5 – Temporary Workers and Youth Mobility Schemes*

This tier is for anyone wanting to do temporary work in the UK. Migrants will need a CoS and to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents. This route is also for young people from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Monaco who want to come and experience life in the UK.

The UK Government also uses advice from independent bodies on immigration. For example, individuals applying through the exceptionally talented category of Tier 1 need an endorsement from the Royal Society, the Arts Council England, the British Academy or the Royal Academy of Engineering. Similarly the Migration Advisory Committee advises the Government on migration issues, in particular the shortage occupation list for Tier 2.

UK NARIC also work very closely with UK BA supplying data to the PBS Calculator and advising on how qualifications can be used as part of the immigration process.

A lot of individuals applying to work or study in the UK use our services to support their application; in particular, they use the Statement of Comparability to clearly show that they have the necessary level of qualification and we have seen a significant increase in people using the UK NARIC English Language Assessment to help show that they have the necessary proficiency in English.*

To make sure you get the most up-to-date information please visit the UK BA website.

Over the next few weeks we will be having a closer look at the individual tiers of the PBS; in the meantime, if you have any questions please leave us a comment.

Tim Buttress, December 2011


*Please check the Home Office website to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.