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Percentage of Jewish Students in Soviet Union Smaller Than Under Czar

April 29, 1964
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A higher percentage of Jewish students was permitted to attend universities in Czarist Russia than is enrolled in the USSR today, the American Jewish Congress charged today in releasing a study of Jewish participation in Soviet higher education.

The study was prepared by Prof. Nicholas DeWitt of Indiana University, one of the country’s leading specialists in Soviet affairs. In his report, Prof. DeWitt said that official government statistics showed the USSR employed a quota system “as a direct discriminatory device against the admission of Jews to institutions of higher learning in the USSR. ” Approximately 3.22 percent of the student population in Soviet universities is Jewish, according to the study.

In an accompanying statement, Will Maslow, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, compared the 3.22 per cent figure with the official quotas imposed on Jews in 1887 by the Czarist Minister of Education. According to the “History of the Jews in Russia and Poland” by the Jewish historian Simon Dubnow, published in 1918, the Jewish university quota was 10 per cent of the Christian university population within the Pale of Settlement, five per cent outside the Pale and three per cent in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Prof. DeWitt, a former member of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University, said in his study that the Soviet quota system in higher education, giving preference to other nationalities over Jews in university admission, was a “major policy directive” and was “deliberately used in the USSR as a means of discrimination against Jews. ” Highlights of his study included the following findings:

1. While the total number of day and evening students in Soviet universities increased by 248 per cent between 1935 and 1960, the number of Jewish students decreased by 39 per cent.

2. The proportion of Jews who had completed higher education among all professionals declined from approximately 18-19 per cent in 1941 to 8.2. per cent in 1960.

3. The 8. 2 per cent of university graduates who are Jews contrasts sharply with the present Jewish university enrolment of 3. 22 per cent. “It is obvious that the proportion of Jewish students currently enrolled in higher education is substantially smaller than the proportion of Jews who enjoyed higher education in the past,” Prof. DeWitt commented.

4. The proportion of Jews listed as “scientists” in official Soviet statistics has been in a steady downward trend during the past 20 years, decreasing from 21.2 per cent in 1939 to 8.9 per cent in 1961.

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