maanantai 12. joulukuuta 2011

Russian higher education is one of…

There are many different opinions about Russian higher education, about its development and progress.
Some specialists are ready to cooperate with Russian universities; some specialists think that there is no need to do it because universities are outdated and backward. But in order to make some conclusions we need know the background of Russian universities development and proved knowledge about reforms which are happening nowadays in the Russian education.
Firstly, I would like to describe the system of Russian higher education in Soviet time which is actually was very logical and structured. That’s why there are so many famous world Russian scientists which have graduated in Soviet time. We could remember here Zhores Alferov, Russian physicist and academic, winner of Nobel Prize; Sergey Kapiza, Russian physicist and professor of Moscow Physical and Technical University; Grigory Perelman, mathematician, who has made landmark contributions to Riemannian geometry and geometric topology, and many other names, especially from technical area of expertise as the main driver of progress. The main reason of such success was very broad education since secondary school when student of technical university studied at the same time with technical disciplines also many humanitarian subjects. All exams required the understanding of several specialties in order to get positive mark during the discussion with professor. Such word as “tests with multiply choice” wasn’t known 20 years ago in Russian universities. And the last point which made the education sound is the constant and strong connection with Russian enterprises in the field of research projects and employment for graduates. There is the need to mention here also scientists and professors who lived not in their time and studied issues which are needed today but “yesterday” such ideas were out of processes.
To sum up Russian (Soviet) higher education had multidisciplinary approach in studying process and constant work with companies…
During “perestroika” time the whole this structure was collapsed and each university had gone to the independent sailing with its own contacts with companies, research projects, educational programs, etc. During this time previous system in some points worked and in another points malfunctioned. Nevertheless, students didn’t lost their curiosity and desire to know more and deeper subjects which were provided in universities.
Nowadays, Russian higher education system has the reform which is targeted to structure and update the whole education concept up to the highest level in the world. As the target, Ten Russian Universities should be in the ranking of world leading universities up to year 2020 or already in nine years. The question is what has been done and is in the process of implementation in the education? Firstly, there was carried out the competition between universities for getting new status of national research universities and federal universities which will get funding and strict targets in the field of education development based on innovation aspects. Such universities already nowadays have the unique laboratories and equipment for research processes which would be difficult to find in other universities in the world. There is the opportunity to invite best leading specialists in different areas of expertise for some courses which could improve or support existed knowledge of Russian students. Together there were selected 27 national research universities and all of them have achieved already some results. For example, such universities as St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, South Ural State University (Tcheljabinsk), Tomsk State University, Higher School of Economics (Moscow), Moscow Bauman State Technical University, St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics, Tomsk State Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg Plekhanov State Mining University, etc. These universities successfully integrate science and education in the constant cooperation with companies for high-technologic sectors of Russian economy. At the same time 8 federal universities were created on the base of several universities in different areas of Russia. The aim of creation of new universities is the development of system of higher professional education on the basis of optimizing regional educational structures and strengthening links of educational institutions of higher education with economics and social sphere of the federal districts. Such federal universities as Ural Federal university, Siberian federal university, Southern federal university or Arctic federal university became famous with their strong cooperation with leading European university from the Netherlands, Germany and France; active participation in different funding projects as FP7, ENPI, Tempus, Erasmus Mundus, etc. And this is only the beginning…
Of course, everybody will continue this phrase “Russian higher education is one of…” with its own understanding and view of the situation but one thing I’m pretty sure, if we are not active in the cooperation with Russian universities, its professors and scientists today then other universities will do it instead of us… because temptation and possible future result are so promising and perspective!
Katja Novikova, Research Director, NORDI

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