Russian Universities Line Up for Start of National ProjectsMay 19, 2019
St Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) hosted Project 5-100’s 27th Seminar/Conference on May 16-17, 2019. Project 5-100 is a government-funded initiative aimed at making Russia’s premier universities more competitive against the world’s other top-tier higher education institutions.
This year’s forum, like others before it, brought together leading experts in higher education and science, presidents of Russian universities, high-tech company officers and government officials.
The event opened with a plenary session, which was attended by St Petersburg Vice-Governor Vladimir Knyaghinin, SPbPU Rector (President) Academician Andrey Rudskoy, Senior Vice-President of the Russian Export Center Group Igor Zhuk, LENPOLYGRAPHMASH CEO Kirill Soloveychik, Director for Innovative Development at UEC-Saturn Dmitry Ivanov, and SPbPU Vice-Rector (Vice President) for Academic Affairs Elena Razinkina. The discussion focused on Russian universities’ contribution to this country’s national projects, the training of a digital economy workforce, the progress of S&T, educational and infrastructural projects that leading universities are pursuing in conjunction with scientific institutions, major high-tech companies and regional authorities, as well as on ways to increase the marketability of Russian higher education.
In his keynote address Vladimir Knyaghinin, who acted as the moderator for the session, noted that three St Petersburg-based universities were currently enrolled in Project 5-100 and voiced a hope that more would be approved to join it when a new selection was made in 2020.
Speaking about the transformation undergone by SPbPU since getting on board Project 5-100, Andrey Rudskoy described the project as a comprehensive program which alters the very essence of a participating university and the mental outlook of its faculty and staff, while setting up a vision for development for those universities that have not yet been brought within its compass. This, he stressed, does not boil down to achieving a high ranking. Rather, the Project 5-100 universities have a mission to perform, which consists in “exercising a systemic influence” on Russia’s education, science, industry and economy.
On the subject of current trends in higher education, experts agreed that a modern-day Russian university must seek intensively to train employees for those industries that have been designated as top-priority in this country’s Strategy for S&T Development, generate new technologies, implement innovative solutions that would best address the biggest challenges, and conduct cutting-edge research whose findings would be relevant to business and industry. In their scientific and business collaborations, universities should primarily aim to launch industry-oriented adaptive learning programs, build upon and expand existing modes of cooperation with industrial partners and implement the best practices for engaging students in R&D activities.
Speakers at both the plenary session and the roundtables emphasized the importance of creating an effective science communication system and making the Russian economy more open to innovations. At present, the incentives offered by the national projects are mostly designed to stimulate state-run and private companies to get involved in academic research. However, experts argued, it is necessary to ensure that business can learn from open sources what investable R&D projects are being carried out by universities.
The Ratings and Scientometrics roundtable paid particular attention to using science metrics to measure both progress on the implementation of federal projects and the performance of universities and scientific institutions. Nadezhda Polikhina, acting director of Sociocenter, a Moscow-based center for social studies, and head of the Project 5-100 Office, spoke about Russian universities’ publishing output and international standings. In her report entitled “Russian Universities at the Start of the National Project for Education: Ratings and Science Metrics” she dwelled on the importance attached to global ratings within the ambit of this national project which stipulates that all higher education providers receiving government funding to improve their competitiveness must maintain their foothold for at least two years running in the top 1,000 international universities by overall rating and the top 200 by subject or composite faculty area. As Nadezhda Polikhina pointed out, some of them have been consistently meeting these criteria, with 24 Russian universities making their way for two or more consecutive years into the top 1,000 by overall rating and 15 holding on for a similar length of time in the top 200 by faculty or subject.
Project 5-100 runs quarterly seminar/conferences to help implement programs aimed at rendering Russia’s premier universities more competitive globally. These events provide universities and their partners with a platform for sharing expertise, studying success stories, discussing current development issues, analyzing performance as well as promulgating the best practices and knowhow of top Project 5-100 participants across the country’s higher education system and enhancing faculty competence. The next, 28th, seminar/conference will be held on September 17-18, 2019, at the University of Tyumen (UTMN).