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The goal of Project 5-100 is to maximize the competitive position of a group of leading Russian universities in the global research and education market.

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Project 5-100 Reviews Outcomes and Maps Out New Development Strategies at 29th Conference

November 21, 2019

November 20 was the second and final day of Project 5-100's 29th Conference hosted by the Moscow-based Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (PRUE) as part of the National Project for Education.

Leading domestic and international experts in higher education and research joined university representatives and government officials in studying the best practices and most compelling success stories of Russia's premier universities, and laying out new strategies for advancing higher education in this country.

Discussion focused on how Russian universities' development will play out over the next six years. Participants also looked at the outcomes fr om a recent meeting of the Council for Increasing the Competitiveness of Russia's Leading Universities, which concurrently acts as the Project 5-100 board.

Alexey Medvedev, Russia's Deputy Minister for Science and Higher Education, reminded the audience of the original rationale behind Project 5-100: it is impossible to make the Russian economy more competitive unless its universities, too, enhance their competitiveness in the global education marketplace where they are seen to be vying for talent, that most valuable of the world's resources. According to Alexey Medvedev, it is the gifted and the creative who are driving the technological and innovation agenda and transformational changes in the global economy. Universities have responded to these developments by embarking on a transformation of their own that has allowed them to challenge the preeminence of industrial giants while retaining their unique historical identity.

The deputy minister spoke highly of Project 5-100 participants' performance as detailed in their roadmap progress reports submitted to the recent Council meeting and remarked that their success could be replicated at other Russian universities. In his opinion, Project 5-100 universities have shown improvement on quantitative indicators, which underscores major qualitative changes in governance. By experimenting with new management practices and proving their viability, they have effectively set the agenda for the forthcoming modernization of Russia's entire higher education system.

This modernization effort, experts noted, will get a boost from the government's plans to run a new competition next year to sel ect universities whose global competitiveness-enhancing initiatives it will fund from 2021 onwards. The competition will be held under the Young Professionals Federal Project that makes part of the National Project for Education, ushering in a new government support program to succeed Project 5-100 from which it will differ in the makeup of both the list of participating universities and the governing body.

The Council's deputy president Andrei Volkov, director of the Institute for Public Strategy at the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, went into some detail about the changes being contemplated. He said that, while three of the current international members of the Council had already agreed to serve for another six years, which should ensure continuity of principle and practice, much of its existing domestic and international contingent was to be replaced. The Council is also considering setting up subcommittees, or panels, each composed of some three experts fr om Russia and abroad, to evaluate and report on universities' performance and potential in individual fields of study, such as AI and neurosciences, biomedical research, physical sciences, etc. This way, briefings by top industry professionals would complement the mere numerical data provided by the universities.

Andrei Volkov further noted that most international colleagues praised Project 5-100 for its high cost and time efficiency.

One measure of its effectiveness is arguably the growing number of Project 5-100 institutions listed in the most authoritative global university rankings, such as QS, THE and ARWU. According to Nadezhda Polikhina, acting director of Sociocenter (a Moscow based center for social studies) and head of the Project 5-100 Office, wh ere Russia has seen its representation improve most significantly is rankings by subject and composite faculty area.

This country is best represented in such fields as computer science, engineering and natural sciences, with Project 5-100 universities making up half of all Russian institutions ranked for these subjects, said Nadezhda Polikhina. 

The conference also looked at ways to promote educational-related exports and other educational products, strategic partnerships, digital education and global academic collaborations. In addition, attendees discussed youth policies; scientometric issues; approaches to analyzing global university subject rankings; and further transformation of the Russian higher education system.

Project 5-100 runs quarterly conferences primarily to help Russia’s top universities implement their competitiveness-enhancing programs by providing them with a platform for sharing experiences, studying success stories, analyzing performance and discussing current issues. These events are also intended to promulgate the expertise and best practices of leading Project 5-100 participants among other domestic universities.