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Russian Universities and Their Industry Partners to Employ More Students During Pandemic

April 15, 2020

With shopping mall and grocery store, coffee shop and restaurant closed for business and other coronavirus restrictions in place, students are struggling to keep their jobs and income. Russia's Minister for Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov believes that, in these hard times, it is up to universities to employ their own students.

 Universities are beginning to embrace this idea. Some are offering students work as call center operators, support technicians, cleaning personnel, analysts or assistants to elderly faculty and staff members. The Global Universities Association, which brings together Project 5-100 institutions, has recently hosted an expert seminar on balancing study and work that discussed ways and means for setting universities up as student employers.

 Here, Tomsk State University (TSU), a Project 5-100 institution, has been a pioneer. Its Uniprofi online job exchange currently offers access to some 200 vacancies with the university and its industry partners. TSU Rector Eduard Galazhinsky says that, with self-isolation restricting mobility, the database features mostly remote jobs, such as survey researchers, digital archive operators or data analysts. Students can also volunteer as helpers to at-risk senior-age faculty and staff who are under stay-at-home orders. In total, the university has openings in more than 100 occupational areas that it is ready to make available to its students. It seeks to place them in jobs that match their field of study, while consulting their personal preferences.   

 Two Project 5-100 universities, Far East Federal University (FEFU) and Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (IKBFU), have been selected to oversee student placement programs for their    entire home regions.

 IKBFU is rolling out a pilot project and has already built up a bank of some 200 job vacancies, 90% of them remote. They span a variety of occupations, making it easy for students to find one to suit their field of interest. For now, the jobs being offered are with IKBFU itself but plans are afoot to engage local businesses in this initiative.

 FEFU's pilot is also up and running, with vacancies ranging from document controller and call center operator to microservice developer to courier and school club leader.

 Russian recruitment agencies have agreed to collaborate with the universities by helping place students in jobs with no prior experience required. If successful, this scheme could be upscaled across this country's higher learning institutions.

 Valery Falkov is calling upon universities to maintain and strengthen their social commitment in a pandemic. The Ministry for Science and Higher Education has worked together with them to design student support measures under which academic institutions will provide employment to their own students. Major regional industry partners are also getting on board with the placement program. Valery Falkov expects a countrywide student job bank to be launched soon.