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Russia takes action to encourage scientific research: What are the top 5 changes?

February 14, 2019

1.Simplify bureaucratic procedures in academia

Regulations and detailed procedures, ranging from purchasing office supplies and experimental materials to financial reports on grants, complicates researchers’ life.

According to Mikhail Kotyukov, Minister of Science and Higher Education, the ministry is intended to find effective ways to streamline the massive bureaucracy and is gradually changing the bureaucratic culture. He claims that approximately half of the procedures regarding general economic activities have already been simplified, the procedures related to research and organizational activities still have to follow.

“Starting new research means defending your topic, filling out endless forms, walking around with different documents, and writing reports,” Kotyukov said. “I believe that the Ministry and the Academy have to work together to reduce bureaucracy for the benefit of research.”

2.Billions will be invested in research

Russia needs breakthrough discoveries and innovation to ensure the competitiveness of national industries, to form a strong manufacturing base, to renew the country's transportation infrastructure, to introduce new technologies to the construction industry, and also to improve the environment and the quality of healthcare.

According to President Vladimir Putin, over 300 billion rubles ($4.5 billion) will be allocated for the national project“Science” over the course of the next six years, with financing reaching a total of 635 billion rubles (around $9 billion).

“It is extremely important to use these resources correctly,” said Putin. “We need to help strong research teams, scientists and engineers who are working in the most promising areas. We have to focus on critical development areas that are in line with national goals and the country’s strategy on scientific and technological development.”

3. Early career scientists to receive additional support

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova believes that the measures taken today to support young researchers and scientists are not enough. Thus to support them, the Russian government is developing additional measures.

“We understand that in order to increase the number of young scientists and researchers we need to create the necessary social infrastructure for them,” Golikova said. “And we are to take a cautious and decisive step to develop a wider range of measures to support young scientists and researchers”.

4. At least 50% of research equipment will be upgraded

Putin stressed the importance of focusing on equipment that can ensure technological breakthroughs, as well as having a very clear understanding of the results to be achieved with this equipment.

“It is very important that Russian research infrastructure become one of the world's best”, said Putin.

5. Postgraduate education system to witness major changes

The Russian government is planning to introduce amendments to existing legislation to make defending a thesis obligatory for postgraduate students. The Ministry of Science and Higher Education will present its proposals and recommendations to the government in the first trimester of 2019.

Aleksandr Sergeev, president of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, has also pointed out the need for postgraduate education reform.

“We have to reform our postgraduate education system to ensure its role as a first step in the development of a research career,” said Sergeev. “Thesis defense should be mandatory for postgraduate students. At the same time, the amount of mandatory teaching activities should be significantly reduced. Postgraduate students are future researchers, not teachers.”