Education reform will require more than a change in the structure of universities and training of professors; even consolidating the ties between university teaching and research institutions will not be enough. A great deal more is necessary if the country’s university education system is to promote Russia’s effective development and its stature among leading world powers. Such a higher education system will require nothing short of a modernizing shift in the mindset of the Russian people and in their value system. One cannot be separated from the other, however: a shift in the Russian world outlook is impossible without education reform.
The Five Pillars of a New University
Most of the educational community agrees (or has resigned itself to the conclusion) that the usual model of a university has run its course. This concerns not just the Soviet university model, but also the crisis of the previous, idealized notions of how a modern (read, “Western”) university should be structured. These notions, at least on the European Continent, were based on the principles of the Humboldt University as a center of universal knowledge. It is precisely these principles that today require a fundamental rethinking.
Russia’s Flagship Universities
Igor Fediukin and Isak Froumin
The long overdue reform of Russia’s system of higher education is blocked in large measure by the resistance of the academic community, which is interested in maintaining the status quo. Russia is not unique in this regard: attempts by the state, as the largest stakeholder, to “shake up” insufficiently competitive universities always and everywhere faces resistance from those within the universities and the public opinion that they are able to mobilize. Russia’s project of creating federal and national research universities may, to an extent, facilitate a change to the rules of the game in higher education, but it thus far does not include any contemporary development mechanisms.
Quality or a Diploma?
A “good” education in Russia’s contemporary social system does not solve the issue of employment, with the result that the most qualified individuals often cannot find a reasonable place on the labor market and in the social structure of society. They accumulate dissatisfaction with themselves and their social and cultural resources. It is indicative that it is precisely within this subgroup, more than in the population at large, that individuals most acutely feel not only their own insufficient ability to do what they want, but also their limited ability to purposefully and effectively influence the situation around them – in other words, the deficit of political, civic and other rights.
Learning to Innovate in Russia and China
China and Russia face daunting problems in their efforts to compete in an increasingly crowded global innovation race. Their challenges are both similar and different. China must continue its uphill climb even as returns become harder to achieve. It must resist the temptation to revert to nationalist approaches. And it must permit greater intellectual and information freedom, which could threaten the CCP’s political monopoly. Russia must do all of these things, but to even begin to confront the problem it must improve institutional performance by creating incentive structures that change the behavior of academic and bureaucratic elites.
Russian Higher Education: A Comparison With the United States
Today’s Russia has set itself the goal of modernizing its system of higher education and bringing it into line with constantly changing international norms, first and foremost American standards. In this article, the author, who has years of experience in both American and Russian higher education, presents his view on the plusses and minuses of both, evaluates the ways and means of financing universities, and attempts to discern the aims and goals of the national research institutions and universities that are to play an increasingly major role in the development and modernization of education.
Stabilization Without Modernization
Many of the problems of the crisis have been “drowned” in money from the budget, postponing their ultimate resolution. The result is a temporary stabilization without modernization. The crisis could not overcome the institutional barriers to increasing the quality of governance. However, this conclusion cannot be applied to all of Russia’s regions: some of them, though not many, began earlier and more quickly to adapt to harder constraints, creating the conditions for modernization.
The Party of Power’s Feet of Clay
Regardless of the state of the economy and fluctuations in standards of living, United Russia has only limited capability to control municipal governance. No degree of institutional creativity will bring any significant change, unless they go so far as to eliminate even the appearance of political competition, making elections fully uncontested. The architects of Russia’s current system of power are unlikely to go that far.
Book Review: A Little War that Shook the World
Thomas de Waal
Book Review: The Life and Times of the Shah
Konstantin von Eggert