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Russia aiming to enter top 100 world university rankings



A very interesting article recently appeared highlighting the reforms which are being implemented in order to make Russian universities more competitive and allow them to enter the top 100 world university rankings by 2020.


The article is written by Oleg Alekseev who is a member of the Council on Global Competitiveness Enhancement of Russian Universities set up by the Russian Ministry for Education and Science. It consists of 12 members, six representing Russia and the other six representing the international academic community.


The so-called 5/100 initiative, aims to enable five Russian universities to enter the top 100 world university rankings by 2020.


The participating universities represent different regions: four are situated in Moscow, a city of over 12 million inhabitants; three in St Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia with more than five million inhabitants; two in Siberia, in Tomsk which has nearly 0.6 million people and Novosibirsk which has over 1.5 million; one in Kazan (1.2 million people); one in Samara (also 1.2 million); one in Ekaterinburg (1.4 million inhabitants); one in Nizhny Novgorod (nearly 1.3 million people); and one in Vladivostok (nearly 0.6 million).


Each of these cities has its own academic environment; they also differ in terms of living standards and appeal. There are three federal universities and 11 national research universities among them.


Oleg Alekseev tried to analyze the steps which have been taken so far to achieve this goal and bridge the gap between Russian universities and global leaders.


Higher education reform has already been going on for 10 years and during this time there has been some major changes.


First of all, a number of federal universities – a kind of ‘umbrella organisation’ for regional higher education – were created, while some institutions were given national research university status.


Also the government announced new academic mobility grants, particularly targeting leading foreign researchers to bring them to Russia. As a result, famous scientists of Russian origin and internationally acknowledged, oft-cited foreigners started coming to Russia. Thus higher education in the country began to move towards internationalisation.


Moreover, a number of universities launched innovative research projects in partnership with industry, opened their first research and development, or R&D, departments sponsored by commercial organisations, started deeper integration with Russian Academy of Sciences research institutes, and established new laboratories for fundamental and applied research.


Many universities now have cutting edge centres and amazing labs. They also pay much more attention to foreign languages so that lectures by foreign professors can be given in English. More and more universities now have supervisory boards presided over by influential members of society and have started building endowments.


This is how the project is carried out:


• Stage 1. July 2013. Participating universities were selected on a competitive basis.

• Stage 2. October 2013. Each university works on its roadmap for development.

• Stage 3. December 2013. Roadmap implementation starts; performance evaluation will follow – to be done annually in the 2014-18 period – and may result in roadmap amendments.




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