Competitive Higher Education: Strategies, Trends and Transformations
Universities` competition depends on areas of influence chosen by contestants
First of all the participants of the press conference discussed the peculiarities of universities` strategies involved in competition in the field of higher education. The officials came to the point that it is incorrect to compare all universities without taking into account their unique missions. Furthermore all these strategies should be developed by universities as opposed to the government or higher education committees.
During the discussion Vladimir Vasilyev noted that at different periods of time universities had various targets and met different requirements. So-called universities of the first generation served only as educational providers. “Universitites 2.0” paid more attention to research activities. Currently higher education area sets the following goal such as aspiring for “university 3.0” concept which means that they should support science and also help researchers to commercialize their inventions. Moreover, currently some modern universities try to follow a new trend, they contribute to improvement of society`s life.
“All universities regardless of number of missions want to be competitive among international universities. Being involved in local competition universities try to demonstrate their strongest points such as specific fields and projects. So in this particular case one has to take into account amount of successful alumni,” said Vladimir Vasilyev.
Assess universities by graduates` success
According to Vladimir Pavlov, vice rector for studying of Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI,” the main goal of all universities is to prepare high-grade specialists valuable at employment market. On the one hand, four and even six years are not enough to prepare skilled researchers but, on the other hand, modern technologies develop quickly and students are not able to learn about all of them while studying. To avoid itis universities have to teach not only theoretical disciplines, but also provide internships.
“It is very important to support affiliated degree chairs, initiate joint activities together with companies both Russian and international. These activities have to be supported by internationalization facilities that help look for the best world`s educational programs and implement them in Russia,” commented on Andrey Rudskoy, rector of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.
The heads of St. Petersburg universities also noted that one has to assist children to find their favorite field when they study at school. They suppose that it is necessary to open more math and physics special schools because as Mr. Vasilyev noted, today these fields are not very popular with youth. Moreover, it would be better to give children an opportunity to immerge in university`s life smoothly by offering them to participate in various activities and to organizing “technical parks” and fab labs for children.
To change higher education`s structure and workforce capacity
Historically Russian universities tried to hire the best experts and professors to increase the quality of education. It made them more valuable among other representatives of academic community both locally and globally.
“Currently it is also up-to-date way to follow. For instance, National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University invite the best scientists from all over the worlds, which amounts about 50-60 per cent of all staff members. Thanks to this strategy it takes local universities only 10 years to reach the top-100 world`s universities,” noted Mr. Vasilyev.
According to statistics given by the rector of ITMO University, the amount of international lecturers invited to work at modern Russian universities is about 4-15 per cent of the total amount. Mr. Vasilyev also noted that participants of 5-100 project increase these numbers by hiring young specialists experienced in collaborating with colleagues from large research centers.
Andrey Rudskoy talked about one more novelty used by Russian universities. Currently so-called “module educational system” which is equivalent to credit system. It means that students follow intensive trainings led by overspecialized experts instead of professors that are versed in various fields. All these activities make Russian higher education more effective and competitive.