Employers to monitor efficiency in universities

Russia’s government plans to more actively connect employers to the activities of national universities, in accordance with a special resolution signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Employers will be involved in the process of monitoring efficiency at national universities and the formation of admission quotas for state-funded places.

The recently signed resolution will come into force next year, after the start of a new Ministry of Education initiative to monitor the efficiency of national universities.

It is planned that employers will be given the right to reject decisions by the ministry regarding levels of efficiency in individual universities – inefficient institutions will be reorganised or closed – so long as satisfactory arguments are provided.

They will also have the right to introduce legislative initiatives in higher education.

According to a ministry official, the need for highly qualified personnel should be identified in relation to the requirements of the economy and the demand for specialists in specific areas. One way to achieve this could be to attract employers to the higher education sector.

Employers will also be involved in revising the list of professions, specialisms and courses at universities.

Positive responses

According to the Russian business paper Izvestia, the new proposal is timely and important.

Irina Abankina, director of the education development institute at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, commented: “Indeed, it is necessary to attract employers for monitoring the efficiency of national universities. Today our system of university speciality is no longer efficient. Now we are talking about fundamental change of the concept.

“We are moving to a two-tier system of higher education and moving away from the outdated concept of training for specialties.”

According to Abankina, specialities will remain only at the second masters level in Russian universities in future.

Analysts at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs – one of the country’s largest business communities – also welcomed the new state initiative.

They said there was a need to achieve closer interaction between employers and higher education, as Russian business is experiencing shortages of skilled personnel.

The Ministry of Education believes Medvedev’s proposal will widen cooperation between employers and universities, which until now has been limited to personal agreements between them – especially when the business sector opens specialised departments in universities to conduct training for their own projects.

According to the Russian Union of Students, in 2012 the biggest demand from employers was for graduates of institutions such as Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Finance Academy, State University of Management, Ural State Technical University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow Power Engineering Institute and Ivanovo State Power University.