Higher education reforms to create 150 big universities

Up to 150 large, multi-profile universities will be established in Russia over the next several years, according to Alexander Klimov, deputy minister of education and science.

Klimov said in recent statements that the universities will focus on training specialists for high-tech, innovative and knowledge-intensive areas of the national economy, and will receive increased funding from the government.

The establishment of new universities is part of ongoing reform of the Russian national higher education system, which also involves merging existing universities into large, multi-profile institutions.

It is planned that each of these universities will specialise in a particular area and will be directly subordinated to a particular state agency or the federal ministry, such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Defence and others.

Institutions to close

According to Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov, by the beginning of 2016 the government plans to have closed the majority of inefficient universities that provide poor education. Parts of these institutions will be merged into the large, multi-profile universities.

Livanov believes that the planned closures will not lead to an increase in competition between remaining universities, since the number of secondary school graduates in Russia will decline from the current 5.5 million to 4.5 million people in the near future.

The process of universities’ consolidation will continue in Russia for several years, the minister said, and will be mainly due to demographic changes. It is expected that most of the universities that will close will be private higher education institutions.

Vladimir Zernov, chair of the association of non-state universities of Russia, said that since the beginning of this year more than 40 private universities have been closed and there is a possibility that this figure will reach 100 by the end of the current year.

Improving quality

According to the Ministry of Education and Science, successful implementation of its reform plans will reduce the overall number of institutions in Russia by 25% and raise the level of higher education.

It is planned that the new multi-profile universities will be established in each region of the country and will receive increased financial allocations from the state.

There is a possibility that some will participate in the ‘5-100’ state programme, which aims to increase the competitiveness of national universities in the international arena and get at least five Russian universities into the global top 100 in international university rankings by 2020.

At present around 15 universities are participating in the ‘5-100’ initiative – but there is a possibility that the number will significantly increase in the coming years.