• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

‘We Are Competing for the Best Scholars and We Don’t Want Our New Colleagues to Rest on Their Heels’

HSE Library at Pokrovka

HSE Library at Pokrovka
© HSE University

At the meeting of the Rector’s Council on June 23, seven issues were considered, including the vaccination of staff and students, postgraduate and dissertation councils, the development of a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme at the University, and the HSE library. Members of the Rector’s Council additionally discussed the regulations on the organisation of training concerning MicroDegree-granting programmes.

Vaccination of Employees and Students

According to Vadim Radaev, First Vice Rector of HSE University, the Council of Rectors of universities in Moscow and the Moscow Region has established a commission that finalises employee and student vaccination documents, explains these documents, and interacts with the authorities on vaccination issues. The commission considers the achievements of HSE University ‘a model story for other universities’. For example, a standard order with regard to the vaccination of University employees was prepared by the commission on the basis of HSE University’s order.

Elena Kakabadze

The vaccination campaign continues at HSE University. Elena Kakabadze, HSE University Director for Social Benefits, said that as of June 23, 2,244 employees had been vaccinated (they have attached vaccination certificates to their personal accounts), and over the last five days of the second vaccination campaign, 592 people at the University have been vaccinated, including 342 students. For the next 17 days, 1,416 people have signed up. By July 15, the contingent of vaccinated HSE University employees should reach 60%; as of today, this figure has slightly exceeded 30%.

Yaroslav Kuzminov, Rector of HSE University, invited heads of departments to submit their employees’ vaccination schedules and also recommended they conduct some explanatory work.

Performance of the Postgraduate and Dissertation Councils in 2020

According to Sergey Roshchin, Vice Rector of HSE University, the number of doctoral students at HSE University is growing every year and now stands at 1,220. 207 of them are enrolled in advanced doctoral studies, and their quality has grown: there were 54 postgraduate defences in 2020. Sergey Roshchin reported that the recruitment of Master's students for the joint Master's – PhD programme has been completed, and his meeting with them made a positive impression on him.

Sergey Roshchin

Vadim Radaev said that the total number of defences in the University's dissertation councils rose to 71 in 2020 (from 61 in 2019 and 56 in 2018) mainly due to doctoral dissertations (up almost threefold).

A system of incentives for the preparation and defence of doctoral degrees by HSE University staff has been introduced, including sabbatical leave of up to a year and a personal allowance of up to three years

Dissertation councils for art history and design, media and communications have been established.

According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, given that postgraduate education is no longer considered an educational activity, the responsibility for postgraduate training will eventually fall to the heads of academic departments. The role of postgraduate schools as a management tool will be reviewed, and they may have to be abolished. Additional positive and negative incentives for academic managers should be created, the single track Master's – PhD programme should be continuously expanded, and by 2025 it should amount to half of graduate student admissions.

Academic Staff Professional Development

According to Vadim Radaev, the average proportion of academic staff with PhD and doctoral degrees remains relatively stable at around 66% (excluding PhD holders), with higher figures on the campuses of Nizhny Novgorod and Perm. A large proportion of those without a degree are young employees, including instructors who are Master’s or PhD students, practitioners, and methodologists.

Vadim Radaev

A number of measures have already been taken to help academic staff increase their credentials: the inclusion of defences in the performance indicators of international laboratories, incentives for those defending doctorates, the introduction of a single track, and more. Vadim Radaev named additional measures, including preferential hiring of employees with academic degrees, sabbatical leave, expansion of the list of scientific journals taken into account for defence in certain areas (such as in law or design), and the introduction of professional degrees.

Yaroslav Kuzminov supported these proposals, stressing that with a thesis almost ready, a person can be sent on leave for 3–6 months or their workload can be drastically reduced. To enable this, a fund can be created to provide support to units where there are students whose theses are close to completion. If a unit takes such a small grant and the student does not proceed to a thesis defence, the unit is held responsible. The Rector also stressed the importance of involving previous graduates in the University's work — ‘the viability of our teaching’ depends on it, and it is necessary to ensure that young teachers at the University are not ‘bogged down’, that they are not overwhelmed by a tidal wave of educational obligations.

Elective Component Regulations for Core Programmes

According to Sergey Roshchin, ‘we continue to move towards a model with a significant portion of individual educational trajectories at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.’ The general logic behind the changes in the current version of the regulations is, first, to adapt it to the new educational standards and e-systems and, second, to update the process descriptions and terminology.

When choosing a course, students have access to a course description, timetable, and — if available — prerequisites with which they are required to familiarise themselves. Yaroslav Kuzminov suggested adding an option to the electronic system that would allow students to take basic tests immediately to confirm that they satisfy the prerequisites. He also stressed that if a student chooses educational elements beyond the scope defined by their educational programme, this is a paid service and the system should include a payment option.

Higher Education Academic Regulations

According to the Law on Education in the Russian Federation, a university may offer students and external students a part of the educational programme, i.e. 'additional modules'. The regulation describes two types of additional modules — non-degree granting (e.g. Minors) and those that grant MicroDegrees, which implies assessment and project presentation in the chosen field.

Yaroslav Kuzminov

Yaroslav Kuzminov noted that graduates who receive a MicroDegree from a leading University will increase their competitiveness in the labour market. In his opinion, it is necessary to propose a mechanism to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation for integrating MicroDegrees into the educational programmes of other universities, determining their weight for credit.

You will make your job a lot easier once you tell yourself that a MicroDegree is 20-25 credits, is counted in a certain manner, and gives such-and-such competencies

Developing a CPD System for HSE University staff

‘On the one hand, we are competing for the best people, on the other hand, we want the colleagues we have attracted not to rest on their heels, but to have the opportunity to accumulate and develop their competencies,’ said Vadim Radaev. ‘The University is undergoing intensive digitalisation, and the requirements, including basic ones for all our employees, are changing dramatically. We also, of course, have to think about increasing the availability of CPD programmes and changing their nature.’

The main areas of developing the CPD system at HSE University in the near future include the implementation of a basic standard of professional competencies for University employees. The standard is aimed at providing all employees with a set of minimum general competencies, constant individualisation of professional development, and development of new areas — such as digital literacy for working with modern services and tools, skills in working with modern computer hardware, and latest generation application software and cyber security.

As Yaroslav Kuzminov pointed out, the situation with professional development is not entirely satisfactory — it is poorly targeted, there is insufficient coverage. Less than 10% of teachers upgrade their qualifications every year, implying that a person upgrades his/her qualification once every 10–12 years; meaning this is either abnormal, or we are not taking something relevant into account. According to the Rector, it is necessary to upgrade qualifications in areas such as teaching and assessment methods, digital competencies, academic writing, time management (‘it is useful for self-organisation’), and, in view of the University's transition to a project-based curriculum, it is useful for every teacher to understand what a project is.

Main Areas of Development of the HSE Library

HSE University’s library today comprises 600,000 titles, electronic subscriptions to 56 platforms with information resources, and units in nine academic buildings. One of the trends of recent years is a sharp decline in the demand for printed academic literature, and it has accelerated due to the transition to distance learning. At the same time, there is a growing demand for rare, highly specialised academic publications available exclusively in printed form.

Natalia Maximova

According to Natalia Maximova, Director of HSE Library, there are plans to preserve the dual-format environment, but today, what matters is not how many books are kept in the library collections, but to what resources the library provides access. At the same time, the library will be seen as a space to work in, despite the increase in the number of online services. Digitalisation with a shift of focus towards electronic resources does not reduce acquisition costs — electronic sources often cost considerably more than printed ones.

Yaroslav Kuzminov, in turn, emphasised that library resources are ‘the building blocks of our education’, that the future of the library is co-working, and instructed that it should be interfaced with LMS and other University services.