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Regular version of the site

‘We Need to Talk’

On November 21st, meetings of three working commissions of the Leading Russian HEIs in Economics and Management Association took place at the HSE – on the quality and audit of educational programmes, on staff problems and on experience exchange. Sergey Roshchin, Vice Rector of the HSE, told us more about the Association’s working groups.

— Please tell us more about the Association, its aims and the work of its commissions.

— The Association’s inaugaral meeting, which defined the areas of its activity, took place at the HSE in September. Working groups, or commissions, were then formed in line with two principles. The first principle is that of subject-oriented commissions, related to specific subject areas of economics and administration, such as economic theory, management, applied economic, finance etc. The second principle is that there should be commissions concerned with functional problems. Today there are 21 commissions in the Association.

The Association should not affect the overall principles of evaluation suggested by governmental bodies, such as Rosobrnadzor (Federal Service for Control in Education and Science), but rather, can and must create an understanding of professional measurement tools in terms of their quality. The key approaches and principles for creating such an evaluation system were discussed at the meeting of the commission on quality evaluation and auditing of educational programmes. We have agreed that at the next meeting, due to be held in December, we shall discuss the experience of applying specific tools in different universities, including the HSE. Such systems include, for example, the AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Outcomes) project, which has been implemented by the RF Ministry of Education and Science together with the HSE in various universities and has received positive feedback.

One of the problems of accreditation in higher education is the lack of transparency and clarity of the tools used. We discussed the idea of creating certification centers as part of the Association, aimed at approving the control and measurement tools used in various education quality evaluation systems. The Association is ready to invest in this work, and to guarantee the quality of tools through its title or the titles of its member universities. We also discussed the idea of creating a pool of experts who could participate in such work.

I’d particularly like to mention the first session of the working commission on applied economics. One of the problems of economic education in Russia is that there is a certain gap between the concepts of development in contemporary economic knowledge and real economic processes. There is a tendency for the man in the street, and sometimes even professionals to think that ‘pure theoreticians’ write formulas and speculate on something unrelated to real life, and ‘live practice’ demands different technology and specific answers largely related to political measures or administrative solutions on the corporate level. Partly, the reason for this situation is that economic education has not yet fully included the area of applied economics – an important sector of contemporary economic knowledge and practice which allows the empirical analysis of many problems and processes. Applied economics brings together a conceptual vision, process analysis tools, primarily qualitative, and econometrical, and the analysis of real, existing problems. And moving in this direction, by improving the quality of teaching in applied economics, will allow us to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and real processes.

— Which representatives of the professional community participate in the work of the commissions?

— Almost all member universities in the Association are active in the work of commissions, both in the preparation of sessions and in discussions. Many of our colleagues have come to Moscow specifically to participate.

Participants include the deans, vice rectors and rectors of leading Russian universities. For example, Viktor Koksharov, Rector of the Urals Federal University, co-chairs the Commission on the quality evaluation of educational programmes, and Viktor Grishin, Rector of the Plekhanov Russian Economic University, co-chairs the Commission on experience exchange.

Практически все университеты, вошедшие в ассоциацию, проявляют активность в работе комиссий — и на уровне подготовки заседаний, и в обсуждениях. Многие коллеги ради участия в заседаниях специально прилетели в Москву. Other active participants include our colleagues from the Financial University, Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Service, Siberia Federal University, Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance, Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics, Moscow State University Department of Economics, etc. The Association’s website will be launched soon.

— Why are our colleagues so interested in the work of the Association?

— All our colleagues represent successful universities, they are very busy people who have to solve many problems of their own, but they have all found time for this dialogue because they understand that swapping experiences is both useful and necessary in order to solve shared problems in economic and managerial education. Many existing quality standards are vague, and there are a lot of HEIs on the market which offer low-quality education. University representatives understand that it is important to create benchmarks for the educational market for prospective students, their parents and employers, and to demonstrate the real value of a modern education.

Such a structure is an example of horizontal self-organization in higher education, and in that sense, is normal practice. The Leading Russian HEIs Association successfully works, acts as an expert community for many initiatives in the RF Ministry of Education and Science and offers many initiatives itself.

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