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Best Prospective Students Go to Medical Universities, and Engineering is still out of Fashion

On October 29th, 2014, Alexander Klimov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Russia, Alexander Biserov, Deputy Head of Rosobrnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Science and Education), and HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov, presented the annual monitoring of the quality of enrolment in Russian higher education institutions. The project was carried out by the Higher School of Economics and the Ministry of Education and Science in partnership with Rossiya Segodnya, an international news agency, and the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. Below are some conclusions of the study.

Conclusion 1: the problem of transparency of enrolment is no longer relevant

When in 2010 the Higher School of Economics, together with RIA Novosti, started to monitor the quality of enrolment in universities, they gathered open data from the websites of institutions (they were obliged to publish the data by law), and this also functioned as a way to monitor the transparency of the  enrolment process. As a result of this work, thanks to the effort made by the Ministry of Education and Science and Rosobrnadzor, they managed to ‘educate’ the universities. Both last and this year, all the documents on the results of enrolment were properly published on all websites.

Conclusion 2: a second engineering university entered Top 10

Compared to 2013, MGIMO, MIPT, St. Petersburg State University, HSE, and Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University all remained in the top 10. For the first time, the top 10 included the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University (RNRMU), and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).

According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, the fact that MEPhI entered the top 10 is especially important: now the list of universities with the highest-rated enrolment quality includes two technical universities.

Top 10: enrolment in state-funded places in 2014 (institutions that enrolled over 300 students)

 University Average USE grade per one subject
 1 Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) 92.6
 2 Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) 92.2
 3 Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University 86.7
 4 St. Petersburg State University 86.4
 5 National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow 86.0
 6 Lomonosov Moscow State University 84.8
 7 National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Moscow 83.7
 8 Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Moscow 82.5
 9 Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow 82.4
 10 Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow 82.4

Conclusion 3: best prospective students go to Moscow and St. Petersburg

Moscow and St. Petersburg universities take the leading positions in terms of enrolment quality, and this is a serious problem.

For example, among the 13 technical universities with an average USE grade over 70 only one is located outside of the two main cities in Russia, although technical universities in regional cities include obvious market leaders. It is virtually impossible to find a job in some technical areas in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but prospective students still prefer to go there. And this corresponds neither with their personal interests, nor with the needs of the economy.

Conclusion 4: health care, socio-economic sciences and humanities lead in the quality of enrolment

Healthcare is the only area outside social sciences and humanities with an average grade of over 70, the remaining areas with high grades are socio-economic sciences and the humanities. The average USE grade is over 70 in 75 medical universities, and this is a sign that the medical profession is highly respected in society.

Conclusion 5: ‘life sciences’ are not popular among prospective students

According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, this is a serious problem, which is still relevant in Russia. The quality of enrolment in areas related to ‘life sciences’ – natural, technological, and others, – remains poor, and this is cause for alarm. There are only three areas connected with the country’s technological development, Oil & Gas, Chemistry, and Nuclear Physics and Technology, that have an average grade of between 60 and 70.

Conclusion 6: the situation in agricultural education is catastrophic

Universities enrolled about 16,000 students into ‘Agriculture and Fishery’ this year in state-funded places. This is an extremely important area, but 79% of the enrolled applicants are students with mediocre grades.

Conclusion 7: most of engineering universities are also forced to enroll mediocre students

In some universities, the number of state-funded places in engineering (technology) areas is too big, and they also enroll students with mediocre results, with marks of 35-40 in the USE in their specialist subjects. High schools don’t provide enough graduates who have high grades in physics, mathematics, and chemistry, and are ready to become engineers.

Conclusion 8: prospective students avoid areas related to physical work

The number of universities enrolling students with mediocre grades is very high in such fields as Geology, Forestry or Water Transport Management. According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, prospective students with better grades prefer specializations that do not involve physical work.

Conclusion 9: fee-paying students prefer areas with high quality of enrolment in state-funded places

The most popular fields among fee-paying students include Economics (chosen by 32,000 fee-paying students), Management (20,000 students) and Healthcare (15,500). Their preferences are strongly geared towards socio-economic areas and the humanities. While experts in information and computer sciences are in high demand on the market, only 2,500 students were enrolled in this area, and the same number of students chose Business Informatics.

Conclusion 10: it is unreasonable to distribute state-funded places among universities that enroll mediocre students

In such areas as Management, Economics, Mathematics, and some others, there are some universities that enroll very weak students in state-funded places. For example, it is virtually impossible to make a good mathematician from a student who got average USE grade of 50.

Alexander Klimov suggested a solution for this problem. A new law ‘On Education in the Russian Federation’ allows universities to organize cooperative networks, which means that a university in a region that needs staff for the local industry can open a joint programme with a university from the top 30. This leads to the possibility that such a programme would be able to enroll students with higher USE grades and their graduates would stay to work in the region.

Boris Startsev, specially for the HSE News Service

See also:

Quality of Enrolment in Russian Universities in 2022: Key Findings

HSE University, with the support of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, presented the results of a programme to monitor the quality of enrolment in state-funded and fee-based places at Russian universities in 2022. The study was carried out at the HSE Institute of Education under the supervision of Yaroslav Kuzminov, HSE University Academic Supervisor.

Quality of Enrolment in Technical Universities has Grown Considerably

On September 3, 2015, Dmitry Livanov, Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov, and Alexander Biserov, Deputy Head of Rosobrnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Science and Education) presented the annual monitoring of the quality of enrolment in the state-funded places of Russian universities in 2015 at Rossiya Segodnya IIA (International Information Agency). Among the top ten universities in terms of enrolment quality, HSE took third place and HSE campus in St. Petersburg took eighth.


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