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Regular version of the site

More Universities Participating in 5-100 Project

On October 19, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov took part in a meeting hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets at the Russian White House to discuss ways of improving the global competitiveness of Russian universities.

In opening the meeting, Golodets noted that many Russian universities have succeeded in advancing on global rankings. The government will continue to support universities given the progress they have already demonstrated. 

Russian Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov added that the main objective was to improve the work of Russian universities and increase their ability to compete with the world’s leading universities. This can be done by bringing in top researchers, ensuring internationalisation takes place, and improving schools’ academic reputation. Because of the excellent results the 5-100 Project has had, around a dozen more universities in Russia have joined the programme.

The meeting also saw the participation of rectors from universities that participate in the 5-100 project, and the keynote speaker was Yaroslav Kuzminov, who talked about the ways in which the structure and staff of the Higher School of Economics is improving.

Structural Renewal

So-called megafaculties were created at HSE to bring together sciences that are most closely connected to one another. This new structure makes it easier to search for areas of rapid progress at the interface of the sciences, and this is exactly how the world’s leading universities are developing as well, Kuzminov emphasized. The former faculties have schools, departments have been done away with, and ‘educational programmes’ now form the structural basis.

The number of articles HSE researchers published in journals on Scopus and the Web of Science has more than doubled since 2012, while the number of citations has tripled

The creation of the new and larger faculties with no departments began with the Faculty of Economic Sciences, which served as an example for the others. Only two departments – law and mathematics – maintained their ‘independence,’ the latter of which has close ties to a number of other faculties. The remaining departments have been combined.

Larger, market-oriented academic institutes have largely kept their autonomy, but the government’s presence in the structure of applied research developments has fallen considerably. The institutes have entered the market, and they now receive a high percentage of orders from Russian companies themselves.

Over the last five years, HSE has been turning its research endeavours into international laboratories and research divisions that are managed by a leading foreign researcher along with a representative of HSE’s academic community. One such laboratory is the Centre for Market Studies and Spatial Economics, which is headed by the Belgian researcher Jacques-François Thisse at the St. Petersburg campus. The number of articles HSE researchers published in journals on Scopus and the Web of Science has more than doubled since 2012, while the number of citations has tripled.

HSE has also begun creating centres for advanced studies, of which there are now two: one operates as part of the Centre for Market Studies and Spatial Economics, and the other is the Centre for Cognition & Decision Making. Created in January 2014, the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making now has 27 staff members, including seven foreigners and 11 PhDs, and three of the six group leaders are visiting professors. In little over a year’s timespan, Centre researchers published 37 articles in indexed scientific journals.

Staff Changes

According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, HSE now has a single contract that has long been standard practice in foreign universities. Any HSE employee who holds a research or teaching position has to conduct research, teach, and take part in organizational work to develop services for the university. This makes up around 10 percent of the employee’s time.

Russian universities are advancing on rankings very rapidly. HSE, for example, has improved on the QS Subject and Faculty rankings

The Higher School of Economics recruits at the international level, signing three-year contracts with 20-30 individuals each year. After this – depending on the employee's performance – the contract is either prolonged or terminated. Out of roughly 100 instructors hired from the international PhD market, around half do not speak Russian, which is why each faculty requires that every student, beginning their junior year, take subjects taught in English.

What Can Be Done?

Kuzminov believes that, excluding Moscow State University, the chances are low that Russian universities will make it to the list of the world’s top 100 schools by 2020; more time is needed. Nevertheless, Russian universities are advancing on such lists very rapidly. HSE, for example, has improved on the QS Subject and Faculty rankings, and among the 1,500 universities and research centres on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), HSE is ranked 108th by overall number of citations.

In order to achieve international excellence in the future, Kuzminov adds, Russian universities first need to participate in the implementation of international open-course platforms. HSE currently has 22 courses on the website Coursera, and of the 500,000 students participating, nearly 100,000 are U.S. residents.

Second, it is necessary to create a system of our own academic degrees and international graduate schools. On behalf o the Association of Global Universities, Kuzminov asked the government to allow the country’s leading universities to award their own academic degrees.

Lastly, Russian universities must resolve the problems associated with Russian academic journal. Publications and citations have a strong impact on how universities advance in global rankings, and unlike expert voting, this is an objective procedure. Kuzminov also proposed earmarking funds to promote Russian academic journals on Scopus and Web of Science. He emphasized that this work is beyond the capabilities of a single university and must be carried out collectively.

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