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Regular version of the site

In pursuing research achievements, universities should not forget about their students

On May 15-17, the 2nd SERU Consortium (Student experience in the research university) conference took place at the HSE. It was devoted to problems concerning the educational milieu of contemporary research universities.

The SERU Consortium, founded in 2008, currently brings together several dozen large universities in western Europe, the U.S., Brazil, China, South Africa and Russia. The Higher School of Economics is Russia’s only member of the consortium.

The consortium’s first conference took place in Berkeley, and it was decided to hold the second one outside the U.S. — in Moscow. The HSE’s Institute of Education and Centre of Institutional Monitoring along with the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California — Berkeley and the company i-graduate acted as conference organizers. According to John Douglass, Senior Research Fellow at the University of California — Berkeley and director of the programming committee, the HSE was chosen as a platform for this meeting given its active participation in research conducted by the entire consortium. SERU also has an interest in cooperating with Russian universities and hopes to find new partners with the help of the HSE.

More than 60 individuals from Russia, Brazil, India, China, South Africa, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S., Chile and Japan took part in the second conference. The main topic was the development of research universities in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Additionally, topics like changing the education systems in BRICS countries, attracting students to research work, the role of modern technology in university education, the needs of Master’s and postgraduate students, and numerous others were discussed at the conference.

Igor Chirikov, Academic Supervisor of the Centre of Institutional Monitoring, believes that higher education in the BRICS countries faces similar challenges, the most significant of which has been the explosive growth in the number of students. Another important problem is the search for institutional solutions to increase student motivation with respect to learning. Isak Froumin, Academic Supervisor at the Institute of Education, believes that the research university should not only give students a profession, but should also help them find their calling.

One of the peculiarities of the 2nd SERU Consortium conference was a discussion in which students took part. SERU’s motto is "Every Student Has A Voice. Every Voice Is Heard.” Organizers therefore decided to make this part of the rules. The Higher School of Economics and the University of California — Berkeley reached an agreement on a closer partnership that foresees involvement of HSE representatives in the SERU Consortium’s management, coordination of its work, and organizing comparative inter-institutional research. This is one of many steps in the direction of greater international involvement for the university.

Ekaterina Rylko, specially for the HSE news service

Photos by Daria Drozhzhina

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