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Regular version of the site

Converting Russia’s Educational Potential into Capital

At ‘Crossroads and Prospects for the Development of Russian Education’, a special session held as part of the XVIII April Conference, experts discussed the section related to education from a recent report on the strategy of Russia’s development by the Centre for Strategic Research. Since investments in education have an effect after 15-20 years, participants analyzed development prospects up to 2035.

The main goal of the strategy is to accelerate economic growth as a way to ensure public well-being. Problem areas, including education, are discussed in the context of this goal, said HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov.

Today, Russia is losing about 10-12% of GDP, as the education system does not provide people with a full set of required competencies, about 25% of students do not comprehend core concepts in mathematics, natural and social sciences, or the humanities. Their employment and career prospects are deteriorating, they find it difficult to adapt to work and earn little. However, the situation is not hopeless: the experience of several countries shows that significant reductions can be made in the number of unsuccessful students, believes Kuzminov. For instance, Finland succeeded in reducing this number to 5-7%.

Our advantages

Isak Frumin, Academic Supervisor of HSE Institute of Education, says that ‘we live in an educating society’ — there is a good foundation for future development in Russian education.  Universal access to preschool education for children aged 3 to 7 years is guaranteed, and the number of schools requiring major repairs has decreased. Furthermore, Russia has also made a breakthrough in the PISA — an international study of education quality — with the country’s results in reading and mathematics being comparable with the average results across the OECD. The difference in the average salary of university graduates with all the others in Russia is one of the largest in Europe. Previously only Moscow State University was in the top 100 in global subject rakings, but now a dozen more universities have also joined the list.

At the same time, Russia is not rich. As Yaroslav Kuzminov stresses, we are ahead of other countries in our income group in terms of education development, since this resource can be compared with oil in recent years. The main problem now is how to turn this potential into capital, said Froumin. Current education financing does not provide the conditions for development. Russia lags behind all the countries it competes with by percentage of GDP on education, and expenditures on education in the consolidated budget have reduced since 2013.

Our problems

The share of the students who cannot cope with general education programmes continue their studies in technical colleges where the quality of education that gives them functional literacy is very low; these colleges have no support programmes for these students, as is the case in Finland, for example. No one has tried to solve this problem in Russia. While general education has been purposefully improved in schools, almost half of the students obtain it in colleges. Differences in the education outcomes in families with different social statuses are increasing, as children from certain social classes concentrate in certain schools. Poverty and low social mobility, which are dangerous for the country’s social stability, are increasing.

The so called ‘new literacy’ (financial, medical, legal), which wasn’t necessary 20-30 years ago, hasn’t yet been formed in schools, colleges and universities. The formation of key competencies of the 21st century (teamwork, problem solving, project activities, etc.) is not a target function of general and higher education. Motivation and interest in learning are falling, despite the fact that motivated study is a main driver of success and a prerequisite for initiative among the population. Continuing education in Russia is not mandatory, and the level of skills upgrading among the adult population in Russia is three times lower than in competitor countries. Graduates are not only unprepared to make innovations, but they are also unable to quickly assess and develop innovations by others.

Thus, considering the advantages of Russian education and the elimination of the problems identified, we will have to understand how to enhance the contribution that education makes to economic growth and technological modernization, how to apply it to ensuring social mobility and stability, and to enhancing Russia’s global influence.

See also:

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The HSE Centre for Studies of Income and Living Standards studied the dynamics of the middle class and its behaviour with regard to paid services. The study was based on data drawn from the HSE Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) for the years 2000 to 2017, and the results were presented at the 20th April International Academic Conference hosted by HSE.

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Live Long There and Prosper: How Internal Migration from Small Towns Works

More than half of school graduates in medium-sized Russian cities will change their place of residence either forever or at least for a long time. According a report on internal migration presented by HSE demographers at the XX April International Academic Conference, these people are lost to their cities.

What Drives Innovation in Russian Companies

As part of the Management session of the XX April International Conference, Carl F. Fey from Aalto University School of Business, Finland, presented his paper on Facilitating Innovation in Companies in Russia: The Role of Organizational Culture. In his talk, Professor Fey spoke about the results of three studies he has been conducting with his team.

‘In a Digital Environment, the Role of Human Teachers Only Becomes More Important’

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Dr. Dorothy Espelage (University of Florida) presented a comprehensive account of her research into youth bullying spanning more than two decades in an invited paper ‘Prevention & Intervention of Youth Bullying and other Forms of Youth Aggression: Research Informed Strategies’ at the XX April International Academic Conference.

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The role of regional and industrial institutions of higher education in achieving national development goals must increase, and leading universities will help them. This was the conclusion reached by participants of the plenary session on Russian higher education that took place as part of the XX April International Academic Conference.

How to Boost Russian Food Exports

The plenary session ‘Strategy of Russian Presence at Global Food Markets’ took place as part of HSE University’s XX April International Academic Conference, where participants discussed the prospects for Russian agricultural exports to Asia, as well as the use of nonconventional investment models, such as Islamic financial tools.

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National objectives for social development, as well as existing risks and opportunities in implementing these objectives were discussed by participants of HSE International April Conference.