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Regular version of the site

What Country is the Best for Professors?

On October 23rd 2012, the latest in a series of regular seminars ‘Topical research and development in education’ took place at the HSE Institute for Educational Studies. Martin Finkelstein, Professor at Seton Hall University (USA), spoke on ‘How the national context influences professors’ academic achievements and careers: a comparative analysis’.

Maria Yudkevich, Vice Rector of the HSE and Director of the HSE Center for Institutional Studies, introduced Martin Finkelstein as one of the leading US economists studying academic work environments and academic careers. He is one of the participants of the ‘Academic Salaries in 28 Countries across the World’ project, which the Higher School of Economics is also involved in.

The researchers tried to evaluate professors’ salaries and contracts in various academic systems around the world. Not only were official salaries taken into account, but also other benefits, including bonuses for medical aid, money earned from private classes, and bribes from prospective students. According to Maria Yudkevich, in terms of living standards for professors, Russia is second from bottom among the 28 countries researched.

However, during his seminar Martin Finkelstein focused not on data and the conclusions drawn from the study, but on the general conceptual framework of the project, which allowed his team to compare career trajectories in different academic systems. Different countries have different conditions for professors, as well as different academic disciplines and academic institutions. It is possible to compare national academic contexts in two ways: first, through career structure, which includes getting an academic position, career growth and further opportunities, and second, though working conditions and the structure of incentives offered by academic contracts.

The speaker outlined five key models for the organization and structure of academic work: European, North American, Latin American, Russian-Chinese, and hybrid.

At the end of his speech, Martin Finkelstein revealed some of the researchers’ plans for further study. In particular, they plan to carry out a large-scale study comparing the profiles of countries on the basis of selected indicators, to compare these profiles and to try and unite them in clusters. ‘A more precise classification of national contexts will allow us to create multi-variant models, on the basis of which we shall be able to evaluate the shaping influence of these contexts on academic work and professional academic sphere as a whole’, the speaker said.

Participants of the seminar included Evgeniy Knyazev, Director of the HSE Center for University Management, Olga Mashkina, Deputy Dean of the Pedagogical Department at the Lomonosov Moscow State Unviersity, and Tatiana Abanikna, Director of the Center for Applied Economic Studies at HSE Institute for Educational Studies (IES).

Summarizing the seminar, Irina Abankina, Director of the IES, emphasized the importance of efforts to create theoretical models of academic systems: ‘The researchers have managed to outline the key parameters differentiating one model of national academic context from another according to their internal organization’.

Alina Ivanova, specially for the HSE News Service

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