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Academic profession in Russia in an international context: academic contracts, norms and governance structures

Priority areas of development: economics
Department: International Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms (LIA)

This study investigates the incentives of the different economic agents in the market of higher education: universities, teachers, students.      

Goal of research: The aim of this study is to analyze the characteristics of academic profession in an international (cross-country) perspective, namely to conduct a comparative study of the activities of young faculty in different countries, to analyze the commitment, academic inbreeding and mobility, stress and job satisfaction among Russian faculty. Control in academia and its impact on the incentives and behavior of teachers are taken into consideration as well. In addition, the study analyzes educational strategies of university applicants concerning the choice of type of private tutoring and the amount of investment in pre-entry coaching. The efficiency of private tutoring after the introduction of the Unified state Exam (the USE) is estimated. Finally, the barriers of access to elite higher education in Russia are analyzed.

The objects of study are university faculty and university applicants. The subjects of study are the features of academic profession and faculty attitudes, as well as educational trajectories and strategies of Russian university applicants. This study investigates the incentives of the different economic agents in the market of higher education: universities, teachers, students.     

Research objectives:

  1. Evaluation of the factors determining the different types of commitment to work among university faculty.
  2. Elaboration of a theoretical framework to explain the differences in academic mobility and working time distribution of faculty in Russia and Germany.
  3. Identification and description of problems which face young faculty in different countries.
  4. Research of the characteristics of control on faculty and their reaction on the control policy in academia.
  5. Analysis of the factors which affect the level of stress and job satisfaction Russian universities.
  6. Analysis of faculty preferences towards research and teaching.
  7. Estimation of the dynamic of investment in pre-entry coaching and the analysis of the efficiency of private tutoring.
  8. Modeling the barriers of access to elite higher education in Russia and evaluation of factors which limit the accessibility of elite higher education in Russia.

Methodology: In order to solve these problems, theoretical and empirical methods of data analysis were employed: in particular, the assumptions and methods of game theory, neoclassical economics, new institutional theory. Statistical and econometric methods of analysis are widely applied to the data collected.

Empirical base of research: The report employs data from the International comparative study "Changing academic profession", the results of the survey Russian faculty, Monitoring of education markets and organizations, Rating of admission quality.

Results of research: The first chapter examines the predictors and consequences of organizational commitment among Russian university teachers. Based on the analysis of survey data of Russian teachers, it is shown that teacher’s belonging to a group of insiders or outsiders in relation to the university where he works at the moment is a significant predictor of affective and normative commitment to the university. Insiders have a greater emotional attachment to university where they used to study and then started to work; they feel obliged to that university, which in turn contributes to their desire to continue working there. In this case, inbreeding does not affect the commitment, based on an assessment of the costs of leaving the university or starting another job.

The second chapter is devoted to the study of academic trajectories of young faculty. The first section provides a comparative analysis of mobile and non-mobile teachers in countries with different types of academic systems, i.e. Russia and Germany. Previous studies of the relationship between academic mobility, productivity and time management of faculty show that this relationship is ambiguous in different countries. One explanation for these differences may be due to a discrepancy in the academic systems in these countries. Based on this hypothesis, publication activity, time management and participation in the academic community of teachers who have worked in the same institution and change a few institutions in two countries are compared. The regression results show differences in the correlations between the key parameters for Russia and Germany, which corresponds to the initial hypothesis.

The second section is devoted to the analysis of the academic profession for young faculty in different countries: China, Norway, India, Germany, France, South Africa, USA, Brazil and Russia. The section describes the trajectories of young teachers at the beginning of their academic career, challenges that they face, and their prospects in the labor market. Such a comparative analysis is very important for policy to support young teachers at the start of their careers.

The third chapter is devoted to the analysis of control in the academia and the behavior of faculty. It is shown that in Russian universities agents concerned with the department, execute control more frequently than other agents. Russian higher education system is characterized by more intensive control than in other countries. Control varies in universities of different types (National research universities, Federal universities, other universities) for teachers who are inbreeded or not, for those who have a degree or don’t have.

The fourth chapter considers such aspects of academic profession as occupational stress and job satisfaction of faculty of Russian universities, as well as analyzes the characteristics of teaching in Russian universities. In the first section it is shown that in contrast to the colleagues from other countries, Russian teachers experience low occupational stress and less satisfied with their jobs. This section describes the relationship between the level of occupational stress, job satisfaction and satisfaction with resources provided by the university. It is shown that (communication, role in the organization and so forth) are of special significance in Russia.

The second section of the fourth chapter shows that the features of the Soviet and Russian higher education has led to the focus on teaching among faculty. The section also describes faculty who are interested in science; in particular, it is shown that they are more satisfied with their work at the university and more professionally active (for example, on average, work more hours per week, often apply for scientific competitions).

The fifth chapter analyzes educational strategies of university applicants and college choice after the introduction of the USE. The first section examines the patterns of pre-entry coaching and corresponding investment in private tutoring before and after the introduction of the Unified State Exam (the USE). The effectiveness of private tutoring in 2012 – a few years after the USE became a prerequisite for admission to university – is estimated. Data from the Monitoring of Education Markets and Organizations show that the main types of pre-entry coaching are still in demand despite the unification of admission requirements. The popularity of paid courses at a particular university has declined, and the prevalence of classes with tutors who are not related to university has risen. A few years after the introduction of the USE, the level of investment in pre-entry coaching in real terms barely changed; however, the returns from such an investment (expressed in the USE scores) are positive but moderate. 

The second section examines the factors which influence student choice of university as measured by the level of university selectivity. It is shown that that university selectivity can be determined not only by the USE scores among admitted students (the main criteria of applicants’ selection in Russia), but by characteristics that are not directly related to the applicants’ abilities: parental education, family income, cultural capital, as well as by characteristics of secondary school (type of school and class specialization) and level of investment in pre-entry coaching. In total, these factors raise the question of equal opportunities for admission and the accessibility of high quality higher education for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.


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