On the 3th February a meeting among the Rectors of the 15 Universities, which take part in Competitiveness Enhancement Programme «5/100», was held at the Higher School of Economics. The participants discussed the opportunities of overcoming financial and regulatory restrictions, as well as network interaction perspectives.
From the first work days the participants came up against some problems, which are connected with the lack of resources (financial, infrastructural, etc.), as well as the different legal norms, which hinder universities, for instance, from hiring professors or implementing joint projects. RF Deputy Minister of Education and Science Mr. Alexander Povalko stated that his Ministry would like to receive proposals from the Rectors, in order to solve this relevant question. Also other authorities should participate in decision-making: in fact, the meeting was also attended by RF Deputy Minister of Labor Ms. Lyubov Eltsova and State Secretary and First Deputy Director of the Federal Migration Service Ms. Ekaterina Egorova.
The main problem is the reduction of originally planned project’s funding. According to HSE Rector Mr. Yaroslav Kuzminov, the universities’ involvement in research projects will be only effective if they get higher rates of pay. For this reason rectors consider it necessary, within the modification of the Government Program «Development of Education» for 2013-2020, to restore the initial project’s funding, which was originally proposed by the Minister of Education and Science to Prime Minister.
Even in the leading universities sufficiently developed infrastructure are not available: there are almost no campus and dormitories are not sufficient. Rector of Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University Mr. Ilshat Gafurov complained about some university’s buildings. For this reason it is necessary to conduct an audit of them, in order to achieve Program «5/100» aims.
Cooperation with foreign partners is limited by the strict immigration policy. According to the Rector of St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics Mr. Vladimir Vasilev, it is not possible to invite foreign professors by a specified date because of visa barriers. Rector of Tomsk Polytechnic University Mr. Peter Chubik reported that when highly qualified specialists of foreign leading universities apply for a work-visa, even a criminal record issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs is required.
HSE Rector Mr. Yaroslav Kuzminov called for mutual openness and readiness to share experiences. Joint Bachelor and Master Degree Programs are necessary, as well as a deeper integration in the international network.
In order to improve the quality of teaching, our universities should have freedom of manoeuvre when renewing contracts. Rectors of leading universities turned to Ministry of Labour, proposing to introduce more flexible contract conditions and stricter quality criteria.
Another direction of development is the collaboration between universities and scientific institutes, otherwise, as Rector of Ural Federal University Mr. Victor Koksharov stated, «we will not achieve the aims of the 5/100 Program». It was discussed about a collaboration or even a complete integration of the scientific institutes within the university system.
It was also decided that the association of the 15 universities should became a legal entity, in order to ease the international cooperation with the association as a whole. Its name, which was to be heard during the conference, is «Association of Universities- Participants in Competitiveness Enhancement Program – “Global Universities”».
Translated by Selenia Corsi, Erasmus Mundus intern, University of Bologna