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Russian universities get public support to improve international visibility

In July, the Russian Ministry of Education and Science published the results of a national competition launched with the aim to support the competitiveness of selected national universities worldwide (for more details about the competition, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, February 2013). Overall, 15 Russian universities will share RUB 9 billion (~EUR 210 million) of additional public funding to be allocated to them this year for the activities supporting their ranking in the top 100 universities worldwide. As expected by the government, at least five national universities should be represented in the top 100 by 2020. The list of selected higher education institutions includes:
  • 3 federal universities;
  • 11 research universities;
  • 1 university without a special status.
The allocated funding will primarily be used to enhance international cooperation activities such as:
  • promoting incoming and outgoing mobility of academic staff from/to top foreign and national universities;
  • implementing measures to promote outgoing student mobility at all levels of higher education;
  • attracting foreign students (incoming mobility) as free movers or as part of organised mobility within the framework of joint education programmes with foreign universities;
  • improving the quality of Aspirantura (the Russian equivalent of PhD) and Doktorantura (the Russian equivalent of Full Professorship);
  • introducing new educational programmes in cooperation with leading foreign and Russian universities;
  • performing basic and applied research.
Almost all of the selected higher education institutions already enjoy a special status in the Russian educational landscape, which means that they receive more public funding for modernising their infrastructure, improving educational offers and competences of staff compared to other universities in Russia. The above-cited universities will likely become even more active in promoting incoming and outgoing student and staff mobility and university cooperation (i.e. curricula development and development of joint programmes). Most of them have already good international cooperation records with EU universities, through Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, EU Centres and the Jean Monnet programme. 
Special attention seems to be paid to international university rankings in Russia. Earlier in 2012, the government decided to facilitate the recognition of foreign educational degrees and academic titles in Russia for a number of 210 higher education institutions from 25 countries that are listed among the top 300 on the most authoritative international league tables. Starting on 1 September 2013, 33 Russian institutions will enjoy the right to independently recognise foreign educational degrees and academic titles, which used to be the prerogative of a special education supervisory agency and subject to rather lengthy and cumbersome procedures.