Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Russia’s new head of the Ministry of Education and Science: to be continued…?

Russia’s new Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev recently unveiled the composition of his Cabinet, which will steer the country’s development in the months, possibly years, to come. While Medvedev’s appointment as Prime Minister came as no surprise in his tandem switch with President Vladimir Putin, many portfolios of his new Cabinet were assigned to ‘old new’ functionaries. Thus, the science and education file was handed to the rector of the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, Dmitri Livanov, who had already served as a high-rank official (Vice Minister and State Secretary) in the Ministry of Education and Science between 2004 and2007, and who is widely seen as a team mate of former Minister Andrei Fursenko. In addition, as part of the ongoing government reshuffle, some of the former ministers have moved to Kremlin as presidential aides. For example, Andrei Fursenko will now advise President Putin on educational and research matters.

Against this background, it is most likely that Russia’s current higher education and research policy course will largely be continued. De facto, many important academic mobility decisions, such as Russia’s participation in the Bologna process; the creation of a national mobility scheme to allow Russian students to fund their studies abroad; the launch of the country’s mega-grant programme supporting the activities of foreign researchers at Russian universities (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, September 2011); the recognition of foreign diplomas and academic qualifications in Russia (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, December 2011), have already been made earlier and the new minister will have to oversee their further implementation . It is expected that Dmitri Livanov will be particularly keen on developing Russia’s international higher education and research profile based on the active involvement of research universities, again, with a continued strong focus on cooperation with Europe. The momentum seems to be favourable as the country has just published a list of foreign universities which diplomas and academic qualifications will be automatically recognised in Russia. The inventory of more than 200 universities, selected on the basis of a set of (rather vague) criteria such as a university’s position in international rankings (Academic Ranking of World Universities, Times Higher Education and QS World University Ranking), includes 91 European universities. However, this list does not include even one higher education institution from Central or Eastern Europe, including Eastern Germany and Berlin, where many Russian students traditionally go to study. 

The emerging science and education governance patterns in Russia therefore largely indicate continuity with the recent past. Yet some bureaucratic uncertainty and confusion will surely be affecting the Russian academic landscape, at least at the first stage of this ‘old new’ era to come. Dmitri Livanov has already promised to launch a comprehensive audit of academic institutions and to make radical changes in the Ministry’s staff in order to have more practitioners with specific education and research-related experience instead of professional civil servants.

Ministry of Education and Science (new Minister) Moscow Times (appointment of presidential aids) Nature News (mobility scholarship programme) Rossiyskaya gazeta (recognition of foreign diplomas and qualifications, in Russian)