Speakers of IREG Forum: Project 5-100 – a Bright Russian Academic Excellence InitiativeJune 17, 2015
On 11-12 June 2015, the Danish city of Aalborg hosted a forum organized by IREG (IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence) in partnership with the University of Aalborg. This year the Russian delegation included representatives and heads of more than 10 universities, more than half of which are members of Project 5-100, and also the HEIs implementing internationalization strategies, which have similar goals to those of Project universities. Within the framework of the forum, representatives of Project 5-100 met with delegates from the Ministry of Development of Turkey – an organization which oversees higher education in that country.
More than 140 education specialists from more than 30 nations gathered to discuss the role of rankings by subject: among this throng were heads of leading European and Asian universities; representatives of the world’s largest and most influential publishing houses and databases for scientific publications; rating consultants; and representatives of various consulting agencies. Several foreign speakers mentioned Project 5-100 as a bright new initiative for the development and internalization of higher education in Russia.
The presentation delivered by Elena Chernyshkova (Deputy Executive Director at Project 5-100 Office) allowed that Russian university – members of Project 5-100 are all facing similar challenges in the planning and implementation of their rankings strategies. According to Chernyshkova, a number of important aspects of university life have either not been taken into account at all or else have been relegated to a status of little importance by the majority of the world’s rankings; moreover, the rigidity of certain important ranking indicators often harms instead of helping to improve the quality of the process (for example, when calculating the number of publications or when measuring the global academic recruitment indicators).
On a positive note, Chernyshkova reminded her audience that “Russian university – participants in Project 5-100 have made significant progress in 2015. For example,” she stated, “four of 15 universities have been listed in the top 100 of QS and THE rankings by subject.” Nevertheless, according to the speaker, most Project universities are facing several common challenges in the area of internationalization: “Some of these barriers have to do with how slowly the changes in the university culture are taking place: the more influential and famous the university in the past, the harder it is for the management team to agree to and accept changes”, Chernyshkova also noted that the process of change is very complicated and requires management to have special skills and competencies. She acknowledged the reality that Russian universities are “undervalued” in international ratings because of the fact that for years most articles have been published in Russian only. She also mentioned the lack of management competency in such critical areas as PR, HR, fundraising, IT and process management -- as factors which have tended to undermine the successful development of Russian universities on an international scale.
Victor Koksharov (Rector of the Ural Federal University) spoke about university strategy implementation in real life. The head of UrFU expressed certainty that, despite the challenges mentioned by the “previous speaker” (Chernyshkova) - Project 5-100 universities remain highly focused and motivated to complete their transformation. According to Koksharov, if a university has selected the right path for development, this will most certainly be reflected by its ascent in the international academic rankings.