“Quality of education is the key strength of Russian universities” according to Times Higher Education ExpertsNovember 20, 2015
The 14th seminar-conference of the Russian Academic Excellence Project started on 19 November at MISiS University. This seminar is special because of the number of distinguished guest speakers it has attracted, including Jamil Salmi – expert on world-class universities -- plus a distinguished group of Times Higher Education luminaries who spoke at one of the plenary sessions.
Alevtina Chernikova – MISiS Rector – greeted the guests on behalf of her university (which is hosting the event) and extended hearty congratulations to new university-members of Project 5-100. Chernikova said that “Competition is intensifying, and we are obviously a little worried, but we are happy that you are going to make our team even stronger”.
Alexander Povalko (Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Russia) joined in the spreading of good will. Povalko proclaimed that “We are going to encourage competition and ‘natural selection’ among Project participants!” The format of regular seminar-conferences of the Project has changed as well: starting from this 14th seminar they will open themselves even to universities that are not taking part in the Project. A furthermore, in the future invitations to participate in these conferences will be extended to representatives of foreign academic excellence projects.
The plenary session was highlighted by the presentations of Times Higher Education experts: Trevor Barratt (Managing Director at TES Global), Phil Baty (Chief Editor of THE Rankings) and Duncan Ross (Director for Data and Analytics at Times Higher Education). The UK specialists provided a detailed explanation of which indicators are used in THE rankings and spoke at length about the most recent updates to the methodology. In the nearest future, THE is planning to expand the range of its by-subject rankings. But at the same time, the speakers assured their audience that the methodology isn’t going to change significantly within the next several years.
Speaking of the results of Russian universities, Duncan Ross noted that their strongest feature is the quality of education. The indicators of Russian universities were discussed in detail during a workshop delivered by Duncan Ross, Phil Baty and Nicki Horseman (Senior Data Analyst at Times Higher Education). In addition to the excellent quality of education, our universities are doing well in terms of such indicators as industry income, student-faculty ratio, and number of international students.
Jamil Salmi – an American education expert who was in charge of higher education matters at the World Bank until 2012 – named three key components of a world-class university: governance, resources and concentration of talent. He spoke in great detail about each of these components. For example, he said that in order to build a great university one needs to have autonomous governance and the resolution to make decisions quickly. The speaker presented the cases of several successful universities – National University of Singapore and the University of Arizona. According to Salmi, such factors as internationalization, strategic planning, innovative approaches to teaching, specialization, and occupying the right “niche” (both with regard to a university as a whole and each specific program) can expedite the development of a world-class university. Salmi warned that if a university simply copies other leading institutions, it risks losing its unique identity. He encouraged the universities to abide by a so-called “Blue ocean strategy” – i.e. go where the profits and growth are and the competition isn’t, develop your own vision and mission, and build a new market wherein the services of your university will be in demand.