Victor Koksharov: “Our dream is to create a world-class university in the heart of Eurasia”February 12, 2016
On 11 February, the 15th Seminar-Conference of Project 5-100 in Yekaterinburg opened with a plenary session devoted to the best practices of Ural Federal University. Rector Victor Koksharov spoke about how UrFU is transforming from an “educational machine” into a university based on research and innovation. “Our dream is to create a world-class university in the heart of Eurasia”, said the Rector.
According to Koksharov, the university is becoming entrepreneurial; its innovation is starting to generate income. UrFU has many ways of attracting the involvement of young people in technological entrepreneurship – the university has set up a Foundation for Innovative Development. The university also plays an important role in the program for the revival and development of the Ural engineering school and training of future personnel for the military-industrial complex. According to the Rector, the establishment of the Higher School of Engineering is the foundation for the development of a world-class university. One of the university’s key partners is the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company. In partnership with this industrial giant, UrFU has founded the Technical University of UMMC and opened a lab building equipped with cutting-edge technology.
Among recent initiatives noted by the Rector were the establishment of the Center of Linguistic Support for academic communications between lecturers and researchers, the opening of the Center for BRICS Studies, and the Center for English-Language Studies with the possibility of preparing and taking international exams and obtaining international certificates. The university is especially proud of its history journal - Quaestio Rossica – which is now part of the main collection of the Web of Science even though it has only been published for a little over a year. “This shows that Russian universities can create world-class journals and rapidly promote them in international databases”, Koksharov concluded.
Another specific feature of UrFU, according to the speaker, is that it involves its students in everything that is happening at the school, including the implementation of the academic excellence program within Project 5-100. The university actively uses the resources of the Alumni Association with offices in many countries and develops its endowment fund.
An international contest for school students called “Test Drive” is another excellent idea implemented at UrFU. During the contest school kids from Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and other countries live on campus, study in university labs and attend lectures. The children get the chance to “try on” student life to see if it “fits” and later many of them return to the university as full-time students.
Other aspects of UrFU’s life were covered by Victor Koksharov’s colleagues. Vasily Tretyakov (Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs) devoted his presentation to “open education”. He explained that “one of the most important stages of the development of open education is the change of the management model for educational programs, and the implementation of the role of the programs manager. Last year we appointed all heads of all educational programs for master’s and bachelor’s level studies.” The speaker is sure that they can become the drivers of the development of network cooperation between universities and of the active use of content created in other universities.
Oleg Rebrin (Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs) spoke about the centers for continual professional training. The activity of such centers is not limited by education; they also facilitate the interaction between the university and its industrial partners in the area of research; also they organize engineering competitions, develop professional standards, and play an important role in the professional orientation of school kids. “As a result, better prepared, more motivated kids come to us”, Rebrin concluded. One such center has recently been established in partnership with the famous Uralvagonzavod.
Vladimir Kruzhaev (Academic Provost) devoted his presentation to the development of science at UrFU within the framework of Project 5-100. According to Kruzhaev, the most important component was the creation of competency centers devoted to four priority areas: “Information Technologies and Humans in Information Society”, “Energy, Resource-Saving and Rational Environmental Management”, “Flexible Technologies and New Materials”, and “Living Systems and Health”.
Nadezhda Terlyga (Deputy Vice-President) talked about the specific features of the organization of the innovative ecosystem at UrFU. According to Terlyga, innovation is integrated into educational technologies at the university. Over the past four years, the university has managed to create a powerful support system for intellectual property products, innovative marketing, technological services, implementation centers and staff support.
The Ural Federal University coordinates two major international projects – the BRICS University League and the BRICS Network University – UrFU, for example, is in charge of the development of all regulatory documents for the latter project. This aspect of the university’s activity was covered in the presentation of Maxim Khomyakov (Provost for International Affairs). For these purposes UrFU has created a Center for BRICS Studies. Russia has initiated the opening of excellence centers for various subjects. The first such center – for the study of the materials science- will be opened at UrFU. In addition, in April 2016, Yekaterinburg will host the first conference of the Network University which will be attended by 60 university rectors from BRICS countries.
Dmitry Bugrov (First Vice-President of UrFU) completed the presentation of best practices. He introduced the International Center for Historic Russian Studies established in 2014 within the framework of the Academic Excellence Project. Some of the priorities of the center include applied and inter-disciplinary research, focus on Russian history as part of world history, and search for partner universities which rank highly in the QS History rating. Bugrov is certain that the history of Russia is capable of arousing a great deal of interest in the global academic community.