Academic integration discussed at the Krasnoyarsk Economic ForumMarch 4, 2014
Academic integration will enable the Russian academic community to solve problems on a national level, said Mikhail Kotyukov (Head of the Federal Agency of Academic Organizations) at the round-table “Club 9: time of effective academic integrations”
The meeting of Club 9 was held on 27 February 2014 during the 11th Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in the Siberian Federal University (SFU). Among those participating in the discussion were: Alexander Povalko (Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation), Vladimir Fortov (President of the Russian Academy of Sciences), Mikhail Kotyukov (Head of the Federal Agency of Academic Organizations), Vladislav Panchenko (Chairman of the Russian Foundation of Fundamental Research), Alexander Khlunov (General Director of the Russian Science Foundation), Alexander Uss (Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of Krasnoyarsk Region), and rectors of federal and research universities, including the university-participants in the Project 5-100.
The main topics discussed were the models of cooperation between federal universities and academic organizations, the goals of the universities as conductors of the national policy in the sphere of reforming higher professional education and the RAS reform, their participation in global ratings, and the national competitive ability on a global scale.
“We must consolidate our efforts in order to accomplish important government goals,” said Kotyukov. “This involves the accelerated development of Siberia, improvement of the quality of education of the leading universities, and their promotion in international ratings and development of science in the country.”
According to Kotyukov, Siberia has experience of such consolidation. “SFU and the Siberian Branch of the RAS have specific know-how. We want their specific projects to become the norm, so that this practice would be applicable in different organizations,” Kotyukov emphasized. He also reminded his listeners that in the past few years significant investments have been made into science, research labs and collective use centers which have been established, institutes and furnished with cutting-edge equipment. “We must now discuss joint projects that would enable us to solve academic and educational problems and which would help to develop the outlying regions. I’d like to point out that we will not be able to achieve the desired effect without the support of regional authorities,” he said.
Alexander Povalko (Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation) refreshed the memories of the audience regarding the initial goals of Project 5-100 when it started in 2013. The purpose of the Project has always been to have several Russian universities among the top international research and education centers. “Our analysis of the roadmaps of the selected universities revealed that the jump which will have to be made in terms of quality and volume of academic research is beyond not only the universities’ ability but also the budget allocated to the program,” Povalko said. In his opinion, the most feasible way of solving this task is to combine the capacities of the Academy of Sciences with the infrastructure of the universities. “Our main goal today is to develop the right stimuli and a strategy of successful development,” he concluded.
Evgeniy Vaganov (SFU Rector and Academic of RAS) reminded everyone that science is an important element of economic growth. He described several spheres where research institutes and universities are competing for financial resources. According to the Rector, cooperation in scientific programs on a macro-regional level where practical tasks will be supported by fundamental research could provide basis for successful collaboration. As proof of the success of such schemes, he described the example of the Forestry Institute of the Siberian Branch of RAS which, while working on a specific practical task – the development of regional forestry rules -- was able to become a world leader in forestry and environmental sciences.
Vaganov referred to young scientists as the main drivers of scientific development. “Only young people can change the situation. We need new people, not structural changes. Bet on young people,”, he urged.
Speaking of the main competitive advantages of FEFU, Sergei Ivanets (Rector of the Far-Eastern Federal University (FEFU)) spoke about the close cooperation of the University with the Far-Eastern Branch of RAS which enables the employees of RAS to combine academic activities with teaching. According to Ivanets, the cooperation of university and academic sciences must be built in the form of a research and education cluster conducting both practical and fundamental research and training specialists for the industrial enterprises of the region. The latter, according to Ivanets, should become the key coordinators of joint scientific collaboration.
Elena Kudriashova (Rector of the Northern Arctic Federal University) proposed to place orders for academic research based on the interests and specific features of macro-regions – Siberia, the Far East and the Arctic. She spoke about a system of comprehensive study of northern and arctic territories which is currently underway in the Northern (Arctic) Federal University. It is these constituencies of Russia, where special-status federal universities have been established, that could become pilot sites for testing and trying possible cooperation models between federal universities and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
During the meeting, another important problem of scientific cooperation was discussed in detail – the fact that integration is currently not a systemic thing but rather happens on an individual level. According to Victor Koksharov (Rector of the Ural Federal University), this problem can be solved only if government funds are re-distributed in favor of those teams which are formed on the basis of integration. “We need to use the carrot and stick method, where KPIs for scientific organizations and monitoring of their performance will be the “stick” forcing the management of scientific institutions to set up joint scientific projects,” said the Rector.
Yaroslav Kuzminov (Rector of the Higher School of Economics) drew everyone’s attention to the fact that the “financing of fundamental and basic research projects is the responsibility of the government and state corporations, but not a responsibility of Russian business, whose vision is focused on ordering more practical and directly specific result-oriented research.” Speaking of positive changes, Kuzminov mentioned the raise of the basic salary of scientists and researchers which draws “new blood” to fundamental science, development programs such as 5top100, and the increased amount of financing of science through various foundations. According to the Rector, long-term grants could bring stability to the development of Russian science.
The key role of the government in the issue at hand was also mentioned by Ilshat Gafurov (Rector of the Kazan Federal University). “They have been trying to talk us into working with large corporations for a long time but nothing happened until certain motivating mechanisms were introduced under Decree # 218.” “Motivating and stimulating measures for cooperation between universities and RAS institutes must be developed,” Gafurov concluded.
Alexei Romanov – a researcher in the Siberian Federal University – expressed the opinion that it really doesn’t matter for a young scientist where to do research – in a university lab or in a scientific institute. However, he agreed that federal universities provide young specialists with more opportunities for professional development – both academically and commercially speaking.
Alexander Khlunov (Director of the Russian Science Foundation) came up with a kind of a summary to the discussion by pointing out the important role of high-quality expertise and assessment of scientific research in the course of integration of universities and science. “We are currently setting up an expert council,” he reassured his listeners.
Club-9 – a network of federal universities was established in 2013 within the framework of the Association of the leading universities of Russia. The main goal of the organization is to cooperate in the sphere of training of highly-qualified staff and generation of effective technologies of outstanding quality. The following universities are members of the Club:
- Baltic Federal University named after Immanuel Kant
- Far-Eastern Federal University
- Kazan Federal University
- Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after Mikhail Lomonosov
- North-Western Federal University
- North-Caucasus Federal University
- Siberian Federal University
- Ural Federal University named after the First President of Russia Boris Yeltsin
- Southern Federal University