World-Class Russian Education!

The goal of Project 5-100 is to maximize the competitive position of a group of leading Russian universities in the global research and education market.

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Marketing, Recruitment, Ratings and Foresight. Project 5-100 experts meet in Moscow

February 7, 2014

More than 120 representatives of the participants in the Project 5-100 and experts in the sphere of education gathered in the Marriott Grand Hotel for a seminar-conference on the progress of implementation of the roadmaps of the university-winners of the competitiveness enhancement programs.

Some key topics of the seminar conference were matters related to international marketing and recruitment, rating strategies, scientometrics and foresight.

Representatives of Russian universities and the Ministry of Education and Science were invited to the conference as experts as well as representatives of specialized companies, agencies and universities who addressed the conference via videoconferencing - The State University of New York, Freie Universitat Berlin and Radboud University Nijmegen.

Three roundtables were organized on the first day of the seminar-conference. The First roundtable was dedicated to the topic “Marketing and Communication of University as a Recruitment Tool”. The roundtable was moderated by Elena Chernyshkova – head of the Educational Practice Odgers Berndson.

In addition to the main program, several strategic meetings dedicated to the project for competitiveness enhancement of Russian universities were organized during the second day of the seminar-conference. 5top100 working groups initiated discussions on the following topics: International recruitment and HR, Recruitment strategies and scientometrics and International financial reporting standards.

Isac Frumin (Academic Director of the Institute of Education of HSE) spoke about the principles of establishing the international reputation of a university. On the one hand, this process is evolutionary and involves recruitment of experience lecturers and the enhancement of academic citations in international journals. On the other hand, it is also necessary to launch more innovative strategies, such as inviting academic “celebrities” whose eminence could lend prestige to the proceeding, participate in effective international projects, and to launch “stimulating and perhaps unprecedented projects” within the universities themselves.

Alexei Glazyrin (General Director of Newton-PR Agency) compared the Russian and foreign experience of university promotion. He said that Russian universities need to overcome one especially flagrant problem – that is, they need to become “visible” in the market of educational services. For this they need to carefully choose their communication channels, change the stereotypical image of their universities, work with target audiences and use new online promotion technologies.

Maxim Buyev (Dean of the Economics Department of the European University in St. Petersburg) shared his university’s experience of building an academic reputation and inviting international professors and students to the university. Buyev emphasized that it is very important to remember that international recruitment is not just about getting a foreign staff member employed, but about providing support to his/her family in Russia, offering employment to recent graduates, plus clearly defining the position the specific niche of the university, etc.

Vladimir Shevchenko (Deputy Director of the Center of Fundamental Research of “Kurchatov Institute”) was the last speaker who talked about the factors helping the enhancement of the competitive standing of Russian universities, i.e. participation in large international projects and publication of academic articles, setting up joint research centers, development of quantitative criteria, etc. Shevchenko’s position is that “Getting into a rating should not be a university’s goal, but rather its aim should be the number of students wishing to study there.”

All speakers agreed that a university’s image and reputation in the academic community and among the business contacts of a foreign academic who is considering an offer to work in a Russian university -- or a student who is considering a course of study there -- is of paramount importance . Therefore, building a reputation is what universities should concern themselves with in the coming decade. All participants in the roundtable understood that this is not going to happen overnight, but remain excited that the government has set such an appealing goal for them.

The second roundtable “Forecasting technological development: its role, significance and development tools for a university” focused on the discussion of a possible change in the education and production paradigms in view of the current alterations within the technological cycle of innovation and development of distance learning systems. How all of this will affect the appeal of universities for students was discussed at the roundtable moderated by Evgeniy Kuznetsov (Director of the Department of Strategic Communications and member of the Management Board of RVK).

Speaking about the educational paradigm of the future, Dmitry Peskov (Director of the “Young Professionals” Sector of the Strategic Initiatives Agency), asserted his belief that in the future, universities must approximate the model of holding companies which create the right conditions for the launch of educational startups under the leadership of their professors (faculty) and involving the students and key stakeholders.

Vladimir Knyagin (Director of the Foundation “Center for Strategic Innovation “North-West”) forecasted an impending revolution in natural sciences and technical disciplines and a transition to post-classical science, the appearance of new research methods, the re-configuration of research practices, the appearance of “intellectual environments” and a solution to academic and industrial tasks through network communication and the need to work on a global scale.

HSE experts Alexander Chulok and Alexander Sokolov (Head of Academic and Technological Forecasting of the Institute of Statistical Research and Economics of Knowledge and Director of the HSE Foresight Center respectively) presented a forecast of the development of science and technology in Russian until 2030. Answering a question from the audience about what technologies are necessary to “stay on board”, he stated that most experts adhere to the position that it is the ability to “get into the trend” in sufficient time so as to not miss the vital opportunities that present themselves.

During the third roundtable, entitled “Scientometrics as a tool for selection of partners for joint research,” Igor Bulzhenkov (Advisor to the Rector of MIPT, Coordinator of the expert group “Rating Strategies and Scientometrics” of the Project 5top100 and Chief Editor of Round University Ranking (RUR)) and Oleg Solovyev (Project Manager of Skoltech) talked about the equation of logic that calls for a description of the method of score calculation in the Times Higher Education Rating: to wit, how initial information is transformed into scores and rating positions.

Pavel Kasyanov (Expert of Thomson Reuters) advised university researchers to strengthen international collaboration if they are to improve citation indicators. He advised speaking at international conferences and taking on high impact factor researchers as co-authors. Maria Aksentyeva (Executive Secretary of the Journal “Achievements of Physical Sciences”), using her journal as an example, spoke in detail about the method of calculation of citation indicators. The audience was shocked to hear that because of the difference of the citation period of the Russian and English versions, the losses of the total number of articles attributed to each university are up to 70 percent per university.

The day ended with a meeting of university managers and administrators where the representatives of the Project office, the relevant ministries and institutions discussed their future plans for the networking cooperation between the universities-participants in 5top100.

The second day started with an address of Rick Van Sant (Vice-President for E-Learning and Professor at the Abu Dhabi University and the University of Michigan). In his speech he talked about creating a university image based on the best practice of American universities. University openness plays an important role in the promotion of a university in the public domain. Open door days on campus, charitable events, expert centers for the assessment of entrepreneurs’ ideas, cultural events and business incubators – these are all ways to make a university appear open and accessible to new ideas and approaches. Of course, one must not forget the standard components: world-class education, academic articles in English, an active alumni society, and the usage of modern technologies (communication channels, networks, analytical systems). In response to a question about what makes a world-class university Van Sant said that “it’s a place where everyone wants to be, but no one knows what it is and how to get there.”

The next speaker – Andrei Ivaschenko (Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for High Technologies “ChemRar”, member of the Supervisory Board of MIPT and member of the Management Board of Phystech-Soyuz) introduced the participants to a strategic initiative – “Phystech XXI” – a phystech-cluster and marketing interface of the MIPT University. He emphasized the fact that universities need to have their own development environments.

He gave as an example the fact that today MIPT has an IT-cluster where many large IT companies have opened their offices. They have created their own training programs for phystech students. There is also a bio-pharmaceutical cluster “Severny” which appeared at the same time as the medical & biological department in the university, as well as a school of systems engineering (an equivalent of MBA for engineers from large industrial corporations), where ordinary MIPT students work in project groups. There is also a boarding school for gifted children. In the future it is planned to set up a network of similar phystech schools in various regions. All this is thanks to a structured alumni society, says Ivaschenko.

Mikhail Myagkov (Vice President for Academic Matters of the Skoltech Institute) spoke at the next seminar-workshop dedicated to the marketing of Russian schools abroad and the recruitment of international staff and students. He spoke about the need to cooperate with the academic Diaspora. He added that the recruitment of Russian professors with international experience, and then taking the next step of providing them with an opportunity to return to Russia – these things can help with breaking into the higher echelons of the ratings and building a positive reputation for any given university.

Maxim Khomyakov (Provost of the Ural Federal University) shared his university’s positive experience of internationalization. His report entitled “University as a brand” contained a proposal for 15 Russian universities interested in promoting themselves abroad – organization of a joint network program “Study in Russia” for foreign students studying Russian in various universities all over the world.

During a Skype session, Megan Brenn-White (Director and founder of the company Brenn-White) talked about how Russians are perceived in the eyes of an international audience, the implications thereof, and went on further to analyze the websites of the participants in the Program 5top100.

Alexander Molochkov (Deputy Director for Science and Innovation of the Biomedical School of the Far-Eastern Federal University) was the last speaker at the seminar-workshop. In his report he reviewed the latest strategy for academic and general communication and gave practical advice which will help to solve the problems of university internationalization.

During the second part of the seminar-workshop “Marketing and international student recruitment: challenges and successful strategies based on real cases” the participants in the workshop were able to talk to marketing specialists from the USA, the Netherlands and Germany via Skype. Megan Brenn-White shared her experience of student recruitment and international marketing in Europe and the USA. Laura Derkse (Head of International Marketing and Recruitment of Radboud University Nijmegen) related the international marketing experience of her university which she labeled “How to turn a regional university into a world-class university with limited resources.” Matthias Kuder (Head of the Center for International Cooperation of the Freie Universitat Berlin) spoke about how one can get into ratings based on the example of his university – a participant in the German equivalent of the program 5-100. Christa Norsap (Director for International Student Recruitment from the State University of New York) shared her experience of international student recruitment. These revelations concluded the cycle of Skype seminars.

In addition to the main program, during the second day of the seminar conference a series of strategic meetings of the project for competitiveness enhancement of Russian universities was held. Working groups from the Program 5-100 discussed the following topics: “International recruitment and HR,” “Recruitment strategies and scientometrics” and “International financial reporting standards.”