Good news for Russia’s excellence initiative

(16-11-2016)

Good news for Russia’s excellence initiative – continued support by new Minister

Two months into her appointment as Russia’s Minister of Education and Science (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, August 2016), Olga Vasilyeva announces she will continue to support Russia’s excellence initiative – the Project 5-100, initiated three years ago by her predecessor, Dmitry Livanov. The much-awaited announcement was made at a high-level meeting hosted by the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow on 19 October. The event gathered the rectors of the 21 top Russian universities members of the Global Universities Association (GAU) as well as the Deputy Prime Minister, Olga Golodet, to discuss the position of Russian universities in global university rankings.

Following the appointment of Ms Vasilyeva the Russian higher education community grew concerned that the new minister, who was closer to the school sector and that announced support for teachers nation-wide, might distance herself from the higher education sector, and implicitly from the Project 5-100. The concerns mounted after an announcement made at the end of September that Ms Vasilyeva decided to suspend the process of consolidation (mergers) of domestic universities, another initiative started under Dmitry Livanov.

The Project 5-100, initiated three years ago and cast to last eight years, is animated by a number of strategic objectives aimed to increase the capacity of Russian higher education institutions to compete globally, translated into ultimately having at least five Russian universities enter the top-100 of the QS, Times Higher Education (THE) or Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) rankings by 2020.

At the HSE event, in addition to her support for the project, the Education and Science Minister also showed an interest in assessing the success of the excellence initiative by other than only quantitative indicators, stating that “The performance metrics aren’t as important to us as the tools and mechanisms behind the changes”. Further plans, including on the funding side of the project, are yet to be communicated by the Minister.

The event served nevertheless also as an opportunity to take stock of progress towards the project’s quantitative objectives:

  •     In 2016, five Russian universities have made it into top-100 subject rankings of THE and QS, an other five into top-300.
  •     Since the beginning of the project, the number of publications by Project 5-100 universities on the Web of Science has increase by 150%.
  •     The number of foreign students at these universities rose by 60% in this period.
  •     More than 1 million people have attended online course provided by the Project universities via Coursera.


As for the future, the GAU plans to double the number of institutions in the top-100 and top-300 subject rankings by 2020.

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