MIEF: 5 important trends in Russian education

Moscow International Education Fair (MIEF-2016).

Moscow International Education Fair (MIEF-2016).

Press Photo
Academicians and administrators are increasingly focusing on job-oriented courses and providing the right guidance for students. RBTH checked out the latest trends in Russian higher education at the Moscow International Education Fair (MIEF-2016).

The challenging economic environment has spurred a transformation of the Russian education system, which the country’s minister of industry calls a key factor in economic development. On day one of the Moscow International Education Fair (April 13-16), the number of visitors - 23,000 people - exceeded the turnout in 2015. RBTH looks at the key trends in the Russian higher education system.

Early career guidance and jobs of the future

Prominent headhunter Alena Vladimirskaya, who was the curator of the Career Guidance cluster at the fair, says much research is being conducted in Russia into jobs of the future. These studies are already having an impact on school and university curricula as well as on the demand for education among children and parents.

Source: Press Photo

“For instance, jobs in engineering and industry will see a good growth in Russia,” Vladimirskaya says. “The level of machine-engineering in Russia has not traditionally been that high, which is why demand for robotics engineers in the automotive industry will be lower than for robotics engineers in medicine, industry or the defense sector.”

Active parents

Parents of children born in the mid-2000s and early part of this decade are the main target audience for newly designed academic programs. They tend to be more proactive than members of the older generation.

Parents not only enroll their children for various additional classes but also pay meticulous attention to selecting education strategies for their offspring, from nursery school to university and further education. There is a strong demand for anything that would give their child a competitive advantage in the future labor market. This is perhaps the first time that parents in Russia are so heavily involved in their children’s education.

“There are schools where parents are involved even in the selection of textbooks and where parents play an active part in the running of the school,” says Igor Remorenko, Vice-Chancellor of the Moscow State Pedagogical University.

Education as a social ladder

One of the main trends in Russian education in recent times has been to make education a social ladder. The authorities have attempted to bring together the task of developing the economy with that of developing the secondary and higher education system. They look to make graduates more employable, and restore the prestige of certain professions.

Source: Press Photo

However, not everything is so rosy. According to academicians, the emergence of pockets of poverty had led to children becoming hostages to the socio-cultural status of their families. In such a case, education no longer helps a person to progress from one social status to another.

Engineering and robotics

If you combine the first three trends and add a diploma in engineering, you will end up with the occupation that is in most demand in Russia at the moment.

Source: Press Photo

Higher-education establishments are not only busy updating their training programs but are allowing students to work and gain experience without taking time off from their studies. The students are placed in jobs and internships through a center that charges companies for placements. This enables the universities to earn some extra money.

Newly trained engineers will first and foremost fill in vacancies on the Russian market. According to Vladimirskaya, it is only programmers who are likely to go abroad. “Russian programmers have a brand, like Russian matryoshka dolls, Russian vodka or Russian ballet,” she says.

Business comes into education

Many companies have recently started participating in the Russian education system. This is done out of necessity as companies have to spend “a lot of money on training graduates” to the required level, Vladimirskaya says.  

She adds that the higher-education establishments are not quite prepared to change. “They have a closed internal system,” Vladimirskaya says. “Furthermore, they are bound by a huge number of formal restrictions. For example, if you come from industry but do not have a PhD or teaching experience, you are not allowed to teach in a university. At best, you may be allowed to teach an optional course. That is why an increasing number of companies that can afford it are setting up their own departments at universities, where they put finishing touches to students’ education in line with their practical needs. This path has been chosen by Yandex, Mail.ru and Kaspersky Lab.”

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