The corresponding law was signed by Vladimir Putin.
On Friday, May 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on a pilot project to reform higher education. Among other things, it provides for the abolition of the bachelor's degree and the introduction of a basic level of higher education, with programs lasting from four to six years. One of the six institutions of higher education where the initiative will be launched this year is the St. Petersburg Mining University.
It was so coincidentally that when the decree was published, it was at Russia's first technical university that a presentation and discussion took place on the new concept of higher education in Russia in connection with our country's withdrawal from the Bologna process. The meeting was attended by the rectors of domestic higher technical educational institutions that are part of the Nedra Consortium, the Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, the head of the Talent and Success Foundation (Sirius) Elena Shmeleva, representatives of the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. At the meeting there were such proposals as the increase of the terms of industrial practice to at least half a year, the compulsory placement of graduates in production, as well as a gradual reduction of the number of budgetary places in universities by 2-3 times and the formation of the ideology of state educational grants.
The initiative to abandon the standards imposed on us by the West 20 years ago and return to the traditional system of higher education was introduced by President Vladimir Putin in February of this year during his address to the Federal Assembly. One of the reasons was the domination of educational programs, designed for 4 years. According to employers and university community, it is impossible to train competent young specialists in a number of fields within this period of time, they do not have time to acquire all necessary knowledge and skills. Particularly little time is allocated for practical training at the bachelor's degree program.
A month ago Vladimir Litvinenko, the rector of the Mining University, drafted a strategy to radically improve the quality of training and use of specialists with higher technical education. This document was sent to the executive and legislative authorities, the heads of the regions where large energy, mining and petrochemical companies operate, the heads of specialized enterprises, as well as the universities that are part of the Nedra consortium. The aim was to organize a broad public discussion on the future of the system of higher engineering education.
Its result, as emphasized Vladimir Litvinenko, opening the meeting, was the formation of a strategy based on the best initiatives. Moreover, a number of conclusions outlined in it "is no longer subject to discussion", as it was made on the basis of a single opinion of employers, the university community and politicians. That is, it is "a consolidated position, the practical implementation of which will allow to respond to the current challenges facing the national economy."
"We handed over the whole package of documents to the Minister of Science and Higher Education, especially noting that in its preparation we took into account not only the experience of the Soviet Union, but also the progressive standards in place at the world's leading technical universities," the rector addressed his colleagues, after which he gave the floor to Valery Falkov.
The minister first congratulated the staff, students and alumni of St. Petersburg Mining University on its forthcoming 250th anniversary and thanked Vladimir Litvinenko for his initiative in organizing the public discussion. He also emphasized the "need to develop common approaches to improving engineering education. At the heart of this reform is the abandonment of the bachelor's degree and its "replacement with the training of specialists with different terms of study."
"The restructuring of higher engineering education is one of the most important mechanisms for accelerating the country's social and economic development. Our history knows examples when this task was successfully solved, so I have no doubt that you and I will also be able to realize what we have planned. The main thing is to find a balance between the fundamentality of education and the possibility of applied application of the knowledge and skills obtained in the process of training," - said Valery Falkov.
One of the ways to achieve this, he called "the flexibility of the terms of study in the format of the basic higher education." As for the master's program, according to the minister, it should remain only where the conditions for it are created. That is, firstly, there is no shortage of competent teachers and scientists, and secondly, the appropriate instrument and laboratory base is formed.
Vladimir Litvinenko called it "abnormal" that universities do not have laboratories, necessary for scientific experiments. And he said that one of the tasks of the reform should be to create conditions under which students of less financially secure higher educational institutions could use the best facilities at the expense of academic exchange with the flagships of the national institution of higher education. The Mining University is already going this way - this year its administration will give about a thousand grants to young people who study at regional universities for internships in St. Petersburg.
The rector reminded that not all postulates of the Bologna process have a negative connotation. This system, for example, has dramatically increased the number of high-quality, highly cited scientific articles, whose authors are Russian scientists. Nevertheless, it did not take into account many of our realities and, in general, of course, had a detrimental effect on the level of personnel training. Today it urgently needs to be raised, including through the unification of curricula.
"General educational standards should be the same for all universities, regardless of their focus - medical, technical, agrarian... The history of Russia, political economy and a number of other disciplines should be taught according to the same mold. The same applies to general engineering education. This is necessary so that after the second year the student could easily transfer to another university, for example, closer to home, and safely continue their studies without experiencing problems due to differences in requirements on the part of teachers. The third block should unite institutions of higher education on the basis of the unified educational standards," Litvinenko emphasized.
He reminded that Russian economy is industrialized and there is a high demand on the labor market, first of all, for engineers capable of quickly adapting to a real industrial facility. That is why the employers made it mandatory to increase the period of internship to at least six months. Another proposal on their part was to pass a law that would oblige graduates to work at a certain enterprise for at least three years after graduation from their alma mater.
Then, according to this initiative, young engineers would have to pass an attestation, which would be conducted jointly by representatives of the university and the company. According to its results, if they are successful, they will receive professional accreditation and a raise of at least 10%.
"Today the shortage of engineering staff at many production facilities is up to 60%. In order to reduce it, we need, among other things, financial incentives, i.e. wage growth. In the Far East, for example, representatives of working professions are paid more than engineers, which negatively affects the image of the profession. Considering that today's students are not like their peers of 40 years ago - they are more consumers than creators - this situation seems unacceptable," Vladimir Litvinenko emphasized.
In his opinion, to change the current situation, it is possible, including, "by gradually reducing the number of budgetary places in universities by 2-3 times and the formation of the ideology of state educational grants." This will identify the most motivated young people to work in the real economy and create the basis for the qualitative growth of the personnel reserve.
"Technology and science are the engines of progress. But it is possible to bring them to a new level and create prerequisites for progressive development of national economy only in case of general mobilization of efforts, creation of public motivation and formation of unified approach to solving numerous problems that the Bologna process left us", - summarized the rector.
It should be noted that the public-professional community of universities "Nedra" was created in 2020. Today it unites 110 universities, whose fields of study are connected with the training of specialists for the mineral and raw material complex of Russia. The basis of the collaboration is the need to combine the efforts of higher educational institutions to create a single educational space within the country, develop academic mobility and improve the quality of Russian graduates through these mechanisms.