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Russia gives top universities $300m for global rankings boost

The Russian Department of Education has just assigned nearly 10.15bn roubles ($300m) in grants to 14 of its top-performing universities through a targeted initiative that aims to see five of the country’s universities enter the top 100 globally ranked higher education institutions by 2020.

National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, one of the universities receiving funding. Photo: Brateevsky.National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, one of the universities receiving funding. Photo: Brateevsky.

Just one of Russia’s higher education institutions, Moscow State University, was listed in the THE top 250 list for 2013-2014

The funding, up 16% from last year’s $253m, will be delivered in three tiers, with Moscow-based institutions the Institute of Physics and Technology, the Higher School of Economics and the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, each receiving 950m roubles ($27m).

“It has always been a source of frustration for Russians that their higher education institutions do not always enjoy the same reputation abroad as they do at home”

Key aims of Project 5-100, which began in 2012, include the promotion of Russian higher education in key markets; building up the academic reputation of leading universities’ scientific research; and “building positions and prestige in the world community, including the rankings”, according to its website.

Russia has historically struggled to compete on rankings prestige among global universities and worldwide academic rankings have been met with “denial and rejection”, Will Maciver, Partner Director of Study Group based in Russia, told The PIE News.

Just one of the country’s higher education institutions, Moscow State University, was listed in the THE World University Rankings top 250 for 2013-2014.

“It has always been a source of frustration for Russians that their higher education institutions do not always enjoy the same reputation abroad as they do at home,” explained Maciver, who has spent many years focusing on international recruitment in the country.

“For a country with such a proud academic pedigree, this has been an uphill struggle to fit the needs of higher education to that of an ever-changing economy,” he added.

A further four universities, including Novosibirsk State University, the Moscow Institute for Steel and Alloys, the Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg and ITMO University in St Petersburg will be handed 775m roubles ($22.5m), while the remaining seven will each receive 600m roubles ($17.5m) each.

The project is supported by the Council on Global Competitiveness Enhancement of Russian Universities, which was established specifically for this project.

The government has also confirmed that it has allocated more than 4bn roubles ($118m) to fund the Global Education Initiative announced earlier this year to enable Russian graduates to study abroad over the next three years.

The government has also confirmed that it has allocated more than US$118m to fund the Global Education Initiative

The money will fully fund study for 1500 graduates – up from the originally specified 1000 – to enrol on a graduate programme at one of the world’s top 300 universities – as ranked by the THE Rankings, QS World University Rankings and the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, provided graduates then return to work for a Russian company for a minimum of three years.

“The aim of this program is for Russia to adopt the best foreign practices in the field of education,” said Andrei Nikitin, General Director of Russia’s Agency for Strategic Initiatives, which is heading up the programme.

The announcement also coincided with another from the Federal Inspection Service for Education and Science that it had revoked the licenses of four universities, preventing them from enrolling new students.

More than 130 institutions have been stripped of their licences for a range of violations as part of an ongoing campaign to boost the quality of education nationwide.

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