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Russia: future of Project 5-100 uncertain

The future of Russia’s flagship higher education internationalisation initiative, Project 5-100, has been called into question after the new minister for education and science, Olga Vasilyeva, warned there may be changes to the project.

“The budget should be spent very carefully," warned Russia's new minister for education and science, Olga Vasilyeva. Photo: Kremlin.

“The programme involves huge investments... The budget should be spent very carefully”

Vasilyeva, who took over the role from Dmitry Livanov in August, has also suspended the consolidation of a number of universities within Russia.

“There is a possibility of the revision of the Project 5-100”

“We are currently suspending any further consolidations of Russian universities for an indefinite period of time. As part of these plans, there is a possibility of the revision of the Project 5-100,” she said.

“The programme involves huge investments in the development of certain local universities; however, there is a big question, whether these funds will be repaid,” she said.

“The budget should be spent very carefully.”

The consolidation strategy includes merging elite and weaker higher education institutions to strengthen the overall quality of the Russian higher education system and establish centres of excellence in specialist disciplines.

However, the process, which began in 2015, has drawn criticism from universities and students due to reports that mergers have so far been ineffective and led to large-scale layoffs.

Despite the minister’s comments, a spokeswoman for Project 5-100 told The PIE News: “Right now Project 5-100 is implemented and there are not any official documents regarding its termination or revision.”

She added that shortly after taking up her ministerial role in August, Vasilyeva had attended a forum where Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev identified the internationalisation of higher education as a priority for the government.

Speaking at the meeting of the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and High-Priority Projects, Medvedev urged: “We need to leverage our leading universities as a springboard for promotion of innovation so that they can commercialise their intellectual output.

“Second, we should enhance their competitiveness in the global market for education and research services and dig in at high ranks in international ratings.”

Propelling five of Russia’s universities into the top 100 of the global higher education league tables is the eponymous aim of Project 5-100, though its deputy executive director, Nadezhda Polikhina, explained that rankings are “the objective thing to measure the success but not the ultimate goal” of the initiative.

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