As noted above, employers fresh Bachelors do not receive a warm welcome from prospective employers. Needless to say, it will be very hard for them to tell a “normal”, academic Bachelor from an applied one, which is why they will project their negative sentiments onto the latter, too. Meanwhile, cashing in budget funds for tuition while their students are busy working a full day, universities will turn against the proposed measure, particularly in light of a fast contraction of student cohorts due to demographic reasons (for it is far less profitable to teach a student for three years than five years, and in the latter case - with no trouble whatsoever). Students who work and earn the record of service and professional experience required on the labor market and, at the same time, earn money and, ultimately, a university diploma demanded by employers, appear yet far less keen to change the status quo.
Section Social Sphere Plus, should, upon introduction of the applied Bachelor’s program, the secondary vocational training system be retained (and the Expert Group proposes so), the mess on the labor market would reach its acme, for it seems to us the employer would still favor specialty graduates or Masters, or, at least, leavers from special secondary educational institutions.
The Expert Group believes there is a need in legislative modification of the budgetsponsored university admission procedures. Universities currently appear restricted solely by USE marks by liberal arts which evidence that the aspirant has mastered the school program.
As a result, engineering universities admit students who have scored in mathematics just out of 100. In view of that, it is proposed to introduce for aspirants to budget-sponsored tuition a minimum threshold of quality of knowledge across profile subjects, which should vary by year depending on the school leavers’ performance, but cut off the least trained nonetheless.
We think this approach deprives the General Certificate of Education of any significance.
Besides, it abuses school leavers’ constitutional rights, as they prove to be rejected budgetsponsored tuition beforehand, prior to submission of an enrollment application to a specific university. It should also be taken into account that in compliance with the effective Act “On education” and the bill “On education in Russian Federation”, no less than a certain number of students should study at public and municipal universities at the budget’s expense. But the Expert Group argues that the minimum threshold of quality of knowledge constitutes an element of the enrollment competition that does not infringe the aspirants’ constitutional rights.
That said, universities’ performance should be put under control, including running an independent assessment of students’ performance, universities’ operational transparence, other kinds of monitoring to assess the quality of student cohorts, faculty, conditions of tuition.
The Expert Group also proposed to create conditions for competition between universities in the course of allocation of public order, namely, to replace the allocation of control figures in advance with allocation of budget funds by results of admission. As well, the Group galvanized an old proposal to have students with higher scores secure a greater budget funding for their universities than students with lower ones. It de facto means revisiting the concept of state personalized financial obligations (SPFO) in the form of SPFO-2, with just two categories of those (in the past, there were five categories of SPFO). That is to say, if an aspirant scores between 85 to 100 at USE, the university collects Rb.200,000 in budget allocations, to 85 –Rb 100,000. Those aspirants who scored between 35 and 60 will have to pay for tuition, while the rest will not be entitled to admission at all. Whereas the best students today chiefly opt for socio-economic, humanitarian specialties and ICT, the respective universities will be eligible for a sizeable budget funding; by contrast, while, as noted above, “technical” universities are more “funding-intensive”, they will receive smaller amounts of budget funds.
Ultimately, there will arise the need to introduce a multiplying coefficient to ensure their normal functioning. In short, the concept of SPFO-2 so far seems poorly designed and, furthermore, it does not help solve the urgent task of the country’s technological modernization, which will grow yet more urgent by 2020.
The Expert Group also proposes special allocations to the federal and national research universities, MSU and StPSU, and other high-profile universities, as they are set to climb to the international level of tuition and research activity. The Expert Group believes that the move would allow attraction therein foreign professors and ensure normal conditions of tuition for foreign students. Plus, a greater volume of spending on research and higher wages would fuel Russian researchers’ eagerness to stick to home turf.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks So, according to the Expert Group, graduates from the above universities will receive a world-class education, the influx of foreign students therein should rise, and the universities’ research capacity will increase, too, which will justify (efficiency-wise) their higher standards of funding.
Overall, the above proposals by Expert Group No. 7 can be assessed as a holistic request to the government to allocate extra budget funding to public universities with no clear return on that. In the period between 2005 and 2011 alone, budget financing of the system of high education rose 3.4 times in nominal terms and doubled in real terms1, while the quality of tertiary education did not increase but plummet. Singling out leading universities and their priority budget funding perhaps could make a difference, but for that particular segment of tertiary education only, while its other segments would continue degrading at an accelerated pace.
So, it can be concluded that while Strategy-2020 for the educational system has been formally prepared, but main challenges facing this sphere remained unsolved and demand adequate remedies.
5.4. State of Science and Innovation in The scientific sphere saw continuation of the measures initiated between 2009 and 2010.
The Russian research complex displayed certain positive shifts, though they fell short of being of magnitude sufficient to be mirrored by statistics. There also were alarm bells: specifically, against the backdrop of increasing budget appropriations for civil science Russian researchers’ publication activity continued to decline.
The Government implemented its innovation policy with much vigor: the i-city Skolkovo project advanced at a very high pace, new institutions of development emerged, and the project on formation of technological platforms was launched.
5.4.1. The R&D Funding The budget financing of civil R&D in 2011 in current prices posted a robust 20.9%2 increase and hit Rb 287bn. The figure accounted for 3.07% of the federal budget spending (in 2010 – 2.35%). Meanwhile, it is worth noting a parallel increase in extrabudgetary funding of science. That said, the budgetary to extrabudgetary R&D funding ratio remained at the level (65:35). So, budget sources still dominated the structure of R&D financing.
The policy with regard to allocation of budget funds was changing towards increase in the proportion of competition-based financing under public contracts, which posted a 37.3% increase. This is a positive development indeed, as competition suggests picking the best projects. Meanwhile, according to leading university presidents and research organizations executives, the basic financing, like before, proved short of covering the institutions’ maintenance and research process costs. Accordingly, the stochaticity in the financing of science did not reduce, as the constant (outside the competition area) budget financing was insufficient to ensure implementation of long-term research projects.
Another serious tendency became the shrinking role played by competition-based grant financing through the system of scientific foundations as a specific conduit. Despite all the official documents trumpeting the pivotal role of the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Re See subsection “Financing of Education” above Data for 2011 are given in accordance with Federal Law of 13 December 2010 No. 357-FZ “On the federal budget for 2011 and the planned period 2012 and 2013” Section Social Sphere search (RFFR) and the Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation (RHSF), their actual standing remained very complex. In 20011, their budgets were small, particularly in contrast with the amount of public funding of R&D under public agencies’ lots in the framework of federal target programs (FTPs).
The Foundations’ budgets were first axed back in 2010. (Fig. 15). Average amounts of their grants have not increased ever since and accounted for Rb 370,000 per a team of up to 10 persons at RFFR and 400,000 – at RHSF1. What is more, actual funds spent on research account for between 60 and 40% of the grant total, with the rest being various taxes and overheads.
RHSF RFFR 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Sources: http://www.ras.ru/news/news_release.aspxID=e251689c-6b6d-48b1-a819-ab2bbbae9531. The art of combining. An interview with Acad. V. Panchenko, Chairman of RHSF// Poisk, No. 17, 29 April 2011, p. 6.
Report on the RHSF performance. The meeting of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences of 31 May 2011. http://www.ras.ru/news/news_release.aspxID=e251689c-6b6d-48b1-a819-ab2bbbaeFig. 15. Dynamics of Budgets of the Public Foundations, RHSF,RFFR, in 2006–Miserable budgets are not the only challenge facing grant-awarding research foundations.
Their organizational-legal status still remained murky, which is why every year, when the annual federal budget is formed, they find themselves under the Damocles’ sword of being crossed out of the list of main managers of budget funds. Federal Law No. 249-FZ2,which became effective as of 1 October 2011 and which specifies the status of foundations for support of research, scientific and technical, and innovation activities, fell short of solving the problem. The Law in question introduces the concepts of public and non-government funds and specifies that the former may be established in the form of budget or autonomous institutions, while financing of research projects is exercised at the expense of grants. However, the Law fails to clarify peculiarities of funding of RFFR and RHSF. More specifically, there is no single reference therein to the Foundations being entitled to the status of main managers of budget funds or, as an alternative, being recognized as critical budget institutions.
Report on the RHSF performance. The meeting of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences of May 2011. http://www.ras.ru/news/news_release.aspxID=e251689c-6b6d-48b1-a819-ab2bbbae9531. The art of combining. An interview with Acad. V. Panchenko, Chairman of RHSF// Poisk, No. 17, 29 April 2011, p. 6.
Federal Law of July 2011 No. 249-FZ «On introducing amendments to the Federal Law “On science and the scientific-technical policy” and Art. 251 Part Two of the Tax Code of Russian Federation with respect to specifying the legal status of foundations for support of research, scientific-technical and innovation activity”.
Rb mn RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks That said, regardless of all the drawbacks of their current mechanism of allocation of funds, foundations can be viewed as a more progressive and transparent vehicle to support science than the competition-based financing procedure in the frame of FTPs. When compared with tenders held by federal agencies, the undisputable pluses of the grant-based form of funding lie in the refusal to apply the criteria used in the course of public procurement to evaluation of scientific projects, as well as in the broadness with which such grants encompass individual researchers and research teams, which proves far greater than the one displayed by FTPs’ projects. Besides, the Foundations strive to bolster transparency of their operations: more specifically, today, applicants for RFFR grants have access to reviews and comments to their applications1, which is equally important both for researchers in the course of implementation of their projects and for increasing experts’ responsibility for their conclusions.
The Foundations were de-facto required to “prove the operational efficiency”, nonetheless, and by analogue to FTPs, to set up target indicators, in particular. The indicators the Foundations currently put forward may result in a biased, rather than more objective, assessment of their performance. Thus, it is planned to increase the proportion of applied projects, which is most likely to result in a greater support of such projects to the detriment of purely fundamental ones. As well, the share of projects whose results match or exceed the international level (with no clear ways of identification of the latter) is set for increase. Likewise, the share of PhDs and Drs in the age of up to 39 years among contributors to projects should grow.2 It is common knowledge that when such an indicator becomes an imperative, it is not a big deal to give a statistical boost to the number of young researchers. Meanwhile, there is no explanation as to why the indicator of publication activity and citation, which proves the most adequate one, as far as assessment of outcomes and level of research under the Foundation’s grants, was not included in the list of major indicators.
In addition, under the pressure from inspecting instances the Foundation were compelled to modify or even terminate some important and useful for researchers programs. More specifically, RFFR will no longer award grants to partake in scientific conferences, as the Accounting Chamber auditors considered that a “scientific tourism”. That said, many research organizations lack funds to send their fellows to conferences, especially overseas. That gave rise to a dj vu situation, when, like in 1990s, Russian scientists find themselves reliant on the hosts, who, unlike the then crisis time in Russian science, are now often reluctant to incur the costs in question.