The resulting evaluation of the funds’ activities was rather neutral or negative than positive. It was an illustrative fact that the share of negative assessments was higher in the regions most remote from Moscow or St. Petersburg, since a most frequent reproach was that around the funds there had formed established groups of grant recipients, primarily consisting of Moscow and St. Petersburg researchers. No doubt that the researchers who did not receive any grants from the funds or received such grants seldom were most negatively minded. Many of the respondents belonging to this group shared the opinion that the funds are unable to support innovative ideas since in the course of selection of projects they take guidance from such criteria as opinions of the authoritative scientific society, which supports only established theories and concepts and evaluates the proposed projects depending on how well they fit in the structure of other studies It concerns three state funds – RFFR, RHSF and the Fund for promotion of small enterprises in the scientific and technical sphere.
Rossiyskaya ekonomika v 2002 godu: tendentsii i perspektivy. Issue 24. M.: IET, 2003, p.304.
in a certain scientific school and the degree to which the proposed method of research is time tested. In other words, funds are supporting the “normal science” (according to T. Kun) and not the “competing paradigms,” therefore it impossible to achieve a scientific breakthrough in the framework of grant financing.
Funds were also characterized as a mechanism giving rise to a new form of sponging, since the requirements to the results of the studies supported by the funds are much softer than to contracts.
It should be noted that respondents’ opinions mainly based on their personal experience of dealing with domestic funds. On the whole, the respondents lacked information about funds operating in the country:
researchers primarily knew domestic state funds – RFFR, RHSF, the Fund for promotion of small enterprises in the scientific and technical sphere, as well as 5 to 7 foreign funds (INTAS, ISTC, the Civilian Research and Development Fund (CRDF), McArthurs Foundation, TACIS, NATO programs).
The respondents prizing the grant system stated that today grants are the only possibility to survive and work, visit conferences, purchase equipment, connect to Internet, i.e. in fact maintained that the scientific process is based exclusively on grants. Another positive feature of the grant system was that they provided moral incentives for work, disciplined, taught to formulate research objectives, manage research teams, study scientific management. It was also noted that grants are very important for young researchers not only as material support, but as a means teaching to carry out independent scientific research, a way to get rid of infantilism characteristic of the community of young scientists.
On the whole, there was detected a very emotional and biased attitude to scientific funds. No doubt, some of complaints could have been unfair in the case grants were a source supplementing the base financing.
However, exactly because today funds have to perform a number of irrelevant tasks substituting for other sources of financing, the level of respective expectations is set too high, even crucially high. It is a characteristic fact that while the attitude to funds was very much biased, there was voiced no criticism concerning the distribution of 91.5 per cent of budget resources carried out outside the funds. But it is a well known fact that these resources are primarily expended for maintenance of buildings, payment of communal services, and wages, salaries, and relating bonuses.
According to the respondents, it is of primary importance that the funds pay more attention to the programs aimed at the financing of the material and informational base of the scientific process, as well as those creating incentives for institutional changes, including support of innovative activities. Therefore, the survey revealed that as concerns the further development of science, researchers rely rather on the funds than the state and expect that the funds assume all major responsibilities relating to the creation of conditions suitable for scientific activities.
There was also found out that the funds operate in certain information “vacuum” and lack feedback. As a rule, the funds only announce programs and place application forms on their web sites or publish such information in mass media. However, they very seldom try to inform researchers about the procedures governing selection of projects, names of the experts evaluating applications, changes in priorities and principles of their operation, as well as the results of their programs.
The state attitude to the funds was clearly revealed by the recent incidents and it would hardly facilitate the changes in the funds’ policies making them more transparent, objective, and less clan-oriented (the latter accusation was most frequent with respect to both domestic and foreign funds). Besides, the trend towards insufficient budget financing of the state funds may persist, what may seriously endanger the financial well being of the Russian scientific complex in the situation where foreign (especially American) financing of the Russian science is declining. As a matter of fact, in 2003 several large US state agencies, which financed different initiatives in the sphere of science and education in Russia, announced about the completion of their programs, what affected both natural and social sciences. Although Russia is more actively participating in different EU initiatives, it does not compensate for losses suffered as the result of closing of the US programs. First, the presence of the US programs and funds was most significant over the whole post-Soviet period, and, second, the European Union admits Russia not as an equal, but only as a supplement partner, and Russian scientists may have to work in the framework of projects in which Europe, but not necessarily Russia, is interested.
As concerns the prospects of development of tender based mechanism of financing of the Russian science on the whole, certain hopes may be pinned on the reform of the system of Federal Targeted Programs (FTP), a number of which relate to the sphere of science.
In the sphere of science and technology, FTP were always seen not as a real mechanism of tender based financing, but as yet another way of redistribution of budget financing with very soft reporting requirements.
Obligations of both customers and contractors were formal. In the sphere of science and technology, the majority of FTP were formed yet in the Soviet time and have been only cosmetically adjusted since then.
Besides, there were too many such programs, what resulted in the dilution of financial resources (on the whole, it is characteristic of the state program financing).
At present, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade proposes to increase the share of state expenditures distributed on the principles of program targeted financing in the budget from 8.7 per cent (in 2003) to 40 per cent and tighten the control over the utilization of financial resources. The tightening of control envisages that only the Cabinet of Ministers would have the right to make current amendments to the running programs, while the heads of state agencies – clients should be personally responsible for the attainment of respective objectives and utilization of financial resources. At last it was recognized that targeted expenditures are more progressive and the maximal increase in the share of such financing will result in a more efficient expenditure of budget resources. For instance, it is planned that the development of innovation activities will be financed via the FTP mechanism. The Russian Academy of Science, one of the main lobbyist of the interests of science in the Government, will to a certain extent determine the degree to which the use of the FTP mechanism is expanded in the sphere of science and technology.
I. Dezhina Education The experimental approbation of the Single State Examination (SSE) envisaging the integration of final school examinations and entrance examinations of the higher education institutions permitted to more clearly detect both positive and negative outcomes of this innovation remaining in the center of an active public discussion.
The scale of the experiment concerning the introduction of the single state examination (SSE) has been significantly increased. The number of the RF subjects participating in the experiment increased from 5 in 2001 to 47 in 2003 (see Table 1). The number of students passing final and entrance (higher education institutions) examinations in the form of SSE increased from 30 thousand registered in 2001 to almost thousand in 2003. The number of non-specialized educational establishments, which had introduced SSE, increased from 2845 in 2001 to 18130 in 2003, while the number of state institutions of higher professional education and their branches accepting entrants basing on the SSE results increased from 16 in 2001 to in 2003. There has also increased the number of secondary vocational training establishments accepting school graduates basing on their SSE results (from 79 in 2001 to 928 in 2003). In 2003, it was agreed upon that institutions of higher education and secondary vocational training establishments run by 20 federal ministries and departments should participate in the experiment.
Indicators of participation in the experimental introduction of SSE 2001 2002 2003 (planned) Number of RF subjects participating in the SSE 5 16 47 experiment Number of students passed SSE, thous. 30 300 700 Number of subjects of study for which SSE was 8 9 12 introduced Number of higher education institutions and their 16 117 464 - branches participating in the SSE experiment Number of secondary vocational training 0 79 928 - establishments participating in the SSE experiment Number of ministries and departments participating in 3 10 20 - the SSE experiment Source: RF Ministry of Education The further implementation of the experiment in 2002 / 2003 school year was accompanied by the development of the normative base, organizational, material, and technical resource potentials:
• There were revised and worked out new normative documents and instruction materials regulating the contents and procedures pertaining to SSE, the work of State Examination Commissions (SEC) and conflict commissions, organization of enrollment in institutions of higher education and secondary vocational training establishments participating in the experiment;
• There were worked out control and measurement materials relating to 12 general education subjects;
• There was improved the technology of SSE;
• The work on the update and creation of federal and regional databases as concerns the approbation of the federal base of SSE results certificates was continued;
• There were trained specialists ensuring SSE operation (organizers, operators, members of subject commission examining knowledge of respective subjects of study, etc.);
• In 47 RF subjects there were worked out the schemes of the experiment, regional programs of organization of SSE, regional normative, instruction, and methodological documents and materials, databases of school graduates, measures of control over SSE, etc.;
• There were determined and implemented the schemes of material, technical, and financial support of RF subjects participating in the experiment at the expense of the funds of the Federal program for the development of education (FPDE) and the Federal targeted program “Development of the uniform educational and informational environment (2001 – 2005)”;
• There was organized and carried out the delivery of equipment to 47 RF subjects, built new communication lines;
• There were implemented measures aimed at the involvement of 464 institutions of higher education and 928 secondary vocational training establishments in the experiment (there were agreed upon the specialties opened for school graduates passed SSE, entrance procedures, organization of enrollment, use of federal databases as concerns the SSE results certificates, etc.);
• There was organized the work on informing interested organizations, educational establishments participating in the experiment, and mass media about the preparation and implementation of the experiment via the special SSE web site (www.ege.edu.ru).
The total expenditures for SSE borne by the FPDE in 2003 made Rub. 586.6 million, including remuneration for the elaboration of tests, training of specialists, purchase of equipment and other expenditures. The average expenditures per a region participating in the experiment made Rub. 12.5 million in 2003.
The evaluation of the outcomes of the SSE experiment voiced at the meeting of the Board of the RF Ministry of Education in the 4th quarter of 2003 demonstrated that in the RF subjects participating in the experiment the mobility of school graduates enrolled in institutions of higher education increased, the total number of contestants for enrollment grew, there was also registered an increase in the number of rural school graduates participating in the entrance contests and enrolled in higher education institutions, many graduates could enroll without leaving their places of residence.
An analysis of the results demonstrated by first year students carried out at a number of higher education institutions participating in the experiment revealed that the correlation between the results of SSE and the first examinations at higher education establishments was more significant than the correlation between the results of traditional entrance examinations and the progress demonstrated by students.
According to the participants of the meeting held by the Board of the RF Ministry of Education, the introduction of the system of public observers over the SSE implementation in 2003 resulted in higher public confidence and permitted to better control SSE organization.
On the whole, according to the assessments voiced by the RF Ministry of Education, over three years the SSE experiment:
• Confirmed the possibility to attain objectives set forth at the beginning of SSE implementation;
• Demonstrated the real possibility to combine state final attestation of school graduates and entrance examinations of higher education institutions;
• Permitted to solve the technical problems pertaining to the use of control and measurement materials for SSE.
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