Federal Universities: Innovative Development Perspectives

Federal universities are the driving force of the higher education reform in Russia. It is planned that by 2020 all of them will be among top 100 universities of the world. The processes of integration and merger of higher educational institutions are taking place all over the world, and the experts of Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation take into consideration such international practices which manifest the improvement of educational standards and higher international ratings.
According to the higher education conception elaborated by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, the work of the federal universities (FUs) must be oriented on solving geopolitical tasks, first and foremost among them being the innovative development of the regions. A successful development of FU is believed to lead to retargeting of the whole higher education system, in particular to reducing students admission to the specialties not currently in demand. Instead, among the first graduates of FU there will appear unique specialists capable of solving the specific problems of each region and working in priority-oriented branches of economy. As a result, the graduates of Northern (Arctic) Federal University will be carrying out the strategic plans of the region connected with the nuclear-powered cargo ship “Sevmorput” and “Belkomur” project. The graduates of Far Eastern Federal University will be suggested to develop international relations with the neighboring countries, for which purpose the institution trains specialists in Chinese, Japanese and Korean philology.
Integration of science, education and production in FUs must lead to practical application of the results of intellectual activity. It is close collaboration with manufacturers and entrepreneurs that turns federal universities into a promising source of manpower. In the course of time FUs will be able to replace all those expensive, supported by business-structures, corporate universities.
In future FUs will admit thousands of foreign students, which will lead to exchange of applied and scientific knowledge with foreign colleges and universities. The integrated data bases, e-libraries and information storages will consolidate the FUs into all-Russian educational network. As a result, we will be able to provide exporting of educational services and demonstrate competitive advantages of FUs on the international level.
The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation underlines the fact that the interests lie in human capital development rather than in trivial increase of the number of students. With this end in view in 2011-2013 it is planned to spend 48 mlrd. RUB for FUs from the state budget. The multi-channel funding of FU gives them the opportunity of free development and use of the newest equipment making possible the integration into the world’s scientific community. The programmes supporting Russian education being of the highest priority, the government is not intended to scrap them. In fact, in the conditions of the global financial crisis federal universities has been quick to suggest the regions the ways out from the complicated economical situation. The basis of the financial models of the new universities is public-private partnership, particularly the creation of special-purpose capital funds – endowments. Besides, great attention is paid to fundamental scientific research and to the creation of full-scale innovation environment around the universities, namely, business incubators, techno parks, venture funds, and engineering firms.
Federal universities are to become new growing-points of the country and its major development centres. Thanks largely to federal universities, Russia will increment in regions having stopped focusing the entire intellectual and industrial potential only in Moscow or St. Petersburg.