Ural Federal University: Victor Koksharov: Graduate Employment is the Main Measure of University Quality

It is obvious that Russian universities will not be able to work on improving the quality of education without the involvement of companies in the educational process. Victor Koksharov, the rector of Ural Federal University, said about it today; there was a presentation of the research about universities during the pandemic in Moscow.

“For example, at UrFU, employers are also involved at the design stage – they form a set of competencies, participate in the format discussion of future programs and curricula – and then work with students as mentors. In addition, they formulate the topics of graduate qualification works and participate in the defense of graduate qualification works as part of the attestation commissions,” Koksharov said.

According to the rector, the focus on practical training, due in part to the pandemic, has led to the active development of digital services. They, on the one hand, help employers see the full range of educational programs, on the other hand, allow the student to be more conscious in choosing a place of practice and build a career trajectory.

“Now, the task of leading universities is to make digital ecosystems created during the pandemic open to external stakeholders, and to introduce social activity of students and their part-time employment (according to our data, 80% of undergraduates combine work with studies) into the educational process,” Victor Koksharov added.

In turn, Dmitry Pumpyansky, a member of the bureau of the board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Ural Federal University, emphasized that the RUIE observes the cooperation between leading Russian students and employers: educational institutions go along with the times, introducing new competences into their educational programs, while major companies provide their resources – expert sites and training grounds for practical training of future specialists. All these processes, according to Pumpyansky, should go hand in hand, as they solve the common task of creating and bringing breakthrough products to the market.

“In the context of strategic challenges facing the Russian industry, the role of universities in import substitution and creation of breakthrough technological products is great – here it is not only the relevance of the obtained knowledge that matters. The demand from the economy has changed dramatically: a specialist should not only possess technology, but also have soft skills, as well as additional qualifications: the leading universities have already started restructuring by including digital competence modules in the educational core of engineering programs,” noted the head of the Supervisory Board.

Full transition of the higher school to the distance format is impossible, because it leads to the deterioration of the quality of education, said the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation Valery Falkov.

According to the head of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, the attitude to the mixed mode of study is becoming loyal: a reasonable combination of formats does not affect the quality, but the level of the digital infrastructure of the university is critical. Falkov also noted that the psychological well-being and mental health of students remains the focus of the ministry and researchers, who presented a comprehensive view of the quality of education, taking into account many factors.

Rectors of leading universities – participants in today’s presentation – emphasized that digital university systems have become the norm, and universities have become full participants in the IT market.

Research teams from 13 leading Russian universities, including UrFU, took part in the work, the results of which were presented today. Data on whether the quality of education has deteriorated since the pandemic began was collected from 36,000 students, 11% of whom are foreigners, 24,000 teachers and 800 parents.