Building a World-Class University and the Role of the University Rankings: A Russian Case
Сборник докладов по проблемам современного образования и научных исследований в области рекламы и PR
The Global Academic Rankings Game provides a much-needed perspective on how countries and universities react to academic rankings. Based on a unified case methodology of eleven key countries and academic institutions, this comprehensive volume provides expert analysis on this emerging phenomenon at a time when world rankings are becoming increasingly visible and influential on the international stage. Each chapter provides an overview of government and national policies as well as an in-depth examination of the impact that rankings have played on policy, practice, and academic life in Australia, Chile, China, Germany, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United Sates. The Global Academic Rankings Game contributes to the continuing debate about the influence of rankings in higher education and is an invaluable resource for higher education scholars and administrators as they tackle rankings in their own national and institutional contexts.
Глобализация и усиление конкуренции среди вузов, борьба за талантливых ученых и студентов приводят к тому, что во всем мире правительства, академическая общественность, студенты и их родители внимательно следят за результатами глобальных академических рейтингов. И хотя эти рейтинги подвергаются критике за непрозрачные методологии построения или нерелевантные индикаторы, правительства и руководства вузов предпринимают серьезные попытки для продвижения в них национальных университетов.
The great expansion of participation in higher education in Russia in the post-Soviet period was the layered and contradictory result of both conditions established in the Soviet period, and the structuring of reforms after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. The Soviet government was strongly committed to the expansion of education across the country, and gender equality was achieved at that time. In the 1990s and 2000s enrolments more than doubled, though the growth of numbers has been reversed since 2008 because of demographic decline of the relevant age cohorts. Employing Trow’s analysis of the growth of higher education systems and Hirsch’s concept of positional goods, among other conceptual approaches, as well as statistical, national, and comparative survey data, this paper analyses social dynamics of the process of increasing participation and equalization of opportunity in Russia. The dramatic higher education expansion in Russia was largely associated with the positional value of higher education credentials, in a society in which the Soviet system of social status had been discontinued, and a new system of status was being built on the basis of post-Soviet rules (which are still evolving). Driven by family aspirations and resources, massification has largely rested on the part-privatisation of the costs of higher education, part of a neoliberal reform package common to the post-Soviet countries. However, higher education expansion has not brought about greater social equity. Expansion, fee-based financing and policy measures such as university excellence initiatives have tended to strengthen the institutional and social stratification of the higher education system, weakening social mobility and social equality.
This paper studies transformations in the role of higher education in Russia as represented in official Soviet and post-Soviet policy documents between the 1950s and 2013. The focus is on the categories defining the purposes and tasks of higher education in the larger context of society and economy. There is a basic dichotomy in relation to the purposes and role of higher education, between vocational training (which is seen as a determining factor in the economic development) and personal development/education (seen as a condition of social development). The balance of these two poles, economic instrumentalism and social instrumentalism, changes throughout the history. The Soviet documents emphasized the importance of both, with the predominance of the social instrumentalism. The transitional period of the late 1980s and early 1990s is characterized by increasing humanistic discourse in regard to higher education. Later post-Soviet documents, reflecting neoliberal policies, largely abandon social instrumentalism and more exclusively promote the economic role of higher education. Economic instrumentalism is the meeting point of two historical eras, with their respective ideologies and political agendas. Connecting Soviet and neoliberal discourses highlights the importance of historical legacies in regard to the economic, applied nature of higher education, and underlines the crucial role of the state, which facilitated acceptance of neoliberal agendas in Russian society. The analysis also contributes to further understanding of the nature of the neoliberal reforms globally and in post-socialist countries.
Global university rankings have become an increasingly influential tool for measuring and verifying academic excellence. Today, it is hard to find a country where higher education policy and leading universities totally ignore the issue of global competitiveness and rankings as public measures of academic quality. The persuasiveness of global rankings has challenged national perceptions about higher education development and involved governments and hundreds of universities in the so-called “ranking game” (Hazelkorn, 2014; Kehm, 2014). At the same time, we can observe different reactions by universities whose institutional strategies were imposed by the fact of being ranked. These reactions concern not only changes in external images and institutional strategies, but also internal changes of formal structures and identities (Gioia, Thomas, Clark, & Chittipeddi, 1994; Espeland & Sauder, 2007; Sauder & Espeland, 2009; Colyvas, 2012). Furthermore, the reactions differ not only between universities of high and low ranks (Hazelkorn, 2007), but also between universities embedded in different academic systems. Following Clark (1983) and Maassen (1996), it can be argued that institutional context—which consists of elements related to disciplinary culture, the academic profession, and political culture—determines the different reaction by universities to global rankings.
In this chapter, we present the case of a university that has recently entered the race for global academic excellence. Our analysis addresses two important issues. We demonstrate how an abstract idea of global rankings is translated into practice in a university embedded in a specific institutional context. We also show how coupling between academic and administrative structures is organized under the pressure of global rankings.