“Regional flagship” university model in Russia: searching for the third mission incentives
This study seeks to explore the incentive factors that serve to instigate university engagement in the third-mission agenda based on evidence drawn from the Russian system of higher education. We pay special attention to how the split of natural and externally induced drivers of the third mission has changed from the Soviet era and up until the immediate modernity. Our analysis has shown that the balance of these two types of incentives never remained flat over the course of history as the Russian university system encountered and had to address different challenges and imperatives at various points in time. We have also found that, while federal initiatives have been adopted by the Russian state that have created a distinctive cohort of universities entrusted with comprehensively contributing to the socio-economic and innovative potential of their host localities as a top-priority task, the third-mission agenda is by no means reduced solely to this very group of institutions, as there are many other universities that are not directly expected to focus on the third mission, but which still favor pursuing proactive and fruitful collaborations with regional stakeholders as arguably representing one of the crucial factors in long-term university sustainability.
The New Flagship University provides an expansive vision for leading national universities and an alternative narrative to global rankings and World Class Universities that dominate the attention of many universities, as well as government ministries. The New Flagship model explores pathways for universities to re-shape their missions and academic cultures, and to pursue organizational features intended to expand their relevancy in the societies that give them life and purpose. In this quest, international standards of excellence focused largely on research productivity are not ignored, but are framed as only one goal towards supporting a university's productivity and larger social purpose—not as an end unto itself. Chapters by contributing authors detail the historical and contemporary role of leading national university in Asia, South America, Russia, and Scandinavia, and consider how the New Flagship model might be applied and expanded on.
The problem of identifying the leading universities in a country is rather easy to solve, one may focus, for example, on highly cited papers (e.g. Tijssen, Visser & van Leeuwen, 2002; Pislyakov & Shukshina, 2014; Abramo & D’Angelo, 2015) or other indicators of excellence. Sometimes it is more challenging to find the universities of "the second wave" which deserve to receive additional governmental help and budget because then they may become the most prominent ones and, so to say, enter the “Eredivisie”, the highest football league. It is a more difficult task to find first among the seconds than to find the firsts among all.
The chapter aims to explore the special model of flagship universities that emerged in the former socialist Soviet system and analyse their contemporary transition. A planned state economy requires the development of a sophisticated hierarchical typology of higher education institutions with flagship universities positioned at the top of the hierarchy. The Soviet higher education model was different from those found in other parts of the world because of its officially assigned special leadership roles. Soviet flagship universities provided support for other universities in national or regional contexts. This support included the training of teaching staff, curriculum development, and quality control. Flagship universities had exclusive opportunities to conduct research. The first part of the chapter highlights the differences between these flagship universities and the rest of the higher education system.
After the collapse of Soviet Union the hierarchical model of Russian higher education has changed under the influence of market forces, private education, and increasing competition between universities. These changes have affected flagship universities. The second part of the paper examines the reasons why some former flagship universities lost their special role, why some flagship universities managed to keep or strengthen their role, and, why several new leadership universities have emerged. The chapter describes the transformation, changes of internal features and attributes of former leading universities on the path to the contemporary models of flagship universities. The end of the paper discusses the basic factors that allow leading universities in Russia to become contemporary flagship universities.
The material is presented as a conceptual article. The aim of the article is to define the development pattern of flagship universities that take particular place in the national system of higher education both in Soviet and post-Soviet times. The research design includes analysis of historic materials, regulative documents reflecting the peculiarities of higher education development in the Soviet times and in modern Russia. The research identifies three main stages of flagship university development. The first stage is characterized by flagship university development in the context of direct administration of the state whereas university «flagshipness» was restricted to a particular place in the educational system. The next stage suggested decreasing roles of flagship universities in the context of university autonomy and sharp decline of state involvement (1990s). At present flagship university development happens in the context of state participation with the aim of creating new educational network structure (2000 till present). At that moment two types of flagship universities are arising: multi-profile universities combining research mission with the mission of mega-region development and infrastructure universities driving regional development. In future it seems reasonable to conduct a series of interviews with representatives of flagship university administration in order to identify quality characteristics of these universities development in the context of national educational system development tasks.
Approaches to innovation have been thoroughly studied in the last decades. It’s well understood that an organizations’ culture is among the crucial factors for success and renewal of organizations. Yet culture is made by people and their attitudes. Innovation culture requires skills and competence by employees which are presumably beyond the traditional basic knowledge taught at undergraduate, graduate and post graduate level. This is even more evident for university graduates who’re mainly finding professional careers in the private sector who has special requirements to employees. Graduates’ skills are strongly influenced by curricula and the cultural values and norms outside curricula transferred by universities to students. But frequently these skills are designed by universities without profound knowledge of the actual skills required. At the same time organizations acting as potential graduates employers value researcher skills and competencies differently from how these are perceived. The paper suggests that understanding the professional and universal skills of researchers perceived and needed is one element of innovation culture. Thereby the skills in discussion go beyond purely academic skills only; instead it is proposed that skills which increase the absorptive capacity of companies are crucial for implementing effective productive innovation management.
The role of the governments in the development and operation of universities in the emerging countries is being significantly transformed by the global agenda. There are a lot of evidences that governments’ aimed at the establishment of the world-class universities increase their interference in higher education systems and even in the operation of particular institutions. Governments set tasks for universities related to the accelerated increase of their global competitiveness by launching so-called excellence-initiatives in higher education. Consequently, the matter of the changing autonomy of the higher education institutions participating in excellence initiatives arises.
There are academic and expert discussions arguing that the implementation of excellence initiatives is in large degree irrelevant to national and local challenges. The question arises whether governments should specifically set national and local objectives for world-class universities, or whether the growth of global competitiveness brings benefits for national and local challenges. Through the analysis of excellence initiatives, this chapter shows that in most cases governments do not specify the objectives related to national and local contribution. This chapter presents a study that examines the implementation of the Russian excellence initiative, Project 5-100, which aims to have at least five universities participating in the project in the top 100 world rankings by 2020. This initiative ignores potential direct national and local contribution. At the same time, the experience of the Russian initiative shows that participating universities purposefully develop nationally and locally relevant activities while they move towards global competitiveness without government pressure. The chapter discusses why these objectives are interrelated.
The article discusses a model for the evaluation of universities and science in general from the point of view of university engagement in the socio-economic environment. The authors conducted a scientometric analysis of the topical area. The primary goal was the identification of various interrelations between some classical scientometric indicators and alternative ones, most clearly reflecting the interaction of science, society, and industry. Three countries were chosen as the object of the study and the five most appropriate research areas. Based on a comparative analysis, we can conclude that traditional scientometric indicators correlate quite well with indicators of social and commercial relevance of scientific research. However, we did not observe this relationship in the case of Brazil; thus, we can infer the influence of the national and disciplinary context. Quantitative indicators are not enough for the evaluation of university engagement, and we do need peer review here.