Three challenges to Russian system of doctoral education: Why only one out of ten doctoral students defends thesis?
This paper is aimed at providing evidence on the experience of doctoral students at Russian universities in the era of significant institutional changes related to the shift from the “master-apprentice” model of doctoral education to the model of structured doctoral programs. Based on the results of a cross-institutional online-survey of doctoral students (N = 2,034) conducted in 16 leading Russian universities, three main barriers to the completion of doctoral programs were distinguished: (1) poor supervision, (2) lack of financing and forced need to have a paid job, (3) tough requirements and a lack of competences to fulfill them. We argue that the institutional transformations, which were implemented in the last seven years, did not solve these problems, and more efforts should be done to enhance the development of doctoral programs in Russian universities in order to overcome the modern crisis of doctorate in Russia.
Doctoral education has experienced dramatic changes all over the world in the last three decades. Currently, Russia is at the beginning of a doctoral education transformation to structured programs according to needs of knowledge-based economies. This paper aims to identify national-level barriers to PhD completion in Russian doctoral education. The data from the empirical study in highly selective Russian universities that participate in a special government program were employed. About 40% of all doctoral students participated in the Russian Federation study at these universities. The following problems were revealed and discussed in the research: (1) problems of transition to a structured model of doctoral education, (2) diffusion of doctoral education’s goals, (3) unpreparedness of Russian universities for the massive expansion of PhD education, (4) ineffective mechanisms of doctoral student selection, (5) a lack of funding and a need for doctoral students to have paid work, (6) excessive dependence on supervisors and (7) insufficient study time and skills for meeting the requirement for publications before the date of defence. Some problems correlate with the global challenges, but some are unique to the Russian institutional context. The relevance of the Russian case to understanding the worldwide transformation of the doctorate is discussed.
Institutions affect investment decisions, including investments in human capital. Hence institutions are relevant for the allocation of talent. Good market-supporting institutions attract talent to productive value-creating activities, whereas poor ones raise the appeal of rent-seeking. We propose a theoretical model that predicts that more talented individuals are particularly sensitive in their career choices to the quality of institutions, and test these predictions on a sample of around 95 countries of the world. We find a strong positive association between the quality of institutions and graduation of college and university students in science, and an even stronger negative correlation with graduation in law. Our findings are robust to various specifications of empirical models, including smaller samples of former colonies and transition countries. The quality of human capital makes the distinction between educational choices under strong and weak institutions particularly sharp. We show that the allocation of talent is an important link between institutions and growth.