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Regular version of the site

Article

Pandemic Effects on Russian Higher Education: Force Majeure Notes

Higher Education in Russia and Beyond. 2020. No. 27. P. 23-24.

The forced transition to distance learning in March 2020 was a stress test for the Russian higher education system. It affected all aspects of university life and demanded a radical restructuring of internal processes and principles. It also affected external communications with the regulator and other participants in the events, some of whom were not directly related to education, but began to play a decisive role in a pandemic (for example, the Russian Ministry of Health). Students, teachers and researchers were forced to adapt to the new conditions and to master new digital technologies and work methods, often experimenting on themselves, their colleagues and students through trial and error. The administration of universities and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MoSHE) needed to organize and provide infrastructure for this unprecedented "experiment" extremely quickly. Despite all the difficulties and problems, the Russian higher education system as a whole, passed this stress test. However, the pandemic has exposed a number of systemic challenges and problems that go beyond the current moment and are important for the development of higher education in general. One of these challenges is the ineffectiveness of hierarchical management models with declining institutional and academic autonomy. This text discusses this problem and reflects on solutions for restructuring universities in the post-pandemic period.