How much university students learn in their studies is highly debated and important to
understanding the value of higher education. Yet, information on learning gains at this level
are scarce. Our paper contributes to the debate by using unique data for Brazil to estimate
absolute test score gains across various fields of study in higher education and to assess
whether students who attend certain categories of programs (public/private, research/non-
research, highly selective/less selective) make greater relative gains than in others. Our results
suggest that students in STEM fields tend to have higher absolute achievement gains compared
to students in humanities and pedagogical programs, and that in a few fields, such as civil
engineering and history, the relative gains for students in highly selective programs in that field
of study are significantly higher than if they had attended somewhat less selective programs.
However, students attending lowest quintile selective programs in a field of study have
consistently lower gains across a range of study fields than similar students attending programs
just one quintile higher. The results have important implications for the equity effects of higher
A huge increase in engineering graduates from the BRIC countries in recent decades potentially threatens the competitiveness of developed countries in producing high value-added products and services, while also holding great promise for substantially increasing the level of global basic and applied innovation. The key question is whether the quality of these new BRIC engineers will be high enough to actualize this potential. The objective of our study is to assess the evolving capacity of BRIC higher education systems to produce quali“ed engineering graduates. To meet this objective, we compare developments in the quality of undergraduate engineering programs across elite and non-elite higher education tiers within and across each BRIC country. To assess and compare the quality of engineering education across the BRIC countries, we use multiple sources of primary and secondary data gathered from each BRIC country from 2008 to 2011. In combination with this, we utilize a production function approach that focuses on key input-, process- and outcome-based indicators associated with the quality of education programs. Our analysis suggests that in all four countries, a minority of engineering students receives high quality training in elite institutions while the majority of students receive low quality training in non-elite institutions. Our analysis also shows how the BRIC countries vary in their capacity to improve the quality of engineering education.
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.
This article presents the results of a cross-institutional survey on PhD students’ supervision at Russian universities. It is aimed at answering three questions concerning (1) styles of PhD supervision and their prevalence, (2) the relation between supervision style and PhD students’ satisfaction with their supervisor, and (3) the relation between supervision style and PhD students’ expected time-to-degree. We propose the empirically driven categorization of six supervision styles: superhero, hands-off supervisor, research practice mediator, dialogue partner, mentor, and research advisor. The most problematic category, characterized by providing no help for PhD students, was named “hands-off supervisors.” For this category PhD students reported the lowest level of satisfaction, and the highest expected time-to degree. Nonetheless, the large share of PhD students who are satisfied with hands-off supervisors may evidence a presence of a disengagement compact between PhD students and supervisors in Russian universities. Two categories of supervisors characterized by the highest level of PhD students’ satisfaction and shortest expected time-to-degree were named “superheroes” and “mentors.” These supervisors are reported to perform managerial and expert functions, which emphasizes the critical importance of these functions.
Because higher education serves both public and private interests, the way it is conceived and “nanced is contested politically, appearing in different forms in different societies. What is public and private in education is a political…social construct, subject to various political forces, primarily interpreted through the prism of the state. Mediated through the state, this construct can change over time as the economic and social context of higher education changes. In this paper, we analyze through the stateђs “nancing of higher education how it changes as a public/private good and the forces that impinge on states to in”uence such changes. To illustrate our arguments, we discuss trends in higher education “nancing in the BRIC countries„Brazil, Russia, India, and China. We show that in addition to increased privatization of higher education “nancing, BRIC states are increasingly differentiating the “nancing of elite and non-elite institutions.
The system of higher education in Russia, as in many other countries, is in the midst of reforms related to the global trends of globalization and transformation to a knowledge economy. In order to successfully respond to these global challenges, it is necessary to improve the quality of the university sector and rethink the role of professors in enhancing academic productivity. A 20-year period of recession after the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a diversification of universities and teachers and resulted in both a sharp fall in academic salaries and a decline in the attractiveness of the academic profession. Since the professoriate constitutes the main source of academic productivity, this article assesses the consequences of the decline in the academic sector before the start of major reforms of academic salaries. Using the data from the ‘The Changing Academic Profession’ project (CAP-Russia 2012 subsample), we identified and evaluated the activities of the professoriate that determine the income of university staff. The results show that, in general, the number of publications positively affected academic salaries, but for certain indicators of research activity, the effects are ambiguous. Administrative duties are important for academic salaries, with a positive effect ranging from 15 to 51%. Seniority also has a positive impact on a professor’s salary. The most consistent results in the pre-reform period were obtained for National research universities (NRUs), where academic salaries are determined by research activity (articles in academic journals) and administrative duties. Salaries rise with seniority, which corresponds to the human capital theory (as well as alternative theories). Salaries in NRUs also reflect gender equality. The results of the study can be used to assess the consequences of the recession in the academic sector in Russia and as a baseline for analyzing current reforms in universities.
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.