International Status Anxiety and Higher Education: The Soviet Legacy in China & Russia
This volume provides a critical perspective on the Soviet legacy of superpower competition in the higher education systems of China and Russia. The book examines the tensions among multi-level forces that strive to advance progressive university policies and practices on the one hand, and on the other hand work to restore old-style hyper-centralization and indoctrination. It tracks the de-Sovietization of higher education, which aimed to integrate Chinese and Russian universities into global higher education but resulted in inducing status anxiety in the global hierarchies of knowledge development.
This chapter begins with explanations of the historical transformations and peculiarities of the Soviet higher education system. It describes the Soviet government’s interpretations of university competitiveness, which have influenced the current state of the Russian higher education system. Then the chapter discusses the post-Soviet path of Russian universities in their search for balance between the de-Sovietization and Westernization of higher education. The discussion proceeds to outlining the new environment of global competition among universities, shaped by world university rankings and the rapid expansion of governmental policies in higher education. Finally, the chapter describes how the Russian government is reacting to the changing environment and the policies used to enhance higher education competitiveness. We consider, as a case study, the Russian excellence initiative in higher education – Project 5-100 – whose basic idea is that at least five Russian universities will be ranked among the world’s top 100 universities by 2020. Some lessons for future policies and questions for future research are formulated in the concluding part.
The chapter examines how the Russian federal government has been driving international student recruitment with attempts to force the modernization of higher education (HE) and promote soft power interests. We provide an overview of Soviet policies related to international student mobility, scrutinize the cyclic and multi-rational educational transformation that has been taking place since the 1990s, and reflect on the implications for the future. We explain the rationale of HE internationalization in contemporary Russia and show that the government’s reforms have focused on the political rationale inherited from Soviet times, combined with the heavy-handed modernization policy to fit in the context of global competition. This curious combination encourages higher education institutions to fixate on meeting government-led performance indicators, preserving the current structure of student mobility concentrated in a few institutions, and creating constraints for the development of academic excellence in Russian HE.