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Combating Russian brain drain
Combating Russian brain drain
Recently, the Russian government has been paying increased attention
to science and education, primarily as part of its declared
modernization program, and also as part of the ongoing review
It should be noted that the intellectual and innovative potential
of Russian researchers and engineers remains high and
This is why one of Russia’s key goals is to create an efficient system that will stop brain drain and foster technologically advanced and socially attractive conditions for developing, patenting and implementing scientific and innovative projects inside the country.
The Skolkovo innovation center is already becoming an important part of the system. But it is also clear that a single center cannot prevent brain drain. Russia must create an entire network of innovative growth centers in many of its regions. Prime Minister Putin and the new management of the Strategic Initiatives Agency understand this, as they’ve made clear in their public statements.
Making the education and research programs of Russian universities more
The key here is to develop Master’s programs. Baccalaureate
education — although there have been discussions about
However, education programs alone cannot solve the problem of brain
drain. On the contrary, there is a risk that
The solution to this problem will undoubtedly have to involve setting up powerful and globally competitive research centers at Russia’s leading universities and really involving postgraduates in their programs, as well as creating institutional ties between universities and corporations, which will allow applied corporate research to be formalized as Ph. D. theses. This can be achieved by cooperation between universities and interested companies, involving specialized Ph. D. programs and reserved positions. Organizations like the Association of Leading Universities, associations of industrialists and entrepreneurs and the newly founded Strategic Initiatives Agency can play a very important role here by creating the necessary interface to promote cooperation.
It should also be noted that Russian Ph. D. programs are currently not sufficiently compatible with Ph. D. programs in the West and do not meet similar and mutually accepted standards. A Russian Ph. D. is not equivalent to this degree in the West. A Ph. D. degree, unlike a Master’s degree, is not always accepted in the West, and if it is, it is not always accepted automatically. As a result, many talented young scientists prefer, upon graduation, to get a Ph. D. degree in the West and not to return to the Russian research and education system. So a pressing task is to modernize Ph. D. programs, bringing them in line with international practices and Western standards. This can be accomplished with dual Ph. D. programs, which are, unfortunately, very rare in Russia, unlike dual Master’s programs. By dual programs I mean unifying programs at a Russian and Western university so that the Russian graduate earns a foreign diploma that is recognized in the West.
Another important issue here is oversight and state regulation of the Ph. D. programs. Currently, the Supreme Attestation Commission oversees Ph. D. programs in Russia. This body has no counterpart in Western countries, where Ph. D. programs are created and regulated independently by the universities. This presents a real difficulty in developing joint international Ph. D. programs, because our universities have significantly less autonomy than in the West.
Creating opportunities for Russian researchers to publish their results
in English would also encourage them to continue working
in Russia. To achieve this goal, we must improve language
training at all universities, including for degrees in natural
sciences and technology (for which training is usually poor),
to expand publishing in English, to found Russian
Finally, a huge country like Russia should pay special attention to regional level. It should set up research, innovative and production clusters at the regional level and use them as the foundation for its strategy of international cooperation. Creating research centers in Moscow alone (or in Skolkovo, which is a few kilometers from Moscow) will not turn the tide of brain drain. Moreover, in the 2000s, we saw the real and no less serious problem of internal brain drain in Russia, caused by the hypercentralization of research and production in Moscow and the growing gap between the capital and other regions of the country. When everyone who is able to is moving to Moscow, this poses a real threat to the future of Russian research and innovation. This is a problem not only for professional researchers, but also for the population in general: the latest census in 2010 showed that the population of many Russian regions had declined significantly, while Moscow’s population was growing rapidly. This can be solved only by shifting the focus to creating regional research clusters.
For example, the obvious partners for many universities and corporations
in Siberia and the Far East are
Combating brain drain, which has become a real threat to Russia’s global competitiveness, requires serious and consistent efforts in many areas. Let’s hope that the Russian government’s latest decisions, including the creation of the Strategic Initiatives Agency, will help the effort.
«Говорят эксперты МГИМО», может не совпадать с мнением редакции портала.