Aug 30, 2021
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How do federal universities become mechanisms for reducing science?

Professor of NArFU, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Honored Scientist of Russia Vladislav Goldin

In 2010, the Northern Arctic Federal University was established. In the just published book of memoirs “At the Crossroads of Memory”, Professor of NArFU, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Honored Scientist of Russia Vladislav Goldin summed up the results of the merger of Arkhangelsk universities into a federal university for the first time in public space.

What does it have to do with the creation of NArFU, Vladislav Ivanovich told IA REGNUM: “The very idea of ​​a federal university came from my article in 2008 in the newspaper Pravda Severa” Northern Federal University in Arkhangelsk: to be or not to be? ” Lugovskoy in Moscow. Therefore, they often asked me what happened in the end, was it advisable to do it? On the pages of the book, I shared my thoughts. “
It is a duty to talk about the problem, and better than quoting at length the book by Vladislav Goldin “At the Crossroads of Memory”, it is difficult to do something: “NArFU, according to the RAEX rating (RAEX-Analytica), in 2013 took 79th place, and in 2020 it is already only 95th among the country’s universities. According to the rating of research activities of NArFU, occupying 105th place in 2015, as already mentioned, in 2020 it dropped to 137th place.
And this is not surprising, since the main indicators of human resources are falling. In 2011, there were 712 candidates and doctors of sciences (without part-time workers) in NArFU (and, in addition, in Sevmashvtuz and VZFI, which later became part of NArFU, another 107 candidates and doctors of sciences worked). In 2020, their number (despite the entry of candidates and doctors of sciences from the former Sevmashvtuz and VZFI into the teaching staff) decreased to 568 people. The indicators of the training of the personnel reserve are also deteriorating. In 2011, 377 graduate students, and in 2020 – 336. In 2011, 50 theses were defended, incl. 7 doctoral dissertations, in 2018 – 9 and 2, respectively, in 2019 – 15 and 2, and in 2020 – only 7 and 2.
A serious problem for NArFU was the outflow of highly qualified personnel, doctors of sciences and professors. In 2010, 118 doctors of sciences worked at PSU and NArFU, in 2011 (after PSU became part of it) their number decreased in NArFU to 103. In 2012, 10 doctors of sciences from Sevmashvtuz and VZFI joined it, but later their number in NArFU, despite the defense of doctoral dissertations, in 2020 there were 85 people. In addition, the average age of doctors and candidates of sciences at the university was 63.1 years in 2020.
Among highly qualified specialists still working today at NArFU, including in the professors’ meeting of the university, the question is often raised whether the university needs doctors of sciences and professors at all. This is a sore point for me as well, from the point of view that the PSU administration has done a lot and spent a lot of money on training highly qualified personnel, so it is difficult for me to explain and accept the loss and outflow of them.
… I would like to remind you that the Federal University in Arkhangelsk was created to gain leading positions in the Northwestern Federal District, or at least in the European North … this, unfortunately, did not happen … At one time, Pomor University competed for leadership in the European North with Petrozavodsk University, going approximately on a par with it. NArFU, on the other hand, fell sharply back in terms of indicators compared to this university. If in 2020 NArFU took, as already mentioned, the 95th place, then PetrSU took the 75th place. In terms of research activities, NArFU is 137th in 2020, and Petrozavodsk University is 57th. Thus, he sharply broke away from NArFU in leadership among universities in the European North.
Over the past 10 years, the student contingent of NArFU has sharply decreased. Let me remind you that, according to statistics, in 2010, 11,449 students studied at PSU, and 9969 students at ASTU / NArFU, that is, the total number was 21,618. In 2011, after the PSU became part of NArFU, their number immediately decreased by more than 2 thousand people, amounting to 18,089 people. At that time, 2367 people studied at Sevmashvtuz, and 3915 people at VZFI. In other words, the student body has decreased by more than two times over the decade and is approaching the level of the 2010 PSU. In 2019, the branch of NArFU in Koryazhma was closed as not accredited.
… I predicted at the end of the 2000s that the federal university would not be able to increase the number of students at the expense of other regions, but I could not even imagine that the number of students at NArFU would be so catastrophically reduced.
When discussing the prospects for the development of the Federal University in Arkhangelsk in 2008-2010, I … suggested placing a stake on strengthening human scientific and scientific-pedagogical potential, and above all highly qualified specialists, while building up the scientific, scientific, technological and experimental base. It was necessary to direct the financial resources received from the federal center for this, and to dramatically expand postgraduate and doctoral studies. But that did not happen. Moreover, as noted above, the number of doctors of sciences in NArFU is consistently decreasing, and, accordingly, the contingent of graduate students. Doctoral studies have ceased to exist. At NArFU, the number of annual dissertations defended has been reduced several times: if in 2009 at PSU and ASTU 63 dissertations were defended, incl. 10 doctoral dissertations, then in 2020 the number of defenses was reduced to 9, including in 2018-2020 only two doctoral dissertations were defended annually. These numbers speak for themselves.
The question arises in front of me all the time, whether it was necessary to liquidate the two leading independent universities in the region, uniting them and then a number of other educational institutions into a federal university. Maybe it was wiser not to do this?
Weighing the arguments “for” and “against”, I come to the conclusion that NArFU received, but unfortunately, did not use its chance for development. A lot of money was invested in it, which other universities, including in the European North, did not receive.
… I follow with interest the activities of the scientific and educational center “Russian Arctic: new materials, technologies and research methods.” Which was recently created on the basis of NArFU and declares itself as a world-class REC. But he has yet to become such, and it will not be easy. “

Huge investments, which initially pleased the Arkhangelsk region, practically turned out to be “saved” on the number of students studying, financing the training of scientists and went to increase the administrative staff and the repair and construction program. The dismissed students went to universities in other regions – which is one of the explanations for the outflow of young people from the Arkhangelsk region. The number of 10,000 budget-funded places in Arkhangelsk universities reduced during the merger in NArFU almost exactly coincides with the number of those leaving the region every year!

Discuss such an “exchange” in the public space, treat the criticism of the NArFU leadership differently, if the regional leaders had these figures, if they spoke out against such a “redistribution” and reduction of budget student places, the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation would hardly agree to it. Or the numbers of reductions and “backlog” would not be so depressing. But they talk about NArFU either well or not at all, which played a cruel joke on him. Why “knowledgeable people” are silent, Vladislav Goldin explained to IA REGNUM as follows:

“Why are others silent? Some people just left Arkhangelsk, work in Moscow, St. Petersburg and occupy good positions – I. Lugovskaya, S. Mikhailov, N. Chicherina. This part of the “not silent” went their own way, far from NArFU. A significant part quit, including due to age. Those who stayed, in my opinion, are working while they are working. Someone is satisfied with the work, there are leaders of dissertation councils with postgraduate studies such as K. Bogolitsyn. I think that they are quite satisfied with their position in NArFU. The rest are groaning to themselves, somewhere they are trying to speak out non-publicly. A. Repnevsky says that he speaks at the academic councils of the university, I don’t know, I’m not a member of the academic council … “

What has happened and is happening now is mostly clear. “Who is responsible?” – a rhetorical question. NArFU has a rector’s office headed by E. V. Kudryashova and a board of trustees headed by A. L. Kudrin. But most of the responsibility is borne by the “invisible” federal managers from science and education or something else, who set the directions for the development of universities, which brought the science of Russia to the current state. In 2020, 1.5 million applications were filed for patent registration in China, 620 thousand in the USA, and 35 thousand in Russia.

The traditional question remains “What is to be done?”. It is necessary to complete the analysis begun by V. I. Goldin and understand that the plans of the university should be changed in order to increase its scientific personnel potential and increase the student contingent at the expense of budget-funded places – the resources of the “paid students” in the region have been exhausted. Contrary to attitudes, “workers are needed, not higher education”, because the region needs to keep young people.

Unfortunately, much is irreversible. But there is Alexei Leonidovich Kudrin, who loves to solve “difficult questions”. Now the backlog of his brainchild – NArFU – has become such a “difficult issue”. In the country, only, perhaps, A. L. Kudrin can understand this problem and mobilize resources for the university in order to significantly adjust the direction of development of NArFU, which seems to many to be correct.

Vladimir Stanulevich

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