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13 Sep, 2007 18:25

Business & Govt join forces on higher education

For decades, Russia's higher education system was considered among the best in the world. Its colleges could be relied upon to produces first-class specialists. But in recent years that's changed. A lack of funding and a failure to modernise have had a

The IBS Group is an IT consultancy firm.  Its President, Anatoly Karachinsky, believes the business community should have a say in the structure and content of degree courses: “We should create a model where business formulates professional standards, telling specialists what they need to know. Those standards can then be transformed into educational standards, so that students will be taught what they will need later”.

President Vladimir Putin has been inspecting National Development Programmes involving agriculture, health care and education in Russia's south-western region of Belgorod, not far from the border with Ukraine. He paid special attention to the modernisation of the education system, with third-level teaching in the spotlight.

Mr Putin said that although changes to the system of higher-level education had begun, a lot more was still to be done:

“We've already started to modernize the system of professional education.  What this means is the endorsement of a higher education system based on levels, credits for education, and allocating special capital for these purposes.  The joint programmes for the training of specialists and general staff, undertaken by educational institutions and employers, have been highly effective. But some obstacles remain, such as taxes.  Strange as it may seem, these can prevent the implementation reform measures.”

And according to Aleksandr Shokhin, the President of Russia's Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen, business is eager to help.

“The basis for a skilled staff is laid down in professional schools. Undoubtedly, it's important for businesses to work together with the government to establish the way to remove restrictions on the quality and quantity of qualifications,” he said.

In a market economy, education is a strategic factor for success in the competition between countries.  Anatoly Karachinsky says money spent on education is money well spent.

“The better Russian education is, the better our specialists are. The better Russian companies are, the more competitive our country is. So, we should improve education, which means investment in infrastructure – both state and private,” he said.

Investment in education does not yield a direct financial reward.  But good education produces successful specialists.   They are vital for any economy, and are always in high demand.