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Build universities, instead of spending on military: Mr. Alexey Kluev

BY AZHAR IQBAL

HEAD of UNESCO University Management and Planning Department in Russia, Mr. Alexey Klyuev says history shows that use of military and weapons is not a solution to any problem. “We are with Europe and believe in peace. Nobody wants military invasions. We should spend money for building universities rather than military expenditures. In fact, the money spent on weapons can cover the study of thousands needy students.”

The Educationist Resident Editor in Russia had an exclusive talk with him at Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia.

Following are the details:

The Educationist: Sir please let us know something about you, where have you been studying and what is your area of interest?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: I have traditional educational background. I got my PhD in Philosophy in 1989 from Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg. I was offered job in the same university and my whole academic career belongs to Ural Federal University.

Now I am working as the Director, Institute of Public Administration and Entrepreneurship in UrFU. I’m also engaged in the university management which is also my area of interest. I preferred university management because it is more applied and practical than theoretical work. This area doesn’t have any specific theoretical framework. That’s why I have chosen this developing field as a challenge for me.

I am also working as the consultant in the university management. I have already advised more than 50 universities of Russia in their strategy management.

The Educationist: You got education from old USSR study system and have been working now in modern system of Education in Russia. You have observed both ways of Education Systems, what is the main difference between them?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: Now the higher education system is totally different from the system of USSR.

In USSR era, education was more qualitative as compared to present era. There was tough competition among students to get admission in universities. Usually 10 candidates were contesting for 1 seat. The same situation was with university positions especially for academicians. Universities only give admission and job to highly talented candidates.  Teaching in university was highly noble profession at that time.

But nowadays the number of students have increased greatly and highly developed infrastructure of universities offer more opportunities for students. For example when I was a university student, there were merely six thousand students were studying at this university, but now this number has increased to 40 thousand students in the same university.  Now we have western style of education but it is not good in quality as it should be. On the other hand, barriers to reach the university level are not as high as they were in USSR time.

The Educationist: Basic salaries of PhD professors are very low, even less than the high school teachers of Pakistan. What is the reason behind this?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: When any product becomes massive, it loses its value. The same is the case with university teachers in Russia. Statistics show that out of 10 thousand population of Russia, 500 of them are students, which is higher than Germany, Italy and some other European countries. Only Japan and USA have similar ratio of students but they are more advanced than Russia.

Russia doesn’t have such highly developed economy, which is a key factor to this bitter reality. I think if we minimize the number of students in universities as it is in Europe, we can overcome this problem. I am sure minimizing students in universities can help to solve this problem. But, unfortunately, it will not be accepted and applicable in Russia.

The Educationist: Beside all problems Russia has splendidly high literacy rate upto 95%. To whom will you give this credit?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: According to the constitution of Russia It is mandatory for government to provide free education to maximum population of the country.  There is necessity that at least 160 persons per 10 thousand people should be provided free education. In fact, about 200 persons out of 10 thousand people get free education while 200 persons are paying for their studies. It is also a policy of government to provide education at cheap prices.

The Educationist: Russia allocates almost 4.9 % of its GDP to education. Do you think it is enough?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: Being an academician, nobody would say it is enough for education. It should be raised especially for higher education. 4.9 % is pretty normal amount but high percentage of this budget is spent for school education.  Government pays high attention to maintain quality of elementary education, which is appreciable. But a reasonable part of budget may also be spent to university sector for meeting international standards.

The Educationist: What are three major challenges of Higher Education in Russia?

Mr. Alexey Kluev:  These include:

i- Top major challenge is money. Higher education sector does not have enough funds to regulate the development of universities and providing productive higher education. It should be appropriate.

ii- Our secondary education system provides very young students to universities. They are immature to understand the challenges of advanced studies in universities. They reach universities at the age of 17 which is far less as compared to university students of the other countries. We need to revise our secondary education system and should increase the number of years at schools.

iii- University sector is not considered to be prestigious in Russian society. Highly talented students don’t opt teaching at universities as a profession because of low pay packages. They prefer to work for other fields. Universities should pay more attention to attract talented minds in education sector.

The Educationist: What do you think about Russian Education system? Which specific area is unique than international Education system?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: There are more similarities than differences between Russian higher education system and international system of higher education. We have same level of bachelors and master programs in universities. Unfortunately, we have two levels of PhD degrees which means that, at first, a student gets PhD after three years study and then he needs to study more to get Professor PhD.

The main difference is students of Russia. They don’t have freedom to choose their professional fields and subjects to study in specialization. Usually we have constant curriculum with defined subjects. But students in western countries are more independent in this regard and universities provide them opportunities to choose.  In fact, Russia is developing in education sector and soon Russia will have same possibilities like other western countries have.

The Educationist: What is your point of view about English medium Education and how important you think that English is to communicate with international community?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: Official international language was not defined when I was a student. But now there is no question about international language, it is English. We should accept this reality that English has become an international language.

We should teach students English in their schools. They should come to universities with learned language and save their time in learning language at University. In fact, universities cannot afford the burden of teaching language instead of subjects.

I am very impressed by the system of our neighboring country Kazakhstan. They provide school education in three languages Kazakhs, Russian and English.  This is very fruitful and Russia should also follow the same model.

The Educationist: Russia is not considered a favorite choice for international students and higher studies. What is your point of view?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: There are many reasons behind this fact. Geostatic location and large distance with different climate are major reasons behind this. Our government is keen to spread education across the globe.

The Educationist: A new era between Pakistan and Russia has started. Pakistan is rebuilding social, economic and military relationships with Russia. Recently Russian forces participated in military exercises with Pakistan and Russia is also interested to invest there. How do you see this situation?

Mr. Alexey Kluev: Connecting with Islamic factor can be a challenge because Russia is also a country with large Muslim population. History shows that use of military and weapons is not a solution of any problem. We are with Europe and believe in peace. Nobody wants military invasions. We should spend money for building universities rather than military expenditures. In fact, the money spent on weapons can cover the study of thousands needy students.

 

Profile

Place of work, position

  • Director of the Institute of Public Administration and Entrepreneurship at Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia BN. Yeltsin
  • Head of the UNESCO Chair in University Management and Planning
  • Editor in Chief of the journal “University Management: Practice and Analysis”

Scientific titles and degrees

  • PhD in Philosophy
  • Associate professor
  • Public positions and membership in public organizations
  • Member of the Economic Council of the Federal Agency for Education of the Russian Federation (2004-2009).
  • Chairman of the Council of the Russian Association of Higher Education
  • Member of the Expert Group on the Investment Strategy of the Sverdlovsk Region
  • Expert of the international program “Eureka” of the New Eurasia Foundation
  • Member of the Russian Council for Education
  • Professional titles, state professional awards, prizes
  • Diploma of UARO “For the best publication in the field of education”

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