Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972

INFRASTRUCTURE TRANSFORMATION AND TRANSFORMATION OF FUNCTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION SUBDIVISIONS IN RUSSIA WHILE INTEGRATING INTO EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATIONAL AREA

Mikheev I.D., Konstantinova N.A.

At the beginning of the 21 century the world developed powers entered the postindustrial epoch. The period of transition from economy of resources to economy of knowledge has been almost completed for them. Thus the Russian system of education is faced with several very urgent issues that are to be sorted out immediately.

At the present moment science and engineering have been developing very fast. Information technologies and high technologies are introduced everywhere. The society is in great need of highly qualified specialists. Thus the quality of education should become much better to meet the modern demands. The personnel needs to get special training to be able to work effectively using new technologies. Thus continuous professional development programs become of a paramount importance.

So higher education becomes a very important branch of economy in developed countries. Income from educational services becomes comparable with income from tourism. Those countries that lead in the field of education can influence on world processes decisively.

The level of tourism industry in the country shows the quality of infrastructure and social and political stability there, as well as the quality and the scope of the country higher educational system shows to what extend the pretension to be a leader in science, technology and ideology is proved.

The analysis of the educational system in Russia shows that export of educational services makes only 0,3 % of the world one and mainly thanks to the CIS countries (to compare: in the USA it is 30%). So we can say that Russian export of educational services is in an embryonic state.

The Russian society had changed drastically for the last two decades. At the same time we have to mention that the university infrastructure and functions of university subdivisions have not changed at all. As a result there comes a contradiction between reality of life, needs of the society and an ineffective university infrastructure.

It is true to say that since Russia has become part of the Bologna process there have been made some necessary changes: the system of quality management as well as Bachelor and Master Degrees have been introduced (training of specialists is remained). There appeared new subdivisions at higher educational institutions.

Since innovations and new technologies have become crucial for universities there appeared a necessity in having subdivisions able to do and develop business such as techno-parks and "business - incubators". But it should be said here that changes in the university infrastructure and functions of university subdivisions are still an issue.

Let us consider the main prerequisites of inevitable transformations of university infrastructure and its subdivisions which will have to happen due to marketing economy and Bologna process recommendations.

  1. Common European system of evaluation and accreditation of all European (including Russian) universities, credit system that takes into consideration students workload are introduced.
  2. All universities introduce Bachelor´s and Master´s Degrees.
  3. Educational institutions are transformed into research training centers where research is carried out in the fields of cutting edge technologies. Academic people do research and teach at the same time. There appear new forms of scientific work. Student´s scientific work becomes a very important part of training. Students are involved in real projects.
  4. Focus should be made on practical issues. Students should be prepared to work in real life situations. Project based learning becomes very crucial.

The university administration has to deal with two related issues: quality of education and its effectiveness, because graduates of Russian universities have to be competitive both in Russia and abroad. Management in education should be significantly improved.

It is very well known that if you want to increase stability of any organization it is necessary to create effective communication system according to new goals.

So, to increase competitiveness of an organization you have not only to found new subdivisions and change their functions but to concentrate on the system of organization management. Besides you have to think of new organizational and financial structures, clearly define rights, duties and responsibilities of these subdivisions.

In our opinion the subdivisions that need to go through changes are the following:

  1. Dean´s Offices.
  2. Post-graduate Departments.
  3. Research Department.
  4. Departments of Practical Training.
  5. Law Service Departments.
  6. Personnel (or Human Resource) Departments.
  7. PR - Departments (Image - Centers, Advertising Agencies).
  8. Department of Quality Managements.
  9. Outsourcing Departments.
  10. Monitoring and Controlling Departments.
  11. Departments of IT Service.

We believe that Dean´s Offices should have the following new functions:

a) Student´s Assessment. Student´s final and intermediate tests should be provided not by teachers (teachers give paper - based or computer - based tests on different subjects to Dean´s Offices) but by invigilators, appointed by the Dean´s Offices. On one hand it is the way to protect corruption, on the other hand professors and teachers will have more time to concentrate on research and methodological work.

b) There is a necessity to have invigilators. Teachers, professors who teach a subject, should not be in the class during the test (they can only check the results).

c) Web sites should be created and maintained where teachers could place materials for students to help them learn better and have some feedback from the students during the semester. There should be more qualified people (IT - specialists, engineers, programmers) working in the Dean´s office. As a result they would be more responsible for the tuition process, and it´s effectiveness, using IT in practice.

Post-Graduate Departments should deal not only with those who study for PhD, but for Master´s Degrees as well. As we know very well Bachelor´s and Master´s Degrees are scientific degrees while the qualification of a specialist is not. Those who study for the Master´s attend classes, do research intensively and write dissertation at the same time. We must admit that at the present moment there is not much difference in the way undergraduate students and Masters are taught. Quality of education of students is provided by specialized departments. Dean´s offices are responsible for the quality of Master´s training now. The problem is they can not provide the marriage of requirements in this particular field.

We have mentioned that the number of students getting Master´s Degrees is relatively small (for example at Kazan State Technical University it´s about 100 people, and some schools have only 4 - 5 Masters).

Taking into consideration what has already been said we believe that Masters should be trained in the way Doctors of Philosophy are trained. It should be done under the umbrella of the Post-Graduate Departments.

Research: new approaches

Let us remind that support and development of research and innovations at the universities are aimed at the in-depth tuition process, professional development of the academics, creation of new technologies to be used in economy, accumulation of knowledge and information to be spread and applied.

How is research financed, what are the sources of financing? They are various: grants, scholarships, fellowships on one hand and agreements, contracts with different institutions and organizations, bank credits, sales of technological - scientific products, on the other hand.

There exist different organizational forms of carrying out research : temporary research teams, business contracts, research centers, associations and etc. Some divisions are totally dependent on university administration while others get a power of attorney and have the status of juridical persons.

As experience shows the effectiveness here depends on financial independence and independence of making decisions.

The law department of the university should work out all internal normative acts and direct agreements that regulate the relationship between the university and its subdivisions and take the responsibility for it.

University Law Service

It is obvious that people who are in business take certain risks. When business is done by academic people it is even more risky, because it is new, the legal acts and documents have not been worked out yet in Russia. Marketing relations are new as well.

In conditions of effective management every staff member should have very clear duties according to their job content instructions which are written professionally and legally correct. Besides personnel should live these instructions and it should be controlled.

Taking into consideration what has been mentioned above, law service should not only consult the university administration on economic disputes with economic agents but help university subdivisions work out and write local normative acts and founding charters.

Besides the law service should edit and double check all the agreements (for example between the university, a student and an enterprise), orders, instructions and directions.

Quality and Innovation Management.

The major goal of the university executives is effective functioning. We understand functioning as maximization of quality of knowledge and skills with minimization of resource expenses that provide effective tuition process.

To provide quality and control of learning there should be an effective system of educational marketing, university advertisement. Personnel potentional should be also strengthened. It is pretty much reasonable to concentrate all these functions in public relations centers or image-centers.

The missions of these centers are:

  • current and future perspective assessment of labour market;
  • web-site updating;
  • annual publication and presentation of the university prospectus.

HR Department should be responsible not only for personnel files but for screening and hiring personnel.

At the moment it is done only by Heads of Departments and Subdivisions. In future it should be delegated to HR Department.

What else is of essential value is information support of all university subdivisions: dean´s offices, specialized departments, Controller´s Department, libraries, HR department, the system of electronic flow of documents and stuff. To save money and increase productivity and effectiveness of work in general it is reasonable to have a special division in charge of computer and equipment maintenance and supply of consumable materials.

Department of Practical Training

At the moment the responsibility of Departments of Practical Training is not only to sign up agreements and set up relationships with industrial enterprises but to research possibilities of students in real-life conditions and at the university. At the same time they have to care about students employment and work out the curriculum with the industrial enterprises. Practical Training should be a very significant part of the syllabus.

University international activity plays an important role at the present moment. It makes sense to consider an export of educational services as one of the major rating indices of the university.

International Office should concentrate on lining up international students and teachers. The reality is that now it is not enough to work within the frame of government agreements and contracts. It is reasonable to found agencies abroad and launch courses of Russian, Mathematics, Physics abroad, to take part in different international educational fairs and to publish promotional materials (promo).

We think that there is one more department or service, which should be of a paramount importance at the university. It is outsourcing.

Outsourcing means delegation of non-core functions of the organization to an outside contractor.

Outsourcing service provides the expenses decrease on maintenance of non-core subdivisions by introducing self-recoupment (self-repayment). The idea of outsourcing is very simple. Having delegated associated functions to a reliable and professional partner, the university can concentrate on its major activity.

Outsourcing Department should determine which university activities could be considered non-core (cleaning, construction, repair, publishing, camps and etc.).

Decentralization of management, monitoring of subdivision activities and outsourcing should become major factors of effectiveness of internal personnel and financial management.

Sorting out problems of decreasing expenses and increasing the effectiveness of the university at the same time by improving internal management will solve the problem of adapting Russian universities to modern social and economic conditions.

Having analyzed the system of higher education in Russian we can state that the infrastructure of the universities changes very fast. It is probably true to say that the structure of subdivisions in some cases has been modernized or changed but the job being done by them remains the same.

To sum up our views and ideas we would like to say that management is not only science but art. So the effectiveness of the universities pretty much depends on talented, creative, unique specialists involved in the university management.

We should bear in mind that personnel plays a decisive role everywhere: "everything depends on personnel".

The work was submitted to international scientific conference «Modern education. Problems and solutions», Thailand, December, 19-27, 2007, came to the editorial office 21.03.2008