Sanctions convinced Russians of the possibilities of domestic education, by Marina Lemutkina for VZGLYAD. 02.12.2024.
Sanctions stimulated the country to import substitution and healthy selfishness, with these words experts comment on the results of a survey on the reaction of Russians to Western sanctions directed against Russian education. Sanctions in this area, according to Russians, either did not affect our country at all, or even contributed to the growth of the quality of domestic education.
The very first blows of anti-Russian sanctions turned out to be very painful for students from Russia studying at foreign universities. “We received appeals from parents, from students themselves. Various life situations began, oppression, various kinds of incidents - everyday, simple, everyday. Students from Russia became uncomfortable. And this is not one or two or ten people, but hundreds and even thousands,” Valery Falkov, head of the Ministry of Education and Science, described the situation a year ago.
Indeed, sanctions, including in the field of education, have become a serious challenge for our country. “This also applies to our youth, who are faced with a number of challenges,” admitted the head of the Russian government, Mikhail Mishustin. The West was rapidly destroying long-term scientific and educational inter-university ties, blocking academic mobility and exchanges, and complicating the circulation of curricula, scientific ideas and personnel that had existed for decades.
The Czech Republic, Poland, Great Britain, France, Austria, and Finland especially aggressively squeezed Russian students out of their universities. However, the same processes took place in other Western countries - the USA, the Netherlands, Germany. As a result, by the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, Russian universities accepted two and a half thousand Russian students expelled from universities in unfriendly countries.
The exodus of Russian students from Western universities has not yet ended. But in the end, Mishustin stated, the sanctions backfired on their authors. But our country is adapting to new conditions, having overcome the negative effect of Western sanctions, in particular in the field of education.
The Russian government has developed an action plan. To begin with, a simplified mechanism for transferring students from foreign universities to domestic ones has been launched. But the matter will not be limited to emergency measures. The education system is facing large-scale changes.
“Under the conditions of sanctions and restrictions, domestic enterprises especially need employees - developers of promising equipment, systems engineers, programmers, and representatives of a huge list of other specialties that are necessary to strengthen industrial potential.
To solve these problems, the Russian education system must become more modern and competitive on the world stage. <...> Now the world is going through another stage of changing technological structures, which is leading to a transformation of the requirements for existing specialties, as well as to the rapid emergence of new professions that require deep competencies in innovative areas. And of course, we need to more actively attract talented young people into the field of research. This will be facilitated by a large number of events within the framework of the Decade of Science and Technology, which was announced by the head of state in 2022,” Mishustin said in early January 2024.
In particular, a network of new world-class university campuses is being equipped in different regions of the country (on February 1, 2024, campuses were opened in Moscow, Bashkiria, Tatarstan and Ugra; in total there will be 25 such supercampuses ). In parallel, “Advanced Engineering Schools” are being created on the basis of 30 universities, where more than two thousand young people are already studying.
However, the most interesting thing is perhaps something else. Following the state, society also accepted the challenge posed to Russia by sanctions in the field of education. Thus, according to a December survey by the Synergy University analytical center, 26% of Russians believe that the situation with Western sanctions has a positive impact on the development of the education system in Russia, and only 16% see this as a negative impact.
An important positive consequence of the sanctions, according to Russians, was Russia’s abandonment of the Bologna education system and the building of its own approach with an emphasis on the interests of the national economy. This position was expressed by 35% of respondents.
Also, among the important advantages, respondents identified an increase in the quality of education due to the development of new educational directions (29%), strengthening of patriotic education (19%) and the influx of foreign students from countries friendly to Russia (17%).
This reaction, including regarding the abandonment of the Bologna system, has a completely rational explanation, Vadim Lobov, president of the Synergy corporation, explained to the VZGLYAD newspaper.
“The Bologna process is one of the most obvious manifestations of cooperation between the Russian education system and the Western one. It is with Russia’s accession to this system that the brain drain from the country is most often associated,” says Lobov. – The guys studied in Russia, the state spent energy and resources on them in the hope that they would work in their country, produce new products or services. But some of them went abroad first on exchange, and then stayed there forever, largely under the influence of propaganda rather than real advantages. Now Russia has withdrawn from the Bologna process – and this flow has stopped. Of course, from the point of view of society and the state, this is positive, which is confirmed by the survey.”
The authors of the study also found out how the situation with sanctions, as observed by Russians, influenced the choice of profession by students. Amid sanctions, a number of foreign companies left Russia and a significant number of jobs became vacant. As a result, demand among Russians has increased for professions that were not previously particularly popular - for example, workers and engineers (this point of view is shared by 34% of survey participants).
According to 27%, the number of young people who want to study and work in Russia or in friendly countries has increased. Well, 21% believe that sanctions do not play any role when students choose a future career or specialization.
58% of respondents believe that sanctions did not have any impact on the educational system at all. Meanwhile, 41% of respondents from among those who see restrictions as having a predominantly negative impact on the education system in Russia (recall that this is only 16%) noted that sanctions have caused difficulties with studying abroad, but the majority (63%) say that This means that sanctions only partially prevent students from gaining international learning experience. About 30% do not see any obstacles and only 7% believe that sanctions completely limit students’ opportunities to get an education or internship abroad.
The situation is obvious. “About 11 thousand sanctions and restrictions have been imposed against Russia, which to varying degrees affects almost all areas of our life. Therefore, we look at the branch of education that we understand through this prism. It turned out that the sanctions, contrary to expectations, had a very limited, targeted effect, and in some ways even stimulated the country to import substitution and healthy selfishness, which is also noticeable to many. Hence the positive assessments,” Lobov commented on the survey results.