Лекция: Russian Higher Education

There are three basic kinds of higher education institutions in Russia. These are Universities, Academies and Institutes. Universities offer a wide spectrum of programs on all levels of education. Academies provide higher education at all levels and conduct a large amount of research – usually specialized in one branch such as science, art or architecture. Institutes are independent parts of universities or academies offering professional education program.

Engineering education is now the largest subsystem of higher vocational training in Russia

«We live in a special moment of history. At this stage new technologies, coupled with reforms and investments in education provide the developing countries with an opportunity of a radical economic advancement, especially when we speak about the group of countries possessing half of the word's natural resources. By 2010 — 2020 Russia together with China, India, Indonesia and Brazil will become the new five economics, strong, active players in the global economy.» (by Joseph Stiglitz, Vice-president of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

It is extremely important for our country to accept the fact that education today is an integral part of the national development strategy.

Now all over the world in engineer's training, radical transition from «the school of memory» to the institute in which the student is taught to use his own thinking is being carried out. Transformation of the engineering education system into the sphere of cognitive and engineering activity development, communicative and engineering culture is radically changing the university image including its teaching and educational process. The major direction of engineering education development in this respect is the special organization of student's work throughout the period of study at university in complex multidisciplinary practice-biased teams, students' involvement into a creative activity, maintenance of their mass participation in research, creation of purpose-biased education. All these should create favorable preconditions of evolutionary transition in the engineering education from the educational («the school of memory») to the research and educational processes.

As the world becomes more global, so has education in Russia. In order to more closely correspond with educational systems in the USA in Europe, the Russian system has begun to change. Now, many institutions offer Bachelor’s degrees with a four-year program and a Master’s degree with a two-year program. The transition, however, is still under way, and some departments operate on the modern system, and others on the old five-year system, which bestowed (bestows) the title of «Specialist.» The Bologna Process is also influencing the development of education in Russia.

After completing higher education one may pursue additional postgraduate studies (aspirantura in Russian), for another three years. After one’s thesis is written and successfully defended, the “Candidate of Science” or Kandidat nauk degree is awarded. This has been deemed equivalent to the Ph.D. degree of the American system.

However, the Russian system also offers a degree higher than the Ph.D. equivalent “Candidate of Science.” It is known as the “Doctor of Science” or Doktor nauk degree. This process, known as doctorantura in Russian, takes three more years. After defending a doctoral thesis, the Doctor of Science degree is awarded.

In Russia, foreign language mainly refers to English. Therefore it is English which is used as a second language for teaching subjects. In recent years the interest in bilingual education in Russia has risen significantly, because it is connected with ambition for entry into the global business environment, and globalization of economy, and production. The first experience of its use was achieved in schools as well as language specialties of the universities. But nowadays the requirement for English proficiency in non-language specialties has become evident. Unlike the countries who are pioneers of this type of education, there is no other native language speaking environment in Russia. That is why bilingual education in Russia has a number of specific peculiarities, and difficulties of use. This type of education will improve the level of students’ foreign language proficiency because the non-native language will be the means of instruction but not the academic goal. But all of these are available only if education is designed correctly, taking into consideration all organizational, instructional, didactic specialties, and students’ foreign language proficiency levels.

Taken as a whole, the Russian system of higher education is one whose reputation has survived many governmental forms, and international and financial crises. Russian degrees are recognized and respected the world over Russian higher education is most famous for its superiority within the areas of science and research. It is said that over one quarter of the world’s scientific literature is published in Russian — a surprisingly uniform language despite its enormous spread across country and peoples. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

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