Representatives of Council on competitiveness increase of Russian leading universities visit MEPhI

On March 14 MEPhI received a delegation of members of the Council on competitiveness increase of Russian leading universities among world research and development centers. The delegation included representatives of the Center for International Higher Education of the Boston College, UK National Health Service, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese Society of Education Development Strategy, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, the Russian Federation Ministry of Education and Science, Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, etc.

The purpose of the visit was to discuss issues related to the implementation of the Program of the competitiveness improvement of the university as a participant in the Global Competitiveness Programme, as well as prospects of the university entry into the top 100 of the world's leading research centers.

Council members visited several research units, namely: Nanocenter, Laser Centre, Engineering Science Center, Laboratory of Experimental Nuclear Physics, as well as an exhibition of works of MEPhI young scientists.

The delegation appreciated achievements of the university. In particular, the chairman of the UK National Health Service Malcolm Grant interested in the Engineering Science Center project of the diagnostic complex “Lily of the valley”. He noted that he had not seen its own factory in universities before, and stressed the importance of students’ practical work with specific scientific devices for the educational process.

After the excursion Council members expressed their opinions on a special meeting. They praised the potential and prospects of the MEPhI and also identified a number of problems, which are specific to many universities and affect a position in the global rankings. First of all it is a need of human rejuvenation, transparency increase in administration and financial support activities of the university, as well as strengthening an aspect of the employees’ involvement in the competitiveness programme implementation. It is impossible to achieve success in the absence of community self-interest and participation.

“Your university is one of the most distinguished places for expertise about nuclear issues in the world – said Philip Altbach. – The hottest topics, the most controversial issues in many countries are exactly about nuclear energy and its role in the future. Its seems to me that one way of improving your rankings quick is to present your expertise in the broader policy arena about what’s the future of nuclear energy globally. And there is probably no one more expertise in the world than MEPhI”.

An executive vice president of the Chinese Society of Education Development Strategy Min Weifang noted that MEPhI represented to him as a “solid and strong educational institution”, which has an impressive base in the physical science and reached outstanding success and a high position in the rankings. He drew a parallel between MEPhI and universities in China which face many similar problems during the implementation of programs for improvement of the universities performance, started about 15 years ago.

There was discussed an issue of attracting foreign experts. Council members expressed their opinion on the possible problems emergence in this area. The MEPhI principal Michael Strikhanov reminded that before 2010 MEPhI was a closed institution and no one could be hired from the outside. “Despite the fact that this process is at the very beginning, today we have a rich history of interaction with major research centers. We have 64 supporting letters from various laboratories, universities, etc., as well as a list of more than 250 foreign experts who are willing to cooperate with MEPhI”.

The principal noted that the University action plan is pretentious enough, but the ultimate goal is to reach the top 100 world universities. “So if we set an ordinary goal, we’ll lose, whereas overstated goals themselves are unrealistic, - he said. – We have chosen an intermediate option”.