Education as a competitive differentiator of the BRICS countries

The article is dedicated to the analysis of the economic situation in countries with rapidly developing national economies: Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa that have a significant impact on regional and global markets. These countries could have become a dominant economic system thanks to rapid growth rate, powerful domestic markets and the use of innovations. The main question concerns the role of education as one of the decisive factors of global competitiveness formation both for the Russian and the BRICS economies. The BRICS governments made education the core of their strategic development allocating considerable investments for the creation of competitive higher education institutions and research institutes. The overview of the educational systems in Russia, China, India and South Africa makes it possible to single out main similarities and differences in management in the sphere of education and determine main trends aimed at the convergence of educational systems. Internationalization of higher education is one of the considerable factors of the formation of competitiveness among higher education institutions amid transformation of the global educational market and the role of the BRICS countries can significantly influence the change in the number of students receiving higher education abroad. It all results in the changes in the management system and the elaboration of recognizable educational standards. Russia, having considerable experience and level of education, could have played an important part in this process. One of the main indicators of competitiveness of educational institutions are international rankings which have evaluated positions of BRICS leading educational institutions (QS) separately as independent and important members of the global educational space.

 

1. Introduction

1.1.Introduce the Problem

Today competition among countries shifts to educational and scientific spheres which become of strategic importance for the economic growth and the development of human potential. Amid reindustrialization of the Russian economy the growth of global competitiveness of the Russian educational system in general and of its separate subjects can become the most important factor of national competitiveness formation. Considering the situation today Russia is facing integration into the global educational environment. Summarizing different scientific opinions we can name a number of problems the solution to which lies in the sphere of fruitful coexistence of globalization and the Russian educational system. They include the formation of internationalization strategy by educational system subjects, the development of transnational education, the guarantee of international quality, the development of regional and interregional cooperation, the implementation of innovative educational data and communication technologies and the creation on their basis of online universities as well as the problems of equality and accessibility of education. The key problem of globalization is the understanding and the ability to evaluate the measure of integration into the national educational system where globalization is a creative activity that increases national competitiveness.

The processes of internationalization and globalization in educational sphere are manifested through the increase in international compound in the activities of national universities. Universities, in their turn, have an increasing impact on the development of national educational systems in the context of internationalization by participating in world rankings. Global competitiveness of educational market members is only relevant for the universities that face independent evaluation of their quality (rankings) and are ready to take part in them.

The main problem is to find the answer to the following question: can Russian education be the factor that increases the competitiveness of Russia, which is the role of the state in renovation of education: economic or social. For a long period of time China has paid much attention to international competitiveness of Chinese universities and the world is more and more interested in them every year judging by a great number of students who come to study there. Can Russia achieve results similar to those in the Soviet Union? Will Russia develop education for “export” in the future, train enough qualified staff, scientists and engineers? If so, then the “development poles” can shift in the future from European countries and the USA to our country and then we will have new areas of economic and scientific-technical growth.

Amid changes in the structure of the international market of educational services the comparative analysis of the BRICS countries’ economies and educational systems is rather relevant. The results of the analysis make it possible to reveal common traits and growth areas for the convergence of educational systems and improving cooperation of the BRICS countries. The analysis of the position of leading institutions in international rankings including those dedicated to the BRICS countries helps to determine further changes in their positions, improve their international standing and recognition which means the creation of conditions for further economic growth.

1.2.Literature Review

The questions concerning competitiveness in international context are based on the studies of foreign and Russian scientists (M.Porter, J.Lambin, R.Khasbulatov, I.Igonina). As a matter of practice, there is global competitiveness of a country in world markets, competitiveness of a country in a national market (branch competitiveness) and competitiveness on a microlevel (company level) in national and world markets. Some scientists distinguish one more level – a product level (S.Prozorovsky).

Competitive environment where enterprises perform are formed on the branch level together with the development of competitive advantages necessary for their evolution. This approach was translated into works of G.Azoyev, I.Ansoff and O.Akulich.

Competitiveness of educational institutions is based on complex evaluation of indices that take into consideration economic and consumer criteria (O.Gisina, S.Danilova, A.Ryazanova). One of the most important factors that helps to evaluate the quality of educational system, the economic growth potential and competitiveness is the number of foreign students receiving education in national educational institutions which is reflected in international evaluation systems of universities’ competitiveness. International rankings become a tool of public and world evaluation of educational institutions’ activities considering the quality of training, the scientific potential and their contribution into the economic development of a country and the society.

1.3.Explorer Importance of the problem

Characteristics of the economic situation in the BRICS countries 

Sustainable development of the Russian economy amid intensification of competition on both external and internal markets is only possible if the competitive performance of the national economy and its entities improves dramatically. According to M. Porter’s theory, the nation’s competitive advantage is the ability of enterprises to develop and produce innovations. Considering the fact that Russia’s role on the world market is based on the availability of natural resources and key assets, the existing advantages are vulnerable and not sustainable. Russia’s competitive advantages are far less often based on advanced technology and workforce proficiency. Given the situation when global competition is shifting more and more towards production of knowledge, the role of the government in fostering innovations is increasing. The essence of Porter’s value chain can be presented as follows: stimulation – innovativeness – competitiveness.

 pic 1

Pic.1. Ensuring economic competitiveness according to Porter’s model

 

Economics of knowledge production becomes one of the country’s main competitive advantages only when backed by the government’s active role and support. Today Russia is one of the major promising countries among China, Brazil, India and recently – the Republic of South Africa. All the BRICS countries, both emerging and newly industrialized, are distinguished by big, rapidly growing economies and a considerable influence on regional and global markets; all the five BRICS countries are G-20 members. In 2013 the five BRICS countries accounted for almost 3 billion people which is around one third of the world’s surface, 15% of the world’s economy and 13% of the international trade. These countries have a very high economic potential and, according to the leading analysts, they could become a dominant economic system with 44% of the world GDP. The BRICS group is an attempt to unite the countries in a pragmatic way to work out political alternatives and to increase your own role in the global economy.

International experts have different opinions about the role of Russia in this union. Brazil, India and China remain leaders; they are considered world’s best emerging economies and will be equally important in the nearest five years. Russia is still a significant player on the world markets but it generates far lower interest than the first three countries.

Table 1. Characteristics of the BRICS countries (2014)

Countries

Population,

millions of people

Real GDP,

billions of US dollars

Per capita GDP, thousands of US dollars

Inflation, %

Unemployment rate, %

Balance of trade, billions of US dollars

Brazil

201.0

2190.0

10.9

6.2

5.7

3.4

Russia

142.5

2113.0

14.8

6.8

5.8

174.0

India

1220.8

1758.0

1.4

9.6

8.8

-197.3

China

1349.6

8939.0

6.6

2.6

6.4

438.0

South Africa

48.6

353.9

7.3

5.8

24.9

-8.5

According to the online survey held in April-May 2013 by Global Intelligence Alliance among directors of 431 world companies and organizations concerning their projects on emerging markets, investment priorities for 2012-2017 are as follows:

 pic 2

Pic.2. Major emerging markets.

 

            According to the experts, Russia has three important competitive advantages:

–      rich natural resources

–      impressive domestic market

–      high level of education.

There is an opinion that high level of education of Russian people is not a “synonym for global competitiveness”. Russia lacks skilled personnel, the part of high technology in GNP doesn’t grow, workforce productivity is also not very high. As a result, Russia ranks lower in competitiveness reports in comparison with the other BRICS countries (table 2).

Table 2. Comparative figures of the BRICS countries global competitiveness

Summary index of competitiveness

China

South Africa

Brazil

India

Russia

26

50

53

56

66

including
Institutions

26

46

77

69

128

Infrastructure

41

62

64

89

48

Macroeconomic environment

14

55

115

105

44

Health and primary education

71

131

87

101

68

Higher education

58

73

57

87

52

Efficiency commodity markets

45

32

113

70

128

Labor market efficiency

36

95

83

81

65

Efficiency of financial markets

48

4

43

21

127

Technology

77

76

54

93

68

Market size

2

25

10

3

8

Business efficiency

37

38

31

43

114

Innovation

29

41

44

38

71

In terms of knowledge economy formation high level of education and research activities could be a decisive factor, however, Russia’s potential for innovations is still rather low.  Among widespread problems are undeveloped business culture and limited commercial value of research works. In order to spur economic growth and attain high competitive “status” the BRICS countries try to diversify the economy base, become less dependent on raw materials export, produce goods and services with higher added value, contribute to the creation of new economic activity and stimulate innovations.

 pic 3

Pic. 3. Key competitive factors.

So, the question whether “education could become one of the main sources of competitive environment that stimulates innovation growth and development” is the major one. In order to answer it we are going to analyze educational systems in the BRICS countries.

  1. 2.     Method

The comparative analysis of educational systems of the BRICS countries is based on the information in a UNESCO report made by experts from five countries and is the first document that helps to reveal common trends and national priorities of every country in the sphere of education to support growth and development. The main criteria for analysis are:

  1. Structure of government expenditures on education
  2. Expenditures on education per student
  3. Share of private educational institutions according to the level of education
  4. International student mobility (in the world and in the BRICS countries)
  5. Position of the BRICS universities in an international ranking  (Quacquarelli Symonds, QS)
  6. Position of leading Russian universities in QS rating.

Educational systems in the BRICS countries

In July, 2014 Fortaleza (Brazil) hosted the 6th BRICS summit which confirmed the strategic importance of education in sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The BRICS governments made education the core of their strategic development. All the countries have stipulated the right to education in their constitutions. The exercise of this right is the government’s ambitious objective. The governments have made huge investments in all the educational levels in order to provide economic development of the countries: from reducing inequality in the primary education to creating higher educational institutions and research institutes that can compete globally.

In all the BRICS countries, except Russia, the development of the mass higher education system is at its early stage but one can already trace a sudden shift in global distribution of students towards emerging countries. The number of students in higher educational institutions has increased sharply. Russia, Brazil and China accounted for 39,1% of the world number of students in 2012. Only in China the number of university-educated students increased to 16,8%  in comparison with 2000 (7,4%). Russia has a fully developed system of higher education with gross coverage ratio of 76,1%  in 2012. There are gender differences as well. In India young women attend higher educational institutions less frequently than men; in other countries the majority of students are women. In the Russian Federation, for example, there are 85% of female students and only 68% of male students. Demographic trends also have an impact on the outcome of the BRICS group political attempts to reinforce their educational systems. The five countries are at different stages of demographic transition: from high to low birth and death rate. In China, Brazil and Russia the general birth rate is already lower than the level of reproduction while India and South Africa will reach this index by 2030.

The BRICS educational systems in their present state depend on the latest political changes and economic reforms which laid the ground for their economic expansion and appearance on the world stage.

The BRICS group includes big countries with different levels of educational management and financing. All the management levels are in charge of education and professional training, allocating the responsibility among national ministries and subnational public authorities including school committees. The ministries of education have a strategic role on the national level. They determine development priorities and coordinate local authorities. The ministries also set the financing volumes and hold national campaigns or implement investment programs. The management of national ministries of education reflects countries’ institutional and political changes. National authorities are directly involved in higher education management while the management of pre-school, primary and secondary education is effectuated on the state or province level, i.e. by local authorities. The aim of such delegation of authority is to enhance the management efficiency by reducing the number of “intermediaries” between students with their families and decision-making individuals which, thus, contributes to increasing responsibility of professors and official representatives.

The BRICS countries have different ways of solving the problem of efficient financing of education. For example, Brazilian municipalities are in charge of providing public and tuition-free education and regulation of private education in pre-school and primary institutions while the federal government is responsible for the higher education and regulates private higher educational institutions.

In China local authorities were put in charge of education financing at the beginning of 1980 but it was partially decentralized in 2000.

In India states’ governments account for 80% of country’s educational costs, three-quarters of this amount are spent on primary and secondary education. The national government has a major role in eliminating inequality through “centralized sponsorship schemes”; primary and secondary education makes two fifth of its expenses (in contrast with one half of higher education).

The Russian Federation has increased its education expenditures. A project aimed at education modernization has been implemented since 2007. Regional authorities receive more than 75% of federal financing for the management of all educational levels.

In South Africa nine regional departments control 86,6% of education expenditures and only two national authorities – 13,4%.

Significant differences in the approaches to educational financing reflect the existing resources and state priorities. Both Brazil and South Africa spend more than 6% of their GDP (or from 15% to 20% of total national expenses, Table 5). These countries plan to raise their education expenditures to 10% of GDP. Education expenditures in China and India are much lower, especially in India, but GDP in these countries is growing considerably faster which makes it possible to increase expenditures in recent years. Russia’s financing mechanisms can be compared with other European countries although educational expenditures are considerably lower.

Table 5.  Public expenditure on education

Total public expenditure on education

Total public expenditure

on each level of education

as % of public current expenditure on education

as % of GDP

as % of total government

expenditure

Pre-primary

Primary

Secondary

Tertiary

1999

2012

1999

2012

2012

Brazil 3.9 5.8 9.5 14.6 7.6 31.3 44.7 16.4
China 1.9 3.7 11.4 16.3 5 33 23.3
India 4.3 3.4 16.3 11.3 1.1 23.4 37.3 37.6
Russian Federation 2.9

4.19.012.015.0……23.1South Africa6.06.6…20.61.439.930.311.9

When economic growth rates slow down it’s vitally important to maintain the state educational financing on the proper level and to make sure it complies with national educational projects implementation.

Expenditures on every educational level reflect the current state of the sector and the age structure of every country’s population. Russia spends a lot more on pre-school education than the other BRICS countries. Relatively big funds are also allocated to higher education. In Brazil most part of the expenses account for secondary education while South Africa has to spend more than 40% of funds on primary education (Table 6).

Table 6 . Educational expenditures per student[1]

Total public expenditure

on each level of education

per pupil in constant 2011 US$ PPP

Total public expenditure

on each level of education

per pupil as % of GDP per capita

Pre-primary Primary Secondary Tertiary Pre-primary Primary Secondary Tertiary

2012

2012

Brazil1,4402,3832,4393,21613212228China        India352424621,943171354Russian

 

Federation4,025

……3,21418……14South Africa4901,8032,031…51820…

The BRICS countries plan eventually to mobilize additional internal resources for education in order to preserve the gained positions on the world economic markets and increase their competitiveness. For example, according to the law adopted in Brazil in 2013 75% of royalties from oil extraction go for education. Brazil is becoming the biggest oil producer and it will allow the country to provide high level of financing of the sector. Since 2014 a law has been put into effect in India that makes companies whose net worth or net profit go beyond the set limit spend at least 2% of their revenue to support education and further training.

The private sector plays a special part in the search and creation of new educational financing sources. Constitutions and laws on education allow foundations, individuals and structures create private educational institutions. Governments regulate the private sector in the sphere of education in order to comply with standards and provide high-quality education. In reality most part of students in primary and secondary schools attend public institutions. (Table 7). The private sector is quite insignificant in the Russian Federation and is very small in South Africa. Like in most countries with low and medium level of income private education in Brazil and China is more common in pre-school institutions than in primary and secondary schools. The involvement of private capital in the higher educational system in the BRICS countries is becoming more active like all over the world. This trend is obvious in Brazil where more than 70% of students go to private educational institutions.

Table 7. Share of private institutions in enrolment by education level

Enrolment in private institutions as % of total enrolment, school year ending in 2012
  Pre-primary

Primary SecondaryBrazil191615China49611India…29…Russian Federation0,90,70,9South Africa

India stands apart the other BRICS countries because its private education has been growing fast since 1990. In Russia private higher education hasn’t proved its worth; the number of private educational institutions is reducing both as a result of the Ministry of Education and Science policy and tough competition.

The main trend is aimed at converging the BRICS educational systems by elaborating equivalent educational standards and unified systems of academic performance measurement. The BRICS countries agreed at the summit in Fortaleza (July 2014) to cooperate in mutual recognition of university diplomas and to support the initiative to create BRICS Network University.

For all the five countries the elaboration of competitive systems of higher education on the world market is a priority. The main objective is to provide mass higher education services. In order to do that Brazil tries to make higher educational accessible for up to 50% of the population aging 18 to 24 and to reach a 33% gross coverage ratio by 2020. The number of magistrate and postgraduate programs graduates will, correspondingly, amount to 60 000 and 25 000 annually by 2020.

China’s national plan is to build a powerful nation with higher education. Chinese universities have to attain the level of world universities by 2020. Education has to become the leverage that will help China be globally competitive. Significant investments in infrastructure, the introduction of credit system, students’ participation in research projects, strengthening of relations between universities and companies and also renewal of courses are envisaged. China tries to reduce inequality among eastern, central and western regions. Experts say that the modernization of higher school took place on all the levels and included the changes in the government system of universities management, transformation of management inside the universities and refinement of the academic process.

India launched a program on higher education accessibility by creating new and expanding the existing institutions, modernizing infrastructure and creating non-state higher education. The government policy is aimed at the enrollment of 10 million students in the course of 5 years together with making education accessible and providing its high quality. India has 3 priorities in education: diversification of higher education (from vocational-technical schools to research institutions); quality improvement and restructuring of state management in order to make educational institutions more autonomous.

Russia witnesses falling demand for higher education that is connected with the reducing number of secondary school graduates. The figure reduced by 46,2% over the period from 2006 to 2012 which led to institutional changes of the sector aimed at merger and shutdown of educational institutions. The universities’ quality is a priority for the government. Federal universities have been created in order to optimize the existing resources in every region and to strengthen the ties between universities, the economy and the labour market. They are meant to play a strategic role in the training of specialists, to contribute to scientific research and innovations as well as to the regional and national development.

The department of higher education and professional training in South Africa is planning to increase the number of universities while introducing gradually tuition-free education for the poor. The department of higher education sets the enrollment target of more than 1 million students in 2016-17. The policy is aimed at the improvement of students’ performance, the research potential and innovative activities of the universities.

The BRICS countries are the major “participants” of higher education internationalization. Amid globalization the number of students receiving higher education abroad doubled over the period from 2000 to 2011 and amounted to 4,3 million. All the countries take an active part in the internationalization of higher education. The developed OECD countries attracted 77% of international students in 2011 but their part reduced from the maximum almost by 80% in 2006. Around 53% of student accounting for student mobility today come from Asia where the total number of students is growing. The BRICS countries make a significant contribution to the exchange of students. It’s China and India that send the biggest number of students abroad. Brazil and Russia have a lot of students in foreign countries as well. The Brazilian government launched a project in 2011 called “Science without borders” which is aimed at the allocation of 100 000 scholarships for Brazilian students to study in top institutions abroad in the sphere of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by 2015.

The BRICS countries are also attractive for foreign students. Russia (it occupied the 6th place in 2012) and China (9th place) attracted 4% and 2% of foreign students in comparison with OECD countries. Nevertheless, while the BRICS countries send most part of their students to OECD countries, it’s mainly students from neighbouring countries with whom they have common language and territorial borders that come to their countries. Russia and South Africa, in particular, are huge regional centers that accept students from neighbouring countries. It is important to say that student exchanges between the BRICS countries are really developed which can be proved by the enrollment of several thousands of Chinese and Indian students to Russian universities (Table 8).

Table 8. International student mobility

  Brazil China India Russia South Africa
Students going abroad 30,729 694,385 189,472 51,171 6,378
1st country of

destinationUnited States

8,745

United States

210,452

United States

97,120

Germany

10,007

United States

1,559

2rd country of

destinationPortugal   5,172:

 

Japan 96,592United Kingdom

29,713

United States 4,654

United Kingdom 1,339

3rd country of

destinationFrance

4,039Australia

87,497Australia

11,684

France

4,300Australia

787Students hosted 14,43288,97931,475173,62770,4281st country of

originAngola

1,552 Nepal

5,481Belarus  31,199Zimbabwe

23,2732nd country of

origin

Guinea-Bissau

825

Bhutan

2,274Kazakhstan

29,865Namibia

6,821

3rd country of

origin

Argentina   772 Iran

2,131

Ukraine 12,805Lesotho

4,047

All the BRICS countries promote student exchanges by encouraging foreign universities to open campuses which makes them more attractive for foreign students and professors.

Table 9. Number of students from the BRICS countries studying in the other BRICS countries

 

 

Students (pers.) from

Study in

Brazil

China

India

Russia

South Africa

Brazil

316

16

36

145

China

India

4

682

18

109

Russian Federation

200

9,842

3,351

8

South Africa

52

465

411

62

,,,

Brazil, for example, has created international universities for students from Latin America and Portuguese-speaking Africa. Since 2003 Russia is a member of the Bologna process which aims at the creation of the European Higher Education Area. Russia has adapted its curriculum, introduced bachelor and master programs, and implemented new programs such as computer engineering and environmental protection. Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia was in charge of the initiative to create BRICS Network University that can be connected with leading higher educational institutions of the five countries.

Today we can name the following main trends of international student mobility:

1.         Commercialization of international student mobility;

2.         The increase in mobility of bachelors as opposed to masters and Ph.D candidates;

3.         The growth of international mobility is a political priority in Europe;

4.         Geographical expansion of student mobility (Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong);

5.         Increase in national scholarship programs (Brazil, China).

It all contributes to big changes in the international educational space.

The key task for the BRICS countries is to form the government policy which makes it possible for the higher education system to meet the growing demand and at the same time to provide high level of education for students from different social groups. The BRICS group experience shows that the growing mobility of students both on the regional and the global level stresses the need of national standards unification in higher education. UNESCO has created regional regulatory acts called “the Regional Convention” to recognize qualifications in the sphere of higher education and also has started elaborating “the Global Convention”. The BRICS countries participation will become an important step in broader cooperation on the national and global level to improve educational standards and contribute to academic and student mobility. All the countries are the members of international conventions and agreements which guarantees general approaches to problem solution in order to form a single education area (Table 10).

Table 10. Ratification of international conventions by the BRICS countries

Brazil

ChinaIndiaRussian

FederationSouth

AfricaUNESCO conventions     Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960)

1968—19622000Convention on Technical and Vocational Education

(1989)——Other international conventions     Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols

(1949)19571956195019541952Convention relating to the Status of Refugees

19601982-19931996ILO Convention n°111 concerning Discrimination in

Respect of Employment and Occupation (1958)19652006196019611997International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms

of Racial Discrimination (1965)19681981196819691998International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)1922200119791973-International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

(1966)1992-197919731998ILO Convention n°138 concerning Minimum Age for

Admission to Employment (1973)20111999-19792000Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of

Discrimination against Women (1979)19841980199319811995Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)19901992199219901995ILO Convention n°169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal

Peoples in Independent Countries (1989)2002 — - — -    Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

(2006)200820082007-2007ILO Convention n°182 concerning the Prohibition and

Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms оf Child labour (1999)20002002-20032000

 

The overview of educational systems in the BRICS countries reveals many spheres which have possibilities for knowledge and experience exchange. The economic development of the education in all its forms, its territorial expansion will require the answer to the questions like the refinement of the management system, the financing of all forms of education, the improvement of national knowledge evaluation systems and their adaptation to the existing international standards. Globalization of educational services leads to the appearance of single educational standards which, in their turn, will contribute to student and professor mobility. Russia could play an important role in this sense as it has considerable experience and level of education.

Participation of the BRICS educational institutions in international rankings

            Amid growing demand for higher education global university rankings are becoming more and more important as their results help evaluate the university’s quality and its role on the world market. The position in the ranking determines the university’s competitiveness and recognition. The Russian government pays particular attention to the problems connected with improving the prestige of Russian universities on the global level in the context of constantly growing competitiveness from the part of universities that represent countries with traditionally developed research activities (the USA, Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel) and countries with rapidly growing economy (China, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Turkey, Iran).

This question is important because it determines the dependence of the country’s social and economic development on its intellectual potential. Today Russia sends capable students to foreign universities which in the future aggravates the problem of the country’s long-term development. In the Soviet period when a big number of students from European, Asian and African countries went to Russian educational institutions Russian university degrees were recognized in many countries all over the world and Russian educational institutions were quite prestigious.

Unfortunately 1990 reforms aimed at the establishment of market relations and commercialization of economic entities had an impact on Russian education and science as well. During the economic crisis and the sharp decrease of financing universities had to survive and look for financing resources themselves. As a result the amount of work done by the faculty increased and, as a consequence, the quality of education decreased. The crisis of industrial production destroyed the connection between enterprises and university science and the research sector either deteriorated sharply or stopped existing at all. So, the Russian higher school lost for the most part its international reputation.

3. Results

Today the attractiveness of a university for students and the prestige of a university diploma for employers depend a lot on its position in rankings. World university rankings are constantly posted on the Internet and the system of education, as a result, is improved on the whole. Russian universities don’t perform very well in such rankings which discredits higher education on both international and domestic markets. For example, a research held by the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences among Moscow senior high school students showed that 46,3% would like to continue their education abroad while 41,8% dream of finding a job abroad. As for international students studying at Russian universities, they often decide to study in our country because it’s not expensive and the grades necessary to be enrolled are lower. For example, Chinese students think that the most prestigious education is in the USA, Great Britain and Western Europe and apply for Russian universities only when being refused by western ones. The Soviet Union used to be in the 2nd place (after the USA) according to the number of international students but now Russia ranks only 9th.

In order to reach the strategic aims in the sphere of education it’s necessary to promote Russian universities in world rankings. The most respected one is the QS World University Rankings prepared since 2004 by the consulting group Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). It’s not only prestigious to be listed in this ranking but can be also beneficial due to a bigger number of foreign students. Today 18 Russian universities figure in top 100 universities rankings. This number has doubled since 2005 (Table 11).

Table 11. Russian universities in QS World University Ranking, 2011-2013

Name University

2011

2012

2013

Lomonosov Moscow State University

112

116

120

St.Petersburg State University

251

253

240

Bauman Moscow State Technical University

379

352

344

Novosibirsk State University

400

371

352

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO)

389

367

386

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University)

443

Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University

457

The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

573

522

495

National Research University “Higher School of Economics

537

550

518

Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B.N.Yeltsin

469

549

Tomsk Polytechnic University

541

616

583

Tomsk State University

451

568

584

Kazan (Volga region) Federal University

648

697

612

Southern Federal University

626

Far Eastern Federal University

612

723

N.I.Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod

646

740

Plekhanov Russian University of Economics

623

747

Voronezh State Univerisity

832

Today there are 1046 educational institutions in Russia; a little less than half of them are non-state. It’s only state universities that are represented in world rankings.

Starting with 2013 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) issues the BRICS university rankings. It demonstrates once again the existing state of emerging economies and their competitive positions on the world market of educational services. In 2014 rankings 40 Chinese, 19 Russian, 17 Brazilian, 16 Indian and 8 South African universities were among top 100. Out of these 19 Russian universities only Moscow State University occupied the 3rd place in top-10; six universities ranked in top-50 (Table 12).

Table 12. BRICS top-10 universities

Rank in BRICS

Name University Country

1

 Tsinghua University

China

2

Peking University

China

3

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Russian Federation

4

Fudan University

China

5

Nanjing University

China

6

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

China

7

University of Science and Technology of China

China

8

Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Brazil

9

Zhejiang University

China

10

Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Brazil

According to the rankings, China, Brazil and Russia remain the best emerging markets in the world. These countries managed to develop the educational mechanism and in a rather short term they occupied a firm position in the world educational market and in the future they will train more specialists with higher education than the countries-suppliers of knowledge. Mass education in the BRICS countries is becoming one of the global economy factors and thanks to that the world market of higher education has grown considerably over the last 20 years and its growth will certainly continue.

Table 13. Russian universities in top-100 of QS University Rankings: BRICS (2013)

Position in Russia  rating

Rank in  BRICS

Name University

1

3

Lomonosov Moscow State University

2

14

St.Petersburg State University

3

22

Novosibirsk State University

4

33

Bauman Moscow State Technical University

5

37

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO)

6

47

Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University

7

50

National Research University “Higher School of Economics

8

55

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University)

9

58

Tomsk State University

10

65

National Research Nuclear University ”Moscow Engineering Physics”

11

71

Tomsk Polytechnic University

12

74

N.I.Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod

13

79

Kazan Federal University

14

84

Ural Federal University

15

86

The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

16

89

Southern Federal University

17

91

Voronezh State University

18

97

National Research University «Moscow Power Engineering Institute»

19

99

Far Eastern Federal University

19

100

Plekhanov Russian University of Economics

In the nearest future this group of best universities will be the face of Russian education. According to the experts, Russia has fundamental differences compared to these five countries.

First of all, mass education already appeared in the Soviet period although the main expansion of higher school could be witnessed over the last 20 years (China and India still haven’t reached the same educational coverage as Russia saw in 1990). Secondly, though the number of people with higher education is growing, the quality of education is often called into question. One of the main problems is bad training of engineering and technical specialists. Thirdly, the country’s economy can’t deal with such a big number of university graduates with economic, management or legal education and the training of engineers in this context is weak and inadequate.

The ranking of the BRICS countries universities helps to reveal common approaches and differences in educational systems. The rapid advancement of Chinese universities in the ranking is explained by the economic policy of the country’s leaders and governmental policy in the sphere of education. Serious steps made by the Russian government to develop competitiveness of national educational institutions also made it possible for leading national institutions to be included in international rankings and to gradually improve positions in them.

4. Discussion and Conclusion

The economic development of education in the BRICS countries, its geographic expansion will change in the future the structure of the international market of educational services, will produce new world centers of education suppliers and qualified staff. In this sense Russia and other BRICS countries can unite their efforts to improve national educational systems in the following areas:

  1. The exchange of experience in the sphere of educational management to create a system of authority and responsibility distribution through national and subnational levels of power;
  1. The contribution to the experience exchange in the elaboration and implementation of national knowledge evaluation systems;
  2. The study of mechanisms of educational financing to increase quality and create equal educational conditions for different social groups.
  3. Joining efforts to create common data bases in order to form, store and use them mutually. The improvement of the report system and data compatibility will be of crucial importance for an efficient political dialogue in the sphere of education in the BRICS countries.
  4. The management of fast spread of higher education. In order to meet the growing demand for higher education the BRICS countries have to elaborate a sensible policy in order to provide high quality education in all the countries. The experience of every country will help solve such problems as the accessibility of higher education for the poor, controlling the growing number of private service suppliers, potential risks and benefits of new technology implementation (Internet programs and distance learning);
  5. The contribution to student and professor mobility among the BRICS countries, in particular. All the five BRICS countries realize the importance of exchanges among higher educational institutions but these exchanges are still not very attractive in comparison with those between the BRICS group and neighbouring countries. One of the first practical steps is the increase in the number of exchange students, professors and specialists which is connected with the creation of BRICS Network University. It will contribute, in its turn, to the mutual recognition of qualification and credits between the educational institutions. The efficient application of international regulatory documents and qualifications will be a decisive factor for ensuring quality on a trans-border scale and coordinating efforts in increasing student mobility;
  6. The elaboration of national system of qualification and standards for professional skills. It will help compare the quality of education, validate curriculum, facilitate student mobility and pass on to trans-border recognition of qualifications.

Globalization of educational services results in the formation of single educational standards which, in its turn, will contribute to the mobility of students and teachers. Russia could have played an important role in this situation as it has significant experience and level of education. The expansion of higher education especially of that in scientific and engineering spheres guarantees technological breakthrough and the growth of competitiveness of national economies.  Russian universities have a decent chance to occupy a rightful place among leading international players thanks to active governmental support and the remaining image of high-quality education.  However, the problem of increasing Russia’s competitiveness in the world market of educational services is not only about raising revenues from educating foreign students. The main question is, can Russia demonstrate a high level of education to the world not only from the point of view of educational services but also from the point of view of the protection of its domestic market from excessive expansion of other countries’ educational services.


[1] Considering the differences in sources, years and definitions, figures can be not fully compatible among the countries.

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