President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Russian government to consider implementing applied baccalaureate (AB) degree programs at some of this country’s universities. The government has until June 30 to look into the issue.
While teaching theory to the best higher education standards, AB degree programs emphasize practical training. Through intensive internships, graduates learn hands-on skills and develop an expertise that enhances their job market suitability.
In an earlier interview to the RIA Novosti news agency, Valery Falkov, Russia’s Minister for Science and Higher Education, pointed out that, when introducing AB, it was imperative to carefully assess each industry’s needs and understand just how many jobs it could make available to those completing AB programs.
Experts agree that working with employers is of the essence. There is a consensus among Project 5-100 institutions that the content and standards of AB degree programs should be developed in close collaboration with industrial partners.
Thus, Aliya Bagautdinova, head of the Department of Academic Affairs at ITMO University, says that the endeavor calls for constant, full-scale cooperation between universities and major employers, whether leading real-sector companies or education, research and engineering design institutions, which can be expected to take on AB program graduates.
It would make sense to build on existing academia-industry links when putting together such programs, say experts. Some Project 5-100 universities are already seeking to involve their long-standing business partners in the process. According to Andrei Raigorodsky, director of the Phystech School of Applied Mathematics and Informatics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), engaging active industry professionals is good for narrowing the gap between theory and practice. Several of Russia’s high-tech and banking giants, including 1C, ABBYY, Sberbank (and its SberTech subsidiary), Scientific Design Bureau of Computing Systems, Tinkoff Bank, Yandex, etc., which have endowed chairs and labs at the school, have in the past contributed to designing its bachelor’s and master’s programs.
AB offers students an opportunity to acquire labor market-relevant skills, forge professional ties, get first-hand exposure to industry, gain valuable project work experience, and master collective and individual problem-solving techniques.
AB degree programs could be used to train in-demand employees for a wide range of industries, from engineering, computer manufacturing and transport to digital transformation, media and design to management and documentation and record keeping (and the list goes on). According to Yury Filatov, who heads the Institute of Fundamental Engineering Education at St Petersburg Electrotechnical University ETU “LETI”, applied baccalaureate will not only help align higher education with the needs of established industries but also train the workforce for nascent ones.