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Journal section "Socio-economic research"

Postgraduate Studies in Russia: Before and After the Reform

Mironenko E.S.

4 (16), 2018

Mironenko E.S. Postgraduate studies in Russia: before and after the reform. Social area, 2018, no. 4 (16). DOI: 10.15838/sa.2018.4.16.8

DOI: 10.15838/sa.2018.4.16.8

Abstract   |   Authors   |   References
The Ministry of Education and Science has prepared a plan for another reform of one of the most traditional forms of education in the post-Soviet space – postgraduate studies. How exactly are postgraduate studies supposed to be reformed and what are the expected results? There are many issues that require immediate solutions: why does the state “produce” so many Ph.D. graduates, when less than half of them will hardly ever work within their qualification; why does it take so long to obtain a Ph.D. degree; does the model of training meets modern needs. Amid competition, education systems in Russia and advanced countries need to establish a new model of postgraduate studies. Postgraduate education as a form of training highly qualified specialists originated in the Russian SFSR in 1925, spread to universities and research institutes of the USSR in the 1930s, when the country was building a new system of training academic and teaching staff. Graduate studies involved specialists with higher education who had worked within their profession for two years. The age of applicants was not less than 35 years; the state gave two or three years for writing and defending a thesis. A postgraduate student received a decent scholarship, comparable to salaries at large enterprises. During the post-war period, the Soviet government declared the training of academic staff as a fundamental principle of the state. Until the 1960s, decisions were made to improve training and certification of specialists, the standards of dissertations were raised. All these contributed to the “booming” of postgraduate studies since the 1960s in the USSR: in 1968, more than 96 thousand people enrolled in postgraduate studies. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union the prestige of an academic degree fell dramatically; it was no longer a sign of elitism. Postgraduate students could work “for scientific ideas”, receiving low wages, continuing working at higher educational and research institutions; shift towards more profitable sectors, or go abroad. As a result, the period from 1995 to 2012 is called “a postgraduate bubble” in the academic community and is considered a serious failure in the system of postgraduate studies. The scientific literature and the media discuss the problems of postgraduate studies, their future, including in the context of foreign experience. The Ministry of Education and Science propose to return compulsory thesis defense for postgraduate students, discuss the possibility of prolonging the study course from three to five years and divide it into two stages. If such a scenario is to be implemented, the first stage, which will last two or three years, involves three traditional exams: specialty, foreign language, philosophy, as well as a qualification exam on the training results. The article analyzes the performance of the Russian postgraduate studies. The experience of foreign systems of training highly qualified personnel is described. The problems associated with reducing the number of postgraduate students and the number of theses defenses during the study period. The crisis of the post-perestroika period in the Russian scientific community is overcome gradually, but it is far from the second “golden age”, according to experts. The approaches and recommendations proposed in the article should contribute to improving the efficiency of systems of training academic and teaching staff and facilitate the processes of their restructuring

Keywords

training, reform, graduate school, postgraduate studies, dissertation