Russia claims huge jump in number of foreign academics

Attempt at overseas recruitment part of wider bid to internationalise universities

June 6, 2017
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Russia claims it has more than quadrupled the number of overseas academics working at its leading universities since 2013, as part of the country's plans to push the institutions up international rankings.

Lyudmila Ogorodova, deputy minister of education and science, said there had been a "significant increase in the number of foreign professors, teachers and researchers in the universities" that are part of Project 5-100, which seeks to get five Russian universities into the world top 100 by 2020.

"Their share in the number of university staff increased by 4.5 times," she said in an interview with the Russian outlet Sputnik, although she did not give absolute figures.

Ms Lyudmila said that the country was "particularly" interested in strengthening scientific ties with the US.

"From 2013 to 2016, Russian and American researchers and scientists jointly published more than 15,000 scientific papers works," she said, ahead of an education conference in Los Angeles.

She added that in 2016, universities involved in the Project 5-100 scheme had introduced nearly 200 new programmes that had been created along with overseas universities and other scientific organisations.

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Her comments reflect Russian's struggle to internationalise its universities, which have been criticised by observers for being inward looking. In particular, the publication of research findings in Russian has made it difficult for the country's academics to participate in global scientific conversations.

A recent analysis found that the number of papers published in Russia has fallen by about 1 per cent a year since 2000. The country did launch a plan to recruit one in 10 researchers from overseas in 2013, although some believe the funding available is not enough.

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