Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
You know that the Presidential Council on Science recently had a meeting in Moscow, which discussed the situation in science and education. Just recently, a few days ago, there was a joint meeting of the Presidium of the State Council, the Council on Science and the Security Council, which discussed the problems of innovative activities.
Both the general public and the Government have been actively discussing the problems connected with education and science over the past two years. So when Alexander Gennadievich [Khloponin] invited me to his region – we had another meeting with him several weeks earlier – he had said: “I have been Governor for a year and a half and you have never yet visited the region, yet we discussed the problems of the region’s development back in 2002, you remember, when Alexander Lebed was still alive, and there were a lot of problems with the budget, complex interrelations between the various entities that are part of the region.” But we agreed right away that during the course of this trip the main goal would be to look at the current state of the region.
We will also touch upon issues connected with the development of education and science. I would like to hear from you, the people who have a hands-on role in all this. We are shortly to take some decisions in the spheres of healthcare, education and in the social sphere in general. You are familiar with the idea that is often repeated today, and I too repeated it many times when I said that money, especially money from the public budget, should go to budget-supported institutions not just because these institutions exist, but based on their performance as shown in the activities of this or that institution.
For example, if people flock to a university and want to study there, money must follow those people. And if a university fails to attract the necessary number of students, the mere fact that the university exists does not mean you have to finance it. There are many higher educational institutions here and I would like to hear your opinion because it is an issue that will come up before the Government very soon.
Secondly, I would like to know your opinion about the problems that we raised with the Governor yesterday and touched upon today. There is still a discrepancy between the output of the higher educational institutions and what is required in the labour market.
Thirdly, I would like to know how you feel about paying for education, what is your vision, what should be the ratio between free and not free education in the region and in the country, and what are its pluses and minuses.
Finally, the last question we discussed was of a global nature, the Bologna Process. We even had a bit of an argument at the Council on Science because most of those who spoke about it struck a critical note. They said that the Russian education system was better than that offered within the framework of the Bologna Process, that all these master’s degrees and the like were surrogates of the higher education that existed in the Soviet Union and exists in Russia today and we will thus downgrade our education. I think there are some grounds for this argument. In principle, I agree with it.
But there is another side to this problem, which is that if we want our specialists to be accepted not only by the labour markets in Russia, but in Europe as well – we should not forget about it. We must see how to resolve the seemingly insoluble problem: how to promote our product in the European labour market (although the best don’t need any promotion) without downgrading the standard of training and destroying our educational system which is basically good. It is a good system and we cannot afford to dismantle it.
Some ideas on that score have been expressed at the Council on Science. I will not recap them now because I don’t want to set the same tone that prevailed during the Council meeting. I would like to hear what you have to say, but if you would like to raise any other topics, I would be glad to discuss them.