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Pres of Moscow Diplomatic University criticizes simplistic assessments

January 15, 2013, 4:09 UTC+3
It is rather difficult to assess the efficiency of university education along simplistic patterns
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MOSCOW, January 15 (Itar-Tass) – It is rather difficult to assess the efficiency of university education along simplistic patterns, “as far from everything can be measured in plain figures,” Anatoly Torkunov, the president of Moscow’s famous MGIMO Diplomatic University says in an interview published by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily Tuesday.

He referred to last year’s campaign by the Ministry of Education and Science to assess the efficiency of university and college education, saying: “The presidents and provosts /of universities and senior colleges – Itar-Tass/ didn’t even know the parameters, on the basis of which the computations would be done.”

“I can tell you for sure we didn’t bother about the unified state examinations /the graduation tests at secondary schools/, the demand for our graduates among employers, or the floor space at our buildings,” Dr. Torkunov said.

“I think the provosts of some humanitarian, social and economic colleges might have been concerned, but still I think there’s no applying the one-size-fits-all approach to universities and far from everything can be measured by plain figures,” he said.

Dr. Torkunov indicated that although research in humanitarian areas brings in practically no monies in Russia, the amount of revenues from research was one of the provisions, which the ministry took account of as it determined the inefficient universities.

“Teachers of foreign languages make up more than a half of staff-members at MGIMO, and most of them are highly-qualified professionals with doctoral and other academic degrees,” he said. “Many of them do publish research works but it’s known fairly well that this research is either paid for very modestly or is not at all.

“Also, it’s fairly well known that a university would always play the role of a cultural and/or spiritual center and it would train specialists in a broad enough spectrum but unfortunately the survey of the schools of higher learning,” Dr Torkunov added.

He believes along with this that the criteria for assessing the performance of humanitarian universities and colleges might include, among other things, the numbers of monographs published by its lecturers and researchers.

“If you take humanitarian education, a monograph usually embodies the fruits of a researcher’s work, while an article most typically shows some intermediate results,” Dr. Torkunov said. “The monographs that have been published and have been reviewed might form a good parameter for assessing.”

“The latter scope of works embraces the ones that receive the status of textbooks, including the ones on foreign languages, and dictionaries.

“It’s also important how many magazine a university or college publishes and what kind of a website it has,” Dr. Torkunov said.

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