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Putin to sum up first results of academic reform

December 08, 2014, 6:03 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Kremlin said the meeting will be dedicated to discussion of transformations in the academic sector of fundamental scientific research

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© ITAR-TASS/Michail Metsel

MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Monday sum up the first results of the academic reform during his working visit to St. Petersburg, the Kremlin reported.

Putin will attend a meeting of the presidential council on science and education. The Kremlin said the meeting will be dedicated to discussion of transformations in the academic sector of fundamental scientific research.

The meeting that will be held in the building of the Hermitage Museum, which is marking its 250th anniversary, is expected to provide the first assessment of the results of Russian Academy of Sciences reform.

Earlier, presidential aide Andrey Fursenko said the upcoming council meeting will be devoted to “development of fundamental science in Russia, first and foremost, the results of those changes in the academic science that have occurred.” He said the yearend is a right time to “formulate what has worked and what not, what needs to be done additionally to ensure an unambiguously positive orientation and effectiveness.”

Fursenko said the first positive result of the reform could be the absence of bad news connected with it. “During any changes, there is fear that it could become worse. The inevitable stage is deterioration of the situation, people should get used to new things. Today all admit that it has not become worse. This is not bad,” he said.

Tasks the state set before science are the following: the share of Russian scientific works should total at least 2.44% in the global flow of publications, financing of scientific research and developments - at least 1.77% of the Russian Federation’s gross domestic product, and the income level of a Russian scientist should be 200% of the average level in the region where he lives, the Education and Science Ministry recalled.

In order to fulfill the tasks, the entire scientific system should be modernized.

The reformation of Russian science has been taking place since June 2013. Its key provisions are registered in the federal law of September 27, 2013. Three state academies (the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Agricultural Sciences) have been united into one.

All scientific institutes are no longer subordinated to the new Russian Academy of Sciences and are supervised by a new state body - the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations (FANO).

The first stage - the formation of FANO, transfer of property to FANO from the Russian Academy of Sciences - has been completed. The second stage started, during which scientists should feel improvements in work. A structure capable of distinguishing and supporting promising scientists, giving development to the best institutes and laboratories, has just begun developing.

Nevertheless, there are still many discussions about the reform. A month ago, the management of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Education and Science Ministry and FANO discussed urgent problems at a round table in the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.

In particular, according to Russian Academy of Sciences President Vladimir Fortov, the powers and competences of the Russian Academy of Sciences and FANO should be clearly determined and delimitated. As of now, there is no clear understanding on the issue, which prevents the two structures from engaging in real activity.

Fortov also mentioned “the tiny percent of GDP the country allocates for science.”

A number of Russian Academy of Sciences officials speak for establishment of an analog to the State Committee on Science and Technology that existed in the Soviet Union. Their key argument is that restructuring of scientific and research institutes within the framework of FANO alone is insufficient to solve large-scale problems, and the program-and-target principle would provide the required boost.

The Education and Science Ministry, while speaking about the reform, said the establishment of the regulatory and legal framework for further development of science in the country has nearly been completed. Out of 27 required regulatory and legal acts, only three remain to be developed. Besides, a universal database on all fundamental and applied scientific research and technical developments in Russia has been created.

Regarding the operation of FANO, over the past year, the agency revealed over 6,500 state property facilities that had previously not been on the state register. According to FANO head Mikhail Kotyukov’s data, overall, as of November 1, FANO registered in the cadaster some 25,000 state property facilities; the property rights of the Russian Federation have been formalized for more than 19,000 facilities.

In 2014, FANO plans to cover by registering and formalizing ownership 60% of all supervised facilities, and complete the process in 2015.

In the financial sphere, FANO concluded 3,670 agreements with specific institutes, under which it handed them over 101 billion rubles ($1.9 billion). Over a year, it was possible to receive more than 16 billion rubles ($303.7 million) of allocations.

Among positive results, Kotyukov counted formation of a system to elect heads of scientific organizations. The elections were called in 16 institutes, and a few more are to be called by the yearend.

The Kremlin press service also added that during Putin’s trip to St. Petersburg, the head of state will meet with judges of Russia’s Constitutional Court.

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