Rector's Column

07 Сентября


A speech by Evgenia I. Mikhailova,

Rector of North-Eastern Federal University

at the Conference of NEFU Activists, August 31, 2015

Dear colleagues!

In this Year of Victory, commemorated in our University under the slogan “With Dreams and Memory”, at the beginning of a new academic year, I would like to call my speech before you, the NEFU activists, “A Chance at Victory”.

Yes, NEFU has a chance to become a standard of prestige and success of higher education in our country and the world. In the last five years (2010-2014), we have achieved a lot, the progress is obvious, but, of course, the sky is the limit! It is what we have accomplished that gives us a basis, a right, a chance to continue reforms and to achieve breakthroughs in development. Paraphrasing Charles Dickens, I would like to say that the best of times are upon us, and the worst is in the past. Metaphorically speaking, the spring of hope defined the summer of work, and now we should reap the autumn harvest, the fruit of our labour, so that winter would be happy and joyful.

Every day, we prove with our hard work, our professional activities, our love for research, our desire to contribute to science and education, economy and culture of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and the whole country, the words of Dmitry Livanov, Education Minister of Russia, that the federal university became in its region a centre of intellectual, cultural, scientific and innovative development, a centre of resource integration.

The Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University is a new international centre of education and science where young people from 40 countries study and scientists from prestigious universities of 14 countries work as professors and researchers.

NEFU today is one of the leading Russian universities that strives to reach a standard of quality of education and research that transcends national borders. The university collective aims to establish a world-class classic research university, strengthening at the same time the status of an entrepreneurial and scientific-technological university. NEFU is expanding Master’s and postgraduate degree programmes and is paying special attention to post-diploma training of specialists for all spheres of economy of the region. For three consecutive years NEFU has been holding the status of socially-oriented and especially attractive university. In the national Interfax rating of universities, NEFU is on first place among federal universities in “Socialization” category, and is on 12th place among all Russian universities.

In the national Interfax and EkhoMoskvy Radio rating of Russian universities, NEFU is on 5th place in 2014-2015 among federal universities in “Education” and “Innovation” categories, and is on 31-32nd place among all Russian universities. In 2014 Expert RA Rating Agency has published for the first time the ratings of university reputations in technical and economic subjects. In “Technical, Natural and Precise Sciences” reputation category NEFU is among the top 50 universities of the country, and in “Economics and Management” category it is also in the top 50 and has been placed 29th. Specialization in specific directions, such as natural sciences and technical disciplines or economics is, I think, a good way to announce the potential of the university.

We often ask ourselves – how can we become the best, the most sought after, authoritative university? We understand that the quality of education in a university is defined be the level of professional competence of professors and the volume of scientific research. That is why the “Investment into Professors and Researchers” Project was approved as the principal project of NEFU Development Programme in the years 2010-2014. The main results of the first stage of the Project are:

· The share of degree holders among professors rose to 66.6%, in five years 173 professors (10%) have successfully defended their dissertation works, including:

21 doctors of sciences,

148 candidates of sciences,

4 PhD holders;

· 5.5% of professors have experience of work in foreign universities;

· 93 foreign professors from universities of Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia work in NEFU;

· In 5 years 100% of professors completed courses on modern educational technologies, methods of developing, teaching and ensuring the quality of innovative programmes;

· 98.9% of researchers and professors completed advanced training, including 26% in foreign countries;

· 56% of researchers and professors know foreign languages above the threshold level of B1;

· 14% of researchers and professors know foreign languages on the level of professional competence C1 and fluent use C2;

· 4.5% of students and staff studied and are studying in Master’s degree programmes in universities of USA, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, China, Russia;

· 5 researchers and professors completed “Languages and Linguistics” Master’s degree programme of professor An Song-Chol in English language;

· 276 best NEFU graduates and 34 best graduates of central universities have been employed in NEFU;

· 21 researchers and professors have been sent to study in doctoral and candidates degree programmes in leading universities of Russia with employment in NEFU after programme completion;

· New full-time appointments established since 2011:

10 research professors

16 research associate professors

14 professors-tutors

92 research interns.

Within the frames of the Project, efficient contracts have been signed with 78 vice-rectors and 18 deans and directors.

375 heads and specialists of administrative-managerial personnel are getting ready to sign efficient contracts. The goal of this academic year – all department heads and professors of the university should sign effective contracts.

There is no doubt that the quality and level of professors has increased in 5 years; the quality of student’s knowledge has improved as well.

With an aim of conducting an independent assessment of student knowledge within the frames of an intermediate performance review, on June 19, 2015, NEFU and 28 other Russian universities took part in the second stage of an experiment organized by the Federal Education and Science Supervision Service. The experiment was organized as a test in three main subjects: mathematics, physics (optics) and botany. 52 students took part in it: 20 first-year students of Engineering and Technology Institute in the programme 08.03.01 “Construction” (mathematics), 17 second-year students of Physics and Technology Institute in the programme 03.03.02 “Physics” (optics), and 15 first-year students of Natural Sciences Institute in the programme 44.03.05 “Pedagogic Education” (botany).

The tests were conducted by NEFU professors who, in accordance with the rules of the experiment, have not taught students in the above disciplines. Assessment was done using tests from the Assessment Fund of the university, as demanded by the experiment. The testing procedure was controlled by an observer from Rosobrnadzor and independent experts from Yakutsk Agricultural Academy. In addition, a live video of the testing was broadcast to Situation and Information Centre of Rosobrnadzor.

Preliminary results of testing in Mathematics for the programme “Construction” show 20% of students getting an “excellent” mark, 75% - “good”, and one student – “fail”. In “Optics” for the programme “Physics” 53% of students got an “excellent” mark, 41% - “good”, and one student – “satisfactory”. In “Botany” one student got an “excellent” mark, 66.7% - “good”, and 26.7% - “satisfactory”. Differences between the marks of the assessor and an independent expert were noted only in two cases in “Optics”, where the tests had problems that required open type answers.

Divisions of the university are going to analyse the results of the experiment in more detail. The experiment will be expanded in the future and independent testing will be organized in all educational divisions.

Department for Quality Control organized sociological surveys “First-Year Student 2014” (October), “Student 2014” (December), and “Graduate 2015” (May-June). The aim of these surveys is to identify the satisfaction level of students by the planning and organization of the educational process.

66% of all first-year students from 140 study groups of 16 educational divisions took part in the survey (1,705 of 2,584). New students have generally been successful in adapting to studies and are satisfied with education level and activities of divisions.

Nevertheless, the following issues have been noted:

1. On average, only 17.5% of first-year students talk to their tutor, dean’s office, Study and Methods Department if they have problems with studies or in relationships with other students.

2. 4% of respondents noted the unsatisfactory level of living conditions in dormitories and 40% could not answer the question.

3. The level of extracurricular activities was noted as low by 6% of students, while 22% could not answer the question.

4. 25% of respondents do not know how to work with library catalogues.

5. 28% of first-year students do not know how to manage their time, properly schedule work and recreation periods.

6. 71% of first-year students are not engaged in extracurricular activities.

We will organize a repeat survey of now second-year students in October 2015.

55% of all 2-6 year students (4,851 of 8,897) took part in “Student 2014” survey. 58% consider the quality of education to be high, 41% – average, and 1% – low.

63% of all graduates (2,220 of 3,545) took part in the survey of graduating students. A very high level of satisfaction with the quality of education (over 90%) is noted in Pedagogics Institute, and Geology and Prospecting Faculty. High level of satisfaction (80-89%) is noted in Mining Institute, Engineering and Technology Institute, Roads and Motorway Faculty, Psychology Institute, Medical Institute, Technology Institute, Institute of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing Institute, Institute of Languages and Culture of the People of North-Eastern Russia. Average level (less than 70%) is noted in Foreign Languages and Regional Studies Institute.

62% of respondents assessed their readiness for professional work as “mostly ready”, 24% – “completely ready”, 12% – “mostly not ready”, 1% – “not ready”, and 1% – undecided.

A new addition for this year: upper year students and graduates will assess the work of their supervisors and professors – we wanted to do this for a long time now. Assessment of the work of university leaders by professors is becoming a tradition.

What is the driving force behind every university? An academic community of full professors. In many world-class universities the share of full professors is 25-50% of all professors and lecturers. NEFU, in 2014, had 183 full professors, including 135 with an academic title of professor. This is only 10% of all professors and lecturers. Of 135 full professors only 76 work with students (44 in 2009). The growth in their number is slow. Possibly, the reason is the new Regulations for Awarding Academic Titles, approved by the Decree of the Government of Russia No 1139 of December 10, 2013. Previously, academic titles were awarded by department and scientific specialization, while, in accordance with the new requirements, they are now awarded only by scientific specialization and only to doctors of sciences who have successfully supervised no less than 3 (for educational institutions) or no less than 5 (for research institutions) people with academic degrees. Furthermore, no less than 50 published educational publications and research works are required, of which there should be no less than 3 educational publications and no less than 5 research works published in the last 5 years. This is very serious. But we need to tackle the issue! We should try to find suitable candidates, develop an individual plan of, say, fostering a full professor. It is well known that the average age of NEFU full professors is 68. This year we should develop a number of programmes, including a Programme for Supporting Outstanding Professors, Programme for Supporting Outstanding Researchers, Programme for Supporting Department Heads and others.

Five specific strategies for development of NEFU that have been worked on for 3 years will be adopted, and the first of them will be about developing the capacity of the university through improving the quality of professors. Within the frames of this strategy we will strive to quickly increase the number of full professors, who are competitive on a global level, and to improve the professional skills of leaders at any level. Our goal is to establish a community of leading scientists on priority directions of university research.

During the last 5 years the federal university met with a certain success in increasing the number of high quality scientific publications.

According to the data of Department for Scientific Research Work the growth in publication activity of university staff in 2010-2014 was: RISC – 3.4 times (2010 – 689, 2014 – 2,372), Web of Science – 6.5 times (2010 – 11, 2014 - 72), Scopus – 7.8 times (2010 – 16, 2014 - 125). Citing of publications has risen from 2010 to 2014: RISC – 2 times (2010 – 382, 2014 - 798), Web of Science – 4.6 times (2010 – 34, 2014 – 158), Scopus – 4.9 times (2010 – 54, 2014 – 265).

Nevertheless, as of August 15, 2015, there are only 41 publications of NEFU staff on Web of Science, 66 on Scopes, and 1,237 on RISC. That is why, this year, it is necessary to energize the work on expanding international publication activity, increasing the number and quality of publication in highly cited journals.

The university is interested in the quality of publications, not only their number.

I asked department heads (141 people) and full professors (111 people) of NEFU to prepare an analysis of publications over the last 5 years. I can note the more or less active work in this sphere of the following department heads:

– In Medical Institute –Tatiana Nikolaeva, Neurology and Psychiatry Department,NadezhdaSavvina, Public Health and Healthcare, General Hygiene and Bioethics Department,Natalia Douglas, Obstetrics & Gynaecology Department;

– Finance and Economics Institute –Roman Nogovitsyn, Management of Mining and Geology Industry Department;

– Mathematics and Computing Institute – VasilievVasily, Computational Technologies Research Department, Sergei Popov, Mathematical Analysis Department;

– Engineering and Technology Institute – Alexei Mestnikov, Production of Construction Materials, Products and Structures Department, Maria Safonova, Applied Mechanics Department;

– Physics and Technology Institute – EfimNeustroev, Radiophysics and Electronics Department;

– Physical Culture and Sport Institute – Dmitry Platonov, Winter Sports Department,AfanasySergin, Theory and Methods of Physical Culture and Life Safety Department, Ilia Cherkashin, Physical Education Department, Mikhail Borokhin, National Sports and Folk Games Department. I should point out that all 9 department heads in the Physical Culture and Sport Institute have RISC and Scopus publications;

– Foreign Languages and Regional Studies Institute – Valentina Grigorieva, Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages Department, Elena Rufova, Oriental Languages and Regional Studies Department, KlavdiaFedorova, English Philology Department, Alina Nakhodkina, Translation Department;

– Psychology Institute – all 3 department heads Agrafena Makarova, Natalia Prokopieva and Maria Nafanailova are actively publishing their works, though in RISC only;

– Institute of Languages and Culture of the People of North-Eastern Russia – I can only note VasilyIllarionov out of 7 department heads;

– Institute of Natural Sciences – Natalia Petrova, General, Analytical and Physical Chemistry Department, Mikhail Cherosov, Ecology Department, whose articles are published in RISC, Scopus and Web of Science and are actively cited, AitalinaOkhlopkova, High-Molecular Weight Compounds and Organic Chemistry Department, she has the largest number of publications in the university and is the leader by citing;

– Geology and Prospecting Faculty – RevoSkriabin, Technology and Technique of Prospecting Natural Resource Deposits, has articles and citing in RISC and Scopus;

– Mining Institute – Andrei Petrov, Underground Development of Natural Resource Deposits Department, GrigoryShubin, Open Pit Mining Department, Mikhail Vikulov, Mining Machines Department, EgorChemezov, Industrial Safety Department.

Overall, 29 department heads out of 141. Of course, we need to tighten our demands. We will start, first, with part-time employees. This year, we will have to let them go, as they have no publications.

I would also like to note the best publications and citing of full professors:

– Medical Institute: Professor DarymaGarmaeva and Professor Vadim Krivoshapkin;

– Finance and Economics Institute – Professor Izabella Elyakova;

– Physics and Technology Institute – Professor Ivan Nikolaev and Professor AitalinaSyromiatnikova;

– Psychology Institute – Research Professor Anastasia Okoneshnikova;

– Physical Culture and Sport Institute – Professors RaisaPlatonova, Valery Kochnev, IosifPortniagin;

– Foreign Languages and Regional Studies Institute – Professor Elena Nelunova and Research Professors InnokentyNovgorodov and Mikhail Fomin;

– Mining Institute – Professors ArturAndrosov and Ivan Kovlekov;

– Institute of Languages and Culture of the People of North-Eastern Russia – Professors Galina Popova, StepanKolodeznikov, PraskoviaSivtseva-Maximova, Lyudmila Efimova, and Research Professor Nikolay Toburuokov;

– Institute of Natural Sciences – Research Professor PraskoviaGogoleva and Professors Galina Mironova, Valentina Fedoseeva, Gavril Ugarov, Elena Shadrina;

– History Faculty – Professors Anatoly Gogolev, InnokentySivtsev, Irina Sosina;

– Philology Faculty – Professors Svetlana Zalutskaya, YuliaKhazankovich, Anatoly Burtsev, LuizaGabysheva, Oleg Yakimov;

– Law Faculty – Professor Dmitry Mironov;

– Geology and Prospecting Faculty–the best RISC citation index belongs to Professor Igor Kolodeznikov, we also note professors Mikhail Iudin, Anatoly Berzin, Yuri Nim, VasilyUarov, Mikhail Farber;

– Philosophy Department – Professors Vera Danilova, Nikolai Kozhevnikov, Viktor Mikhailov and Pavel Tobukov.

43 professors out of 111 that were included in the analysis.

So these are our chances and opportunities. This small analysis shows that everything is in the future, that we have the potential, that we just need to remember our duty, reputation and professional career, all of which affects the development of the university. We need to increase citing. Publication and citing ratings among the full professors and department heads should far outweigh the average numbers in the university, should be comparable to values in the academic profession. In the world, where many researchers and professors are part-time employees and have no guarantees of employment, professors at Russian universities have full-time contracts and social guarantees.

It is quite understandable that for universities to function successfully they should have a system of mutual responsibility for doing one’s work in the best possible way by each member of the collective, including lecturers, professors, department heads, rector, director or staff member. Starting in September 2015 the university will raise the requirements for employing new lecturers and professors. Any lecturer or researcher that enters work in NEFU should have a doctoral degree or the highest degree in his or her own field. Today, after completing activities for improving work efficiency and optimizing some spheres of activity the university has 380 openings for lecturers and professors. We will follow the principle of “selecting the best”, rather than trying to close the openings and filling them with non-qualified personnel. Just like in admitting students, it is better to admit less, than to admit those with low scores. Overall, the 2015-2016 academic year should become a turning point for vastly increasing the work efficiency, performing professional responsibilities with high quality, teaching and doing research on a completely new level. We will all strive to make the professors of NEFU competitive and efficient, and to turn them into an endless resource of pedagogical and scientific potential for the development of the university. Today, talking to the most active members of our community, I ask you to launch the mechanism of self-empowerment, which will undoubtedly help you to reach significant heights in your work. A chance at victory depends on all of us. Today, you have heard four reports from Division Heads on pressing issues of our activities, and they should be analysed, including my report, at department meetings and academic councils of divisions. With a deadline of September 10 of this year, I ask you to developwith divisions plans for this academic year.

I congratulate you with the coming Knowledge Day and wish you and your students a successful academic year.Let your teaching and research talents open up, and let NEFU be awash with resources!