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"Philosophy of Education"

2014 year, number 4

WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS AS A CHALLENGE TO IMPROVE HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM OF RUSSIA

T. V. Sidorenko
National research Tomsk Polytechnic University, 84/3, Sovetskaya Street, Tomsk, 634034
Keywords: world university ratings, quality of higher education, citation index, academic reputation

Abstract

The present article is addressed the issue of arising need for Russian universities to enter high positions in the world rankings such as «Academic Ranking of World Universities, «Times, «QS World University Ranking. The phenomenon of ranking can be classified as the academic revolution which is under way in the educational environment all over the world. Today rankings are considered by politicians as criteria of economic power and high ambitions; by students as the indicator for taking career decisions; by university managers as a ground for making up development strategies and for universities they serve as PR-campaign as well. We have to admit that nowadays the mission of rankings implies something more rather than just defining the activity level of universities, they are becoming the pattern of globalization and marketization of the higher education systems and the instrument in «the fight for quality. The author runs the analysis of the ranking system criteria, focusing on QS, and describes the reasons, preventing Russian universities from being at the first lines of the ranking table. Some initiatives undertaken by universities in the framework of the government programm «TOP-100 are given by the author as an example. This programm is urged to create eligible conditions to bridge the gaps between ambitions and existing resources and real abilities. In a stepwise manner the author describes every criteria of QS Ranking while making an attempt to forecast the feasibility of these criteria and assessment of the current situation in the Russian Universities. The findings of the analysis are the authors proposals as to revision of the national higher education methodology and realization of the activities by the Russian universities that contribute to their high academic reputation among the leaders of the global education market. In conclusion the author supports the idea that modernization of higher education in Russia should take into account the requirements of the ranking systems and perceive them as challenges to improve the system as a whole. However, we have to remember that ambitious goals often lead to misrepresenting the real situation and to making simplified decisions that bring universities to the status «the best by all means as a mere formality. The history shows that evaluation of the wrong things might cause the distortion of the overall picture, missing real and serious problems thus building up a card-castle which generates the illusion of education quality.