Project 5-100 is a special government run program to develop major Russian universities. The program was launched by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science on the basis of a statement from Vladimir Putin on 7 May 2012 “On measures for the implementation of state policy in the education and science field”.
The project aims to improve the prestige of Russian higher education and bring at least five universities from among the project participants into the hundred best universities in the world according to the three most authoritative world rankings: Quacquarelli Symonds, Times Higher Education or Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The 21 participants of 5-100 which receive government support were chosen through a two-stage process. The first stage was announced on the 8th May 2013. There were 54 applications, 36 were chosen to participate and of these only 15 succeeded. The Board added another 6 universities to this group in October 2015.
- Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (IKBFU) (Kaliningrad)
- National Research University (Higher School of Economics) (HSE) (Moscow)
- Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) (Vladivostok)
- Kazan Federal University (KFU) (Kazan)
- Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) (Moscow)
- National University of Science and Technology MIS&S (NUST MIS&S) (Moscow)
- National Research Nuclear University “MEPhl” (MePhl) (Moscow)
- Lobachevsky University (UNN) (Nizhny Novgorod)
- Novosibirsk State University (National Research University) (NSU) (Novosibirsk)
- Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (MSMU) (Moscow)
- Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) (Moscow)
- Samara State Aerospace University Named After S.P. Korolev (SSAU) (Samara)
- Saint-Petersburg Electrotechnical University (LETI) (Saint Petersburg)
- Peter the Great Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University (SPbPU) (Saint Petersburg)
- Siberian Federal University (SIBFU) (Krasnoyarsk)
- National Research Tomsk State University (TSU) (Tomsk)
- National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) (Tomsk)
- University of Tyumen (Tyumen)
- ITMO University (Saint Petersburg)
- Ural Federal University Named after the First President of Russia B.N. Yeltsin (UrFu) (Ekaterinburg)
- South Ural State University (Chelyabinsk)
Altogether over 390,000 students are enrolled in these universities and 12 Nobel Laureates are employed.
The project is not limited to only these chosen universities, additional universities may be added from a group of Regional Universities depending on their development and the project’s budget.
The Council on Competitiveness Enhancement of Leading Russian Universities among Global Research and Education Centers oversees the project. The Council was created in the spring of 2013 on the basis of a decision made by the Russian Government. The Council goes over the Universities’ reports, suggests how much money is needed to follow through on everything, and then communicates what it thinks ought to be done to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science in terms of continued support of the Project’s selected Universities.
The members of the International Council are:
- Andrei Volkov, Professor of the Moscow School of Management (SKOLKOVO)
- Alexander Abramov, Chairman of the Board of Directors in EVRAZ Plc
- Philip G. Altbach, Founder of the Center for International Higher Education in Boston.
- Malcolm J. Grant, Chairman of NHS England
- Herman Gref, President and Chairman of the Board “Sberbank of Russia”
- Koenraad Debackere, Managing Director of the Catholic University of Leuven
- Valery Kozlov, Acting President of the Russian Academy of Sciences
- Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University
- Weifang Min, Executive President of the Chinese Society for Education Development Strategies
- Lap-Chee Tsui, President of Hong Kong University
The Chairman is Olga Golodets, the deputy Prime Minister for social affairs of the Russian Federation.
Objectives of 5-100
The following are the specific objectives and key performance indicators for the universities:
- To increase research potential
- To produce world-class intellectual products and educational programs
- To integrate innovation in higher education, to develop general and extra-curricular education, to make science popular amongst children and youth, to stimulate them in artistic activities
- To have at least 10% international professors amongst the staff and no less than 15% international students.
In addition, all universities, even those not involved in the project should strive to improve their employee’s science citation index.
In 2013, the Government released a resolution stating that the budget of the project would be 57.1 billion rubles until 2017: 9 billion in 2013, 10.5 billion in 2014, 12 billion in 2015, 12.5 billion in 2016, and 13.1 billion in 2016. In November 2015 Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution that extends the program until 2020, as well as increasing university funding to 14.5 billion (2 and 1.4 billion respectively) for 2016 and 2017. Hence, the project budget for 2013-2017 is made up of a total of 60.5 billion rubles.
The increase in funding is mainly due to the inclusion of six more universities in the project. The Council is looking at opportunities to extend the list to an additional 10-15 universities: as the current list does not have any representatives of universities in the field of agriculture or transport.
- Distribution of subsidies
Every year the Ministry of Education allocates funds amongst the universities based on an assessment of their implementation of the program for enhancing the competitiveness (“road maps”) and their current position in various world rankings.
From mid 2015, the project leaders and the best universities in the country are: HSE, ITMO University, Tomsk Polytechnic University and Tomsk State University. They are receiving subsidies of one billion rubles each year. NSU is developing steadily. It received 592.4 million rubles in 2013, 775 million in 2014 and 761 million in 2015. In 2016 Council endorsed funding of 900 mln USD to the following universities: KFU, MIPT, MISiS, HSE, MEPhl, NSU and ITMO University.
Conversely, in September 2014, the Council did not approve the “road map” of ETU, deeming it unappealing for international students, and prohibiting from using the budget of 600-700 million rubles allocated in 2013 for the first stage. The university is still participating in the project, however, in two years time the “road map” will be reviewed.
- Economic Policies of the Ministry of Education and Science
In late 2014, the Government planned to severely cut the funding of the project, however Dmitry Livanov suggested to keep the amount of government support as it was before the economic crisis. He was notified that more funding will not be given, and the Ministry would have to cover the difference from its own budget.
- Criticism of the Project
The Ministry of Economic Development’s initiative in the educational sector brought about much criticism. The economist, Sergey Guriev, who at the time was the rector of the New Economic School (NES), believed that the government should subsidise student loans as it is responsible for high interest rates.
The Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee on Education, Vladimir Burmatov sent an inquiry to the Accounts Chamber with a request to check the full expenditure of funds allocated to the Ministry of education for the project “5-100”. He believes that there are a number of questionable purchases. For example, sending money directly to the organisers of the rankings, large sums spent for the organisers and participants of the project’s hotel accommodation (about half a billion rubles), air travel (more than 4 million rubles), banquets (2.6 million rubles) and meetings (more than 2 million rubles). Burmatov’s party "United Russia", even raised the question whether Livanov should be excluded from the Party for “a failure to reform universities and a mess in the education system”, but the head of the party Dmitry Medvedev rejected this initiative.
Andrey Rostovtsev, physicist and founder of the “Dissernet” project, supports Burmatov’s claims. In his opinion, in order to develop confidence in Russian Universities, it is important to restore the reputation of both the universities and their staff.
The Ministry of education considers this claim unfounded and refers to regular progress reports of the participating universities.
Russian Universities and International Ratings
The most authoritative world rankings for educational institutions are published by: Times Higher Education (THE) magazine, the British company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
These international rating agencies assess the universities on the basis of specific criteria. Some examples are the following: publicity and citations (h-index, which assesses the contribution of the scientist to science), the number of Nobel laureates, and the opinion of the academic community and employers.
- Times Higher Education
Only two Russian universities have made it to the THE Education World University Rankings, MSU, at 25th place, after being in the 51-60 group, and St. Petersburg State University, which is in the 71-80 group.
In the area of biotechnology and astrophysics, Russian universities cannot compete with overseas universities, and this is taken into account when making the rating. But besides the general world rankings, there are also rankings for specific categories. By advancing in these specific categories universities are able to achieve the projects aims. For example, the Times Higher Education for Physical Science ranking in 2015 included MePhl (36th place, 60 places higher than the previous year) and NSU (86th Place).
Another major university ranking system is THE – BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings (a rating of universities in the BRICS countries and governments with developing economies). In 2014, only two Russian universities made it on the list (MSU and SPSU), however as a result of the additional funding, in 2015, there were 7 Russian universities on the list, including some of the participants of “5-100”: MEPhl (13th place), NSU (34), MIPT (69), and MSTU (90). THE BRICS generates a constantly updated ranking for 2016, in which there are more universities involved in the program: SPBPU (18), TPU (20), MEPhl (down to 26), KFU (31), NSU (34), MSTU (up to 57), TSU (87), MIPT (93), MISIS (99), and UNN appeared in the lists for the first time and was ranked 193rd.
- Quacquarelli Symonds
Moving forward in the QS rankings has some subjective challenges. All of the universities participating in the project are far from the first 100 in the QS World University Rankings. NSU and MSTU are in the 300-400 list, and the others are even further. According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, the HSE rector, only MSU can reach the top 100, because 60% of the criteria for QS ratings is based on the votes of experts around the world, and Russian Education is not very popular at the international level. The rector suggests that the Ministry of Education should assist universities to develop international PhD programs and also put aside funding to support Russian Science Journals so that they can make it into the international database. Regardless, NSU and MIPT are now in the top ten best universities in the Emerging Europe and Central Asia 2015/2016 according to QS.
Academic Ranking of World Universities
The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARMU) is based mainly on universities where the graduates or staff are Nobel Laureates or have received the Fields Medal, as well as on how frequently the university’s researchers are cited by others. In 2015, MSU was in the 86th place, making it in the top 100.
Round University Ranking (RUR) is also an important ranking for universities which was not mentioned in the President’s statement. According to Thomson Reuters media company, ten Russian universities are placed in the top 200 for best quality of teaching. More than half of these are participants of the project. These are MSTU (106th place), People’s Friendship University (112), TSU (131), UNN (135), MIPT (143) and TPU (179).
Although the universities are still far from their goal, it is clear that there are shifts in the rankings since the start of the project in 2013. In two years, the number of publications in two International Databases Web of Science and Scopus doubled, while the number of citations has increased by 160%. The Deputy Prime Minister, Olga Golodets, believes that Russian universities are amongst the leaders in education worldwide in terms of intensity and advancement. Ben Sauter, the head of research at QS, also acknowledged the effort put in by Russian universities in 2014.
«Road Map» and University Achievements
- Creating joint educational programs with leading International and Russian Universities and Scientific Organizations.
- Attracting foreign students to study at Russian Universities, including through joint educational programs with international universities.
- Conducting fundamental and applied scientific research together with Russian and International Scientific organizations.
«Road Map», published on the project’s website, on the basis of which the universities can prepare their own development plans 
One of the important objectives of the universities is to attract international students and lecturers (at least 15% and 10% respectively). In May 2014, lecturers from universities and schools in Indonesia, Mongolia, Vietnam and India went through a Russian language course at the Institute of International Education and Language Communication (TPU). At TSU, there are currently 80 scientists from leading universities around the world. The percentage of overseas students can significantly differ even amongst universities in the same region. For example, at Tomsk Polytechnical University, there was about 25% international students, while at Tomsk State University only 9%. In general, these students are usually from former Soviet republics. According to this year’s data, ITMO university has more than 900 international students enrolled – around 6.5% of all students.
These universities participate in exchange student and teacher exchange programs. Some programs are funded by the Center of International Mobility and DAAD. For example, ITMO is a part of the Association of European Universities and the Baltic Sea Region University Network (BSRUN). HSE has around 30 double degree programs and around 70 partner universities around the world. Tomsk universities have signed contracts to work with the Vietnamese: TSU – with Vietnamese National University in Hanoi, TSUAB – with the National Research University of Civil Engineering, and TPU – with the Hanoi University of Science and Technology.
In order to attract International Students, Novosibirsk State University plans to launch Masters Programs in English. They are currently being developed in the Mechanical and Mathematics Department and the Department of Information Technology. URFU received about 761 million rubles in state subsidies and spends a great deal of it on internships and continued relationships with the Cambridge Center. Attention is also being given to developing English educational programs, particularly Masters Programs. Money is also spent on grants for international Undergraduate and Masters students.
Within their budget, universities are trying to integrate into the Online Education System. In November 2015, four Russian Universities (MePhl, MISIS, ITMO and URFU) joined the international education project edX, created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The program includes video lectures and tests.
The universities participating in the project can set up a Chair on the basis of institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A consortium will be created which would merge the School of Natural Sciences with the School of Biomedicine at the Far Eastern University with the Scientific Institutes of Far East branch of RAS. An effective use of the budget’s funding is on modern equipment. One of the new laboratories at MIPT was created due to the “5-100”. It has biosensors based on graphene, which will help in pharmaceutical research, for example, the ability to conduct preclinical testing outside a living organism.
The project “5-100” also helps to build and open new campuses, for example at NSU and the polytechnical university.
The idea of businessmen to create a reserve of managing institutions, which was announced at SPIEF 2015, was supported by Vladimir Putin and he urged them to collaborate with universities and participate in their curriculum development.
Furthermore, the universities attention is also focused on school education, and as a result, many universities have preparation courses. About 65% of school-aged children in Russia are involved in extra-curricular after school education, which is fully covered by the state. The 5-100 project gives special attention to those fields related to engineering and technology. The Ministry of Education funds have assisted to update equipment in colleges and technical schools. This prepares school students for specific higher technical education and subsequently will increase the ranking of the universities, which are known for their physics and technical achievements.
Participation in Events
Events are organized to give the participating universities an opportunity to receive important information necessary for achieving their objectives, to network with leading professionals and look for new partners, to discuss current issues related to the project and to share their experience.
Just in 2015, there were more than a dozen events in Russia and abroad with project participants. Of these there were some particularly significant international events:
- BRICS & Emerging Economies Universities Summit
- International Conference “Education and global cities: prospects of BRICS”
- International forum “Academic Fundraising’
- International Educational Opportunities Exhibition (AULA) in Madrid
- European Association for International Education (EAIE) Annual Conference
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conferences & Expo
- Project 5-100 at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum
- Project 5-100 & QS Worldwide Seminar-Conference at UNN (in collaboration with QS Asia)
- Annual National Exhibition and Forum “VUZPROMEKSPO”
- “World fame of Russian universities in the Internet space from the Webometrics point of view” seminar
Regular seminar-conferences on the progress of action plans for increasing competitiveness (“road map”) in the 5-100 project.
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