Valery Falkov on the Results of 2016-2017 Academic Year and New Tasks for the University

Education 8 September 2017

Dear friends and colleagues!

At the pivotal meeting of the Academic Council, held in August 2015, I finished my speech with a quote by Mao Zedong: “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills”. We felt that change was in the air and reacted appropriately, predetermining the University’s development for many years to come.

Due to clear aims, significant assets and reasonable ambitions, we have managed to leap into the top league of Russian universities.  

Today, two years later, I can claim that we have succeeded in making the winds of change beneficial for the meaningful, determined and fruitful advancement of the University.

This can be proven by the fact that, after the International Council meeting in March, the University improved its position in the 5-100 Project and was placed in the second group. It is a very important result for us as the University was evaluated not only by representatives of Russian academia and government but also by international experts.

And now I would like to look more closely at the most prominent aspects of the university's activity and the most significant events of the previous academic year.


Why do we need international students?

I would like to draw UTMN staff’s attention to attracting international students to the university. Why do we need international students? It is not just a box to be checked or a tool for improving our positions in rankings. For us, international students are a kind of marker, indicating the level of our competitiveness.  

The presence of international students builds a special environment within the university. And if these students are talented, it doesn’t matter where they came from.

If international students apply to UTMN, it means our programmes are in demand. Currently, most of our international students come from CIS countries but in the near future we aim to attract more students from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

About education

When thinking about the university’s future and forming the priorities of its development, it is essential to understand the historical context. We live in a wonderful time as we stand at the beginning of a new technological revolution which is already radically changing our lives. The sooner we comprehend the scale and complexity of this phenomenon, the more competitive the university will become.

The development of information technology has brought about a mass demand for online education. For the last two years, we have been paying special attention to this educational sphere: we have established a fully equipped laboratory for online courses and trained specialists able to create interesting courses. In this regard, I would like to note that UTMN has won a grant from the Modern Digital Educational Environment in the Russian Federation programme.   

The new technological revolution has made us reevaluate traditional educational approaches and teaching methods.

In late July, the federal government approved the Digital Revolution in the Russian Federation programme, defining the main means by which digital technology underlies a new way of living.

This new order means that it is essential to develop digital know-how and competence in working with big data in every student starting from their first year of education.

About the transformation of the educational process

UTMN is one of the first universities in Russia to make a big step forward in the sphere of its education policy. Four UTMN institutions and the School of Advanced Studies have dared to undertake the bold experiment of implementing individualized educational trajectories.

We have set ourselves a considerable goal of creating mechanisms and tools for the individualization of education and through this to give every student the opportunity to create an individual development trajectory. It will become the new UTMN educational model for years to come.

Individualization as a key principle of educational policy and mass educational practice is beneficial both for students and professors. Each student is given a unique opportunity to construct a curriculum that is relevant to their specific field of interest, while professors can realize their most ambitious and creative plans. In addition, we are able to build a competitive academic environment, which enhances the attractiveness of the university.


About the School of Environmental and Agricultural Biology

I cannot fail to mention UTMN’s two new groundbreaking subdivisions – the School of Advanced Studies and the School of Environmental and Agricultural Biology.

Speaking of the first one, I would like to note that we launched this unique project in Russia over the course of a year. The project would not have been made possible if it hadn’t been for the strategic sessions that took place three years ago, had we not joined together and tried to form an image of the university of the future.

The concept of the second faculty – the X-Bio School of Environmental and Agricultural Biology – was endorsed by the Supervisory Board in July. In October, we plan to present the project at the International Council meeting.

The format of the X-Bio School will be different from SAS. The X-Bio School will have more technological equipment, a professional postgraduate education and annual international summer schools in agriculture and forestry.   

It is very important to note that we have managed to maintain already existing faculties and their staff while, at the same time, creating a greenfield zone and concentrating our resources on two new directions, where we will be able to realize our most daring ambitions.    

In conclusion, I would like to say that people keep asking me the same questions: we would like to move forward, but what kind of future are we working towards? Where are we heading? What do we need to do?

I usually answer that the future is not clear not only for UTMN, but for all universities. Most likely, the future will be what we try to make it. We need to build a culture that is open to change at the university, we should not passively wait for changes to occur or be afraid to move forward. By taking part in UTMN’s transformation, we will create a university that fits comfortably into our future lives. 


Source: UTMN Office of Strategic Communications

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