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Rector of Russian University Alexander Bezborodov: By co-operating with dozens of universities in BRICS countries, we gain invaluable experience

The expert spoke about the situation in education in Russia and the BRICS countries

Rector of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Alexander Bezborodov was born in 1954 in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives. In August 2018, he was appointed Rector of the Russian State Humanities University. Among his scientific interests are the history of Russia in the second half of the XX – early XXI century, the formation of scientific and technical policy of the USSR in the second half of the XX century. Author of more than 300 scientific publications.

In an exclusive interview for TV BRICS he spoke about the problems and prospects of education development in the country.

The Russian education system is known in many countries as one of the best in the world. How will it develop in the future to become even more perfect?

I am sure that the Russian education system is becoming more and more efficient every year. First of all, this is due to the development of the whole range of specialisation training areas in natural sciences, exact disciplines, and technical disciplines. But humanities education is not lagging behind in this respect. It is very important for us to bear in mind that in the near future the reform of higher education in Russia will gain new momentum. We are talking about the fact that the opportunities of specialisation will be used more widely. We will not forget that international co-operation is expanding, especially in recent years. And the Russian Federation will have, as it does now, relations and dealings with a number of countries that have a two-tier education system. In order for this education to be relatively compatible, we will retain bachelor's and master's degrees, for example, in international relations. This is very important. This symbiosis, which is formed and shaped by life, will be the most sustainable in the near future and will create opportunities for the efficiency of Russian education and its quality to improve. Including through the use of global experience, including the experience of the BRICS countries.

More and more foreigners are seeking higher education in Russia. In demand are professions in medicine, mechanical engineering, energy, and others. How comfortable do you think our education system is for citizens of other countries and how highly valued is a Russian diploma?

Higher education institutions in Moscow, St. Petersburg and some other centres have a very comfortable system related to accommodation. It should be understood that this is an important attraction for our partners abroad, including those from the BRICS countries. The example of higher education institutions where accommodation is properly organised should be replicated in Russia. And then universities in Central Russia, Siberia and the Far East, which receive many foreigners, will be guided by it. In general, a comfortable environment is a task that is being solved everywhere in the country.

Speaking about postgraduate studies, which prepares personnel for scientific and teaching activities, are there many foreign postgraduate students in Russia today? And in your opinion, what contribution do they make to the development of Russian and world science?

According to our data, more than 10,000 foreign postgraduate students are currently studying and working in Russia. But this is not the limit. This figure needs to be increased. The point is that postgraduates are those who are inclined to conduct deep scientific research. They can do this in co-operation with Russian scientists, postgraduates and students.

And in Russia, science of any direction natural, technical, humanitarian – will only develop at an accelerated pace and gain new heights.

The Russian State University for the Humanities is among the top 200 best universities of the BRICS countries. What is this rating and how honourable is it for the university you head to be in it?

There are no limits to perfection here, so we have to go higher. We respect the BRICS countries very much, we form our relations at a rather high level with each of these countries and with those who will join the ranks of BRICS in 2024. This association is growing, very promising, and has excellent global opportunities for development, including higher education.

By co-operating with dozens of universities in BRICS countries, RSUH is gaining invaluable experience in language contacts, studying the culture and art of these countries. Interaction between students from Russia and India, China, Brazil, Iran – is very active today.

In general, how do you assess the BRICS countries' co-operation in the field of education? How can the countries of the association be useful to each other in view of its expansion?

We have a lot of opportunities to develop education. Each university has successes in this respect, but the potentials that are not utilised are very significant. Without this, it is impossible to study the culture, education of other countries, political system, economy to the proper extent. The BRICS countries are our reliable partners, our educational systems work for our joint future.

Young people who come into contact with each of these countries in the process of higher education are already gaining vast language experience and training in a whole range of disciplines.

Not long ago, the Russian State University for the Humanities and Girijananda Chowdhury University of India held a scientific conference on indigenous languages and culture. Why are such projects important?

Such a conference was held online at the end of January. Our representatives from the International Centre for South Asian Studies attended it. The fact is that we study and teach Indian history, languages, culture, art of this country, and interaction with our partners is invaluable.

The materials of this conference will be used in the teaching process of the South Asian Studies Centre. As well as the materials of our Russian-Brazilian meetings will be used in the activities of the relevant centre. It was established last year. I am not talking about the Confucius Institute. It is already more than 15 years old, it exists and functions very successfully. Over the last two or three years, the contact with these countries and the intensity of interaction has increased greatly.

In 2024, Russia chairs the BRICS. Many events are planned, including in the educational sphere. Personally, as the rector of a respected university, what would you be most interested in talking to your colleagues about, what kind of experience would you like to share?

It is very important to me that in 2024, when we and our colleagues from the education system of the alliance countries will work more closely together, social and humanitarian education will not fall out of sight, that new programmes and tasks will be outlined, thanks to which we could act for the long term.

And I think that special attention should be paid to separate meetings on humanitarian education, its prospects and demand in the modern world.

In the age of rapid technological development, I cannot help but ask about your attitude to the fact that some universities around the world have officially decided to write diplomas with the help of artificial intelligence. On the one hand, it was created to make our lives easier, but on the other hand, isn't it more correct and interesting to think with your own head?

It's best to think with your own head. We have a very reserved attitude towards the possibilities of artificial intelligence. We have seen works written with the help of such programmes. It is not a high scientific achievement and it is not practised at RSUH.

Writing graduate papers with the help of artificial intelligence further aggravates the student's ignorance of this or that problem. We already need to improve the quality of education in the humanities and higher education today.

What do you think the education system will look like in 10 years? It does not have to be Russian. At what age will it be necessary to decide on a profession and what kind of specialists will be the future?

It is hard to say what will happen in 10 years. It is obvious that the role of humanitarian knowledge will increase, if only because the problems of humanitarian tasks in the world are getting worse every year. And it is necessary to train specialists who would be able to understand these issues. The practice of humanitarian education will also be in great demand. Today, systematic humanitarian education in schools and universities gives the best results.

What specialities are in the future?

Biotechnology, information technologies. Psychology, complex of pedagogical sciences, philology, history. Fundamental historical training should be an integral part of any education in Russia.

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