St Petersburg University has undergone an international public accreditation of the education programme "Liberal Sciences and Arts" at SPbU. The experts to evaluate the first in Russia programme of liberal education were selected by the Agency for Higher Education Quality Assuarance and Career Development (Akkork), an independent agency included in the Rosobrnadzor's register and since 2005 working in professional education. Akkork's evaluation report is used by employers and professional communities for professional public accreditation of education programmes.
For a start, the experts gained insight into how the University is organised. SPbU Vice-Rector for Methodological Support Marina Lavrikova told about major pilllars of educational process in SPbU. - We have our own educational standards, and the main criterion of education quality is career success of our graduates, - she said in her greeting speech.
The members of the commission were taken on an excursion in SPbU's buildings and premises, told about extensive resources the University's libraries offer, shown a state-of-the-art laboratory on cognitive research etc. Professor Tatyana Chernigovskaya told more information on "Cognitive Research": - The lectures cover a diverse range of research areas: psychology, mathematics, neurophisiology, linguistics, philosophy... Cognitive research is primarily an experimental area and we actively collaborate with the world's leading research institutions, in particular the Institute of Brain, RAS. We host seminars and workshops by the top researchers on a regular basis: Professor Sir Roger Penrose has just visited us with a lecture, - she said.
Interviewing students and academic staff was a crucial part of the accreditation. The experts were flabbergasted by proficiency in English of students and lecturers and as the commission comprised two foreign members, interviewing switched into English.
The senior students were asked to tell about their thesis and how they had been tought. The four-year students said that 90% of diciplines are elective, so, along the main diciplines, they can study those diciplines they are mostly interested in. Although the University offers a wide range of courses, the students lack practical courses in painting, sculpture, music etc.
This was also mentioned by those who had graduated "Liberal Arts and Sciences" - they came to their alma mater to tell about their career. What was the most memorable was how after getting a Batchelor degree one girl had been employed by the Mariinsky Theatre to work with the department of special projects - the Theatre had been represented in the State Examination Comission and highly lauded her professional skills.
The experts also met the employers and concluded that the students graduated the programme are highly prepared for professional career. Among the companies that work with the students are the Hermitage, Mail.Ru Group, and Institute of Brain, RAS, to name but a few. The main skills of the students are flexibility and ability to work in a new environment. The employers told that the students are well-educated and broad-minded. The professional community only advised to incorporate into the programme those courses that develop creative skills and educate and prepare for professional career during the first years of study.
To sum it up, the commission appreciated a high level of education and, what is more important, an atmosphere of understanding and resepct among students and academic staff. The only one of its kind, "Liberal Arts and Sciences" is a unique educational project to adopt a foreign format Liberal Arts to educate and prepare students in Russia. Not only some aspects of liberal educaation have been incorporated into the programme on the humanities, but we have created Liberal Arts College. The programme is both unique and of the highest degree of excellence, - said the Head of the Department of the Humanities of the Institute of Social Sciences of RANKhIGS Evgeny Mironov.
The final report on the international accreditation is tentitavely scheduled for February 1, 2017.