The working group at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia has held a meeting to discuss methodological and regulatory foundations for conducting financial and operating activities by educational institutions. This year, St Petersburg University hosted the meeting.

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Aslan Kanukoev is Director of the Department for Economic Policy of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. In his opening remarks, he pointed out that the pandemic is not an obstacle to discuss important issues and develop solutions enabling the universities to improve their regulatory basis. ‘We have to understand what’s important for the universities, so we hold the meetings of the working group in different places every year. It helps to involve all universities into the discussion, while we have an opportunity to see the current status at any given organisation. Due to these meetings, the Ministry can analyse the situation and provide the universities with the required help and support,’ said Aslan Kanukoev.

The meeting of the working group was attended by the representatives of: the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation; St Petersburg University; MGIMO University; Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service; Derzhavin Tambov State University; Plekhanov Russian University of Economics; Saint Petersburg State University of Economics; Yaroslavl State Technical University; and the National Research Moscow State University of Civil Engineering.

Representatives of the universities made presentations and discussed initiatives aimed at developing facilities and resources at universities.

The meeting participants paid special attention to equipping halls of residence, forming the accommodation costs and distributing the places among students. One of the most important topics was efficient use of the residential premises at universities.

Natalia Kuzmina, Vice-Rector for Financial and Economic Affairs at MGIMO University at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, noted that in case of extra places in halls of residence at some universities, the universities should use the tools allowing for independent compensation of their maintenance costs. 

One of the options for such compensation can be increasing the share of additional paid services that could apply to 15% of the residential premises.

Natalia Kuzmina, Vice-Rector for Financial and Economic Affairs at MGIMO University at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia

Pavel Moiseev, Vice-Rector for Digital Transformation, Property Management and Facilities at Derzhavin Tambov State University, on the contrary emphasised a deficit of places for students. ‘The number of students exceeds the number of places available at universities. Thus, we have to fund the construction of new halls of residence as well as redesign the current buildings as part of major renovation, so that we could provide places to all who need them,’ said Pavel Moiseev.

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, Corresponding Member at the Russian Academy of Sciences, pointed out that using the student halls of residence as public facilities accessible to the representatives of other state educational and research institutions is one of the potential trajectories for further development.  

I believe that all the university property accumulated due to governmental funding is public property including halls of residence, sport grounds, laboratories with research equipment and other facilities.

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University

‘This property should be used following the rules established by the Ministry of Science and Education. There should be a single data base of such property indicating its current status and availability. The regulatory documents by the Ministry of Science and Education should clearly state the rules of using such property both by the organisation entitled by the government to manage it and by other organisations that seek access to this governmental property. St Petersburg University has already adopted such a method of public property management in respect to research equipment at the Research Park at St Petersburg University, but not yet at the halls of residence. Since 2014, the Research Park has offered open access to the equipment with the general cost exceeding 7.5 billion roubles. In a similar way, our University disburses funds allocated by the Russian Government for scientific research. Since 2010, the funds have been distributed based on the competition open to any researcher worldwide. The winners are selected by the competition committee of external experts,’ said Nikolay Kropachev.

According to Ilia Bedrachuk, Vice-Rector for Economics and Human Resources at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service, a university is not only a public system, but also an economic one with a certain degree of financial independence and certain restrictions.  

The issues of economic efficiency are important for all universities today. However, most universities tend to lose money by providing accommodation services.

Ilia Bedrachuk, Vice-Rector for Economics and Human Resources at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service

‘Thus, it is important to develop a model for the hall of residence to break even by focusing on the comfort and expanding the range of additional services,’ proposed Ilia Bedrachuk.

The working group participants stressed that all the proposals should be analysed, since all the discussed issues require thorough elaboration.