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FEATURE STORY

Higher Education in Tatarstan

August 12, 2011


The Republic of Tatarstan values education and has long prided itself on the scientists who graduate from its universities. One of the most economically developed regions in the Russian Federation, Tatarstan spends more than average on university–level scientific research, but its scientists are often isolated from their international peers, and their findings sometimes lack recognition.

World Bank Group

The Republic of Tatarstan values education and has long prided itself on the scientists who graduate from its universities. One of the most economically developed regions in the Russian Federation, Tatarstan spends more than average on university–level scientific research, but its scientists are often isolated from their international peers, and their findings sometimes lack recognition.

The republic is looking to raise the profile of its higher education to attract well-known professors and more students from outside Tatarstan, as well as more private investment. The aim, a national priority, is to develop colleges and universities that offer degrees for graduates who can earn high salaries and contribute to their region's economic development, or ones who compete well abroad.

To reform wisely and spend resources strategically so its institutions can compare with the best, Tatarstan analyzed its higher education system in cooperation with the World Bank. As a result, the partnership tailored development strategies for individual universities and academies, and improved the capacity of educators, administrators, and strategic planners.


" Experts from the World Bank suggested that Kazan should become an educational hub; this will allow us to attract the cream of the crop of youth to Kazan. "

Ilsur Metshin

Mayor of Kazan

Fee for service analysis is innovative, both for the World Bank and for Tatarstan. This work and other development arrangements like it in the Russian Federation were among the first of their kind in Europe and Central Asia.

Starting in 2008, the World Bank brought in experts in their fields from around the world to Kazan, Tatarstan's capital city, to offer real time reviews of academic content and to figure out where improvements in education could be made. Together with World Bank experts, they talked to management, professors, teachers and students from twelve universities in Kazan, and took a public opinion poll to see how they ranked in the community.

President Rustam Minnikhanov of Tatarstan welcomed analysis of higher education from the World Bank and Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.

Bottlenecks to better service were diagnosed, and ways of building local capacity were suggested to regional authorities, local experts, policymakers, and university leaders.

Among the recommendations was the use of more modern education methods and offering specialized degrees. Better cooperation among universities, more language training, and more focused high school curricula with better-trained teachers to prepare students for university were also needed.

Out of that work in 2009, a strategy for higher education development was drawn up and presented to regional and local government officials. On the institutional level, the World Bank helped train universities managers to design strategic plans for their institutions, organized dialogues between universities as they made those plans, and facilitated discussion among universities and officials from Kazan City administration as well as from the Republic of Tatarstan.

This work contributed to the foundation of a federal university in Kazan. In 2010, Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University was established by the Russian government on the basis of the former Kazan State University.

"Experts from the World Bank suggested that Kazan should become an educational hub; this will allow us to attract the cream of the crop of youth to Kazan," said Kazan's Mayor Ilsur Metshin.

But reforms extended beyond institutions to the community. A bottom-up approach was suggested, one that focused on building strong local ownership of higher education and on forging links between students, families, and universities.


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