Internationalization of a University as a Challenge


The article deals with internationalization of Russian Universities – one of the top priorities of Russian higher education to date. Higher education by its nature is deeply reliant on integration of individual institutions into the global academic universe, as it aspires to enlighten students to the frontier of human knowledge. However, in the 2010s Russian Universities adopted a rather narrow understanding of internationalization, based on formal requirements advanced by international agencies evaluating quality of higher education. Their instruments neglect various specific functions, which internationalization could play in the development of individual institutions of higher education as well as the role of industry as a whole in advancing national capacities of particular countries. As a result, many Universities find themselves in a pointless hunt for higher positions in various international rankings. Thus, internationalization becomes an end in itself. In this respect, the author considers the experience of one of the leading Russian Universities, MGIMO, and outlines two major challenges of internationalization for Russian higher education, including its effects on quality of teaching and financial sustainability of Universities. A genuine and useful internationalization involves joint academic programs, in research rather than in education per se, which can become the elements of global scholarly infrastructure. Practical steps in this direction should include liberalization of the law and the tax policy towards foreign students, professors and scholars. A successful internationalization of Russian higher education is only possible with a cohesive University community, while today competition between individual institutions prevail over the search for the common cause.


internationalization; global educational environment; world university rankings; Russia; higher education.

Authors: Anatoly Torkunov

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