universities to compete

Andrey Berezin Will Teach Russian Universities to Compete with Swiss Ones

The Swiss education system is a phrase that speaks volumes amongst a large amount of people. It is founded on centuries-old traditions, a unique university environment, and in-demand diplomas. And it is also about the severe tuition fees.

Meanwhile, Russia has the chance to develop a similarly solid network of educational institutions. Especially now, when not only the state, but big business are all getting involved.

Unique Technicians And In-Demand Business Leaders

A systematic university education came to the country of dwarfs and chocolate relatively late; in 1460, in Basel appeared medical faculty, which later grew into a full-fledged educational center, and to get the second university in Lausanne, Switzerland, it needed roughly a hundred years. By then, Switzerland had more than 50 universities, from Lisbon to Krakow and St Andrews in Scotland to Pavia in Italy.

However, the Swiss cantons later managed to catch up and even take the lead. Today, Switzerland is one of the most attractive places of learning, not only in business administration, but also in the exact sciences. The Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich (ETHZ) are the undisputed leaders in the latter area.

Both schools have been earning their status for decades, and today they are considered unique for their capabilities in all fields of engineering and architecture, working with new materials, electronics and high-tech.

Both institutions are state-supported and can afford the best world-renowned scientists and special technical equipment. For example, the Polytechnic of Lausanne has nuclear reactors and plasma physics laboratory.

Despite this, suppose training in polytechnic schools in Switzerland is the destiny of only the most gifted brainiacs. In that case, getting a diploma of the already mentioned MBA, albeit challenging, is possible. Contrary to popular opinion, a thick wallet is not enough alone that is needed for admission.

A serious entrance exam is required, and some business schools require proven management experience and a set of informative essays. The need to know the official language of the canton in which the school is located is not mentioned in detail.

Even if you’re a jack-of-all-trades, the wallet is still needed. Training costs range from about 15 to 55 thousand Swiss francs a year. In dollars, the amount is about the same, but, of course, the investment is justified; graduates of business schools in Switzerland are waiting with open arms, and large corporations and government agencies in most countries.

Moreover, statistics calculated that the average income of the holders of Swiss MBA diplomas was 130 thousand dollars a year.

The Best Universities in the World: Rating QS World University Rankings

University Country
2 Stanford University USA
3 Harvard University USA
6 ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Switzerland
14 Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Switzerland
69 the University of Zurich Switzerland
74 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russia

There Are Results. Is It Enough?

Of course, the Russian professional education system has some weight. This is not to mention the giants at the level of Moscow State University, dozens of Russian universities remain centers of international education, each attracting dozens or even hundreds of students from abroad annually.

However, it is worth realizing that most of this status is a legacy of the Soviet era and the geopolitical division of the world into camps of that time, and if today it is still possible to ride out this legacy to a certain extent, whether this will succeed in a later generation is a matter for debate.

This is not to say that nothing is being done to improve the relevance of the Russian education system. Contrastingly, this kind of work has only intensified in recent years on the part of the country’s government and line ministries and departments. Among the latest initiatives is the creation of student research laboratories, of which there are over 500 at universities. In 2021 it cost about 8 billion rubles, and this year nearly 12 billion rubles.

Large federal projects, covering to some extent most of the institutions of higher education, add consistency to this work. Among them is the state program Priority 2030. Its main goal is to achieve a more effective connection between the work of universities and the real sector of the economy and to make Russian university science a factor in increasing the competitiveness of domestic goods and services.

There are already 121 universities from all federal districts of the country in the orbit of the program. Recently a separate track has been added for the regions of the Far East, and its implementation will surely make it possible to increase this number even further.

However, the main thing is not the number of participants; far more important is the effectiveness of their work. In this respect, there is also much to be happy about; the project’s information line is full of new reports on promising developments developed by the country’s universities.

The latest technology is a technology developed at Ural Federal University that protects solar panels from water and increases efficiency. A compact and mobile tomograph for diagnosing brain injuries, a team of scientists from the Siberian State Medical University created it.

The work is going on, and there are good results, but will the Russian state have enough strength to single-handedly implement the most ambitious task of modernizing the higher education system?

Business Connects

At least one Russian entrepreneur decided to provide his answer to the question above; it was a negative one. St. Petersburg resident Andrey Berezin, co-owner of the Euroinvest holding company, suggested that the authorities’ current efforts can hardly be sufficient.

He explained his view of the situation in a recent interview with one of the newspapers of the Northern capital: “Have you read the book Technologies of the fourth industrial revolution”?

It was written by Klaus Schwab, one of the founders of the Davos Forum. What used to matter was a territory, markets, and raw materials. All of these things are gone and do not mean anything anymore. Now it is the time of the knowledge economy: only human capital, the intellectual potential of a country matters.

If you know, then you don’t need machines or markets; you come up with the product, and the rest of your product will be brought to you. There is a division between those who can create something and those who are useless to the world, even consumers. This happens everywhere, and the main thing for us is not to fall by the wayside.

As you can see, the idea was expressed in a rather harsh and straightforward manner, without any frills. It may well be thought of as a critical jibe at the government, but this is not so. Berezin does not criticize the system, he only states the existence of a problem he intends to solve. How exactly is he going to do this? Simply by creating an entirely new educational institution in St. Petersburg.

Truthfully, it will not be a university yet, because a businessman, even a highly motivated one, would hardly be able to undertake such a task, but Berezin’s goals are slightly less ambitious. He plans to supplement the city’s educational system with an academy for gifted children. He is also ready to build it.

The construction plans are more than serious: the talk is not about a single building but an entire campus. Several academic facilities, science laboratories, halls for creative activities, and a sports complex with a swimming pool will be located on its territory. Besides that, there will also be living quarters for students and teachers because the head of Euroinvest wants to create an institution with a boarding school system, as he considers it the most effective.

In addition to all the above, it is also worth mentioning that the academy will have its pier and even a beach, all because the complex is planned to be located on the shore of the picturesque Lake Bolshoye in the Kaselevo neighborhood.

Still, no matter how rich the equipment is, another factor is much more critical for the fate of the educational institution – human resources. Understanding this, Berezin decided to solve the problem from the very beginning. It is known that he has already managed to form the basis of the staff of the future academy. It is supposed to consist of teachers with experience in the 45th Physics and Mathematics School, one of the city’s best and the country’s whole.

No Short-Termism

Despite this, there are inevitable doubts that the project will be completed; too many times we had heard before about eccentric rich people who rushed to solve some social problem, achieved even some results, but soon becomes bored and left to do something else.

Fortunately, this seems to be different from the owner of Euroinvest. Education, although it has never been his main field of activity, has long been one of his priorities.

To all appearances, he was just solving his corporate problems. Ten years ago, Andrey Berezin’s holding started to form its industrial package; initially, it included the St. Petersburg enterprise Svetlana, and it was later joined by the plants Rigel and Recond.

All of them, in one way or another, are connected with the radio electronics industry. Svetlana produces all kinds of radiators and microchips, Rigel manufactures storage batteries and other power supplies, and Recond has many capacitors, resistors, and other radio elements.

At the same time, all three enterprises before their acquisition by Euroinvest suffered from the obsolete equipment base and the lack of personnel, both managerial, engineering and design, and workers.

First of all, the holding opened a line of financial support. Secondly, it started to look for good specialists. Svetlana, for example, even managed to bring entire small teams, including developers of devices based on high-frequency currents, who had been out of work after the specialized research institute was shut down.

After working to find competent personnel, Andrey Berezin came to the conclusions of the quote above. After that, both he and the holding headed by him started to enter the educational field with their projects more actively. They helped implement outside projects, such as the educational venues run by the Leonhard Euler International Foundation for the Support of Mathematics. Then we experimented with our formats, including a stipend for the best undergraduate and graduate students in St. Petersburg universities.

In the last couple of years, the holding has shifted from supporting individual projects and young talents to supporting entire educational institutions. One example is the Gymnasium in Gatchina that received from Euroinvest a complete set of new furniture.

However, it was not just a sponsorship move. Instead of old tables and chairs, the gymnasium received unique furniture designed by the methods of the famous pedagogue-innovator Vladimir Bazarny and allowing the best protection of the health of junior high school students.

Berezin then came to his current project of building a new academy already having a rich experience in the successful implementation of smaller projects. If you remember that one of the first spheres of business in which he succeeded was construction, you can come to unambiguous conclusions; the head of Euroinvest will certainly be able to build the academy and breathe life into it.

We can only rejoice that there are more people in the business community in Russia who are not indifferent. After all, this gives hope that their efforts will enter into synergy with the work of the state and will lead to qualitative changes for the better in the entire education system.

Russian universities will be able to compete with Swiss universities not just in some regions of study, but across the whole spectrum. This will be a long-term goal, but the first steps have already been taken in achieving it.

Press Portrait

Andrey Berezin was born in 1967 in Leningrad.

He graduated from high school No. 239 with an advanced degree in mathematics. In 1990 he graduated with honors from Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute (VOENMEKh) with a degree in automatic control systems engineering. In 1990, he enrolled in postgraduate studies at LMI and started a similar business.

In 2017 he was awarded a certificate of honor by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia for his significant contribution to the development of Russian industry and many years of diligent work.

Euroinvest Investment Company is a multi-profile holding company that has been carrying out investment activities in St. Petersburg, the Leningrad Region, and other regions of Russia for several decades. The range of Euroinvest investment interests includes high-tech industry and innovative developments to real estate development and comfortable housing construction.

One of the critical elements in the structure of Euroinvest Group is its construction division, Euroinvest Development, which is engaged in the construction of housing and other facilities, thus forming a full-cycle development business.

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