Dzhomart Aliev: It's time to end the bologna process
The reason to prepare this material was another analytical gem of the well-known and diligently anonymous telegram channel "NEZYGAR". There are only 7 paragraphs, and each one is a lie. Let's run through the text first.
  • [The spiral of rejections of everything pro-Western in favor of the post-Soviet has spun so much that the voices of "experts" calling for abandoning the Bologna education system have become audible.]
    Our voices have never been silenced in the professional community; it's just that today they have begun to be heard in the general information space, too.
  • [To understand the futility of such ideas, you will need a short digression into history.]
    They do not need any excursions to form a position, and their notes compiled "according to the methodology" are definitely not enough for us; we would like to understand the essence.
  • [The Bologna system was launched in Russia in 2003.]
    Again, a direct lie — in September 2003, Russia only joined the socalled Bologna process at the Berlin meeting of ministers of education. The post-Soviet education system itself then was being destroyed for another 6 years.
  • [What has changed: one could complete a number of training areas not only as a specialist, but also under the new 4+2 scheme, that is, bachelor's and master's degrees. By and large, we can say that new diplomas have appeared in Russia.]
    Another lie, and again some kind of light, liquid one. Although it is precisely in the split of higher education into two stages that we can see some undiscovered, in our opinion, potential: this is a good technical opportunity to correct the error of educational choice if it was made immediately after school. We, however, are more sympathetic to the previously existing translation system, but this is also possible.
  • [That's all. That is, literally nothing else has changed. Teachers, textbooks, universities, rectors, training programs themselves, state standards and recommendations, the quality of education remained the same as before.]
    This is the main lie of this small note; literally everything has changed. And first of all, the paradigm of education has changed. In the past, we trained creators of the future, and now consumers of the present; we used to teach "why", and now we teach "how"; we used to focus on knowledge, and now on competence. And most importantly, we used to educate the citizens of the country, and now we sell services to customers!
  • [Due to the fact that the Bologna system came to Russia, our diplomas did not become better or more valuable for the West. They remain exactly the same. So, if the Bologna system is canceled, nothing will change in the opposite direction either. It will just be a populist political gesture.]
    Well, just everything according to the manual — "add a little truth." Our diplomas have not really become more valuable for the West, although it was this academic mobility that was declared the main goal of the Bologna reform at its initial stage. And they didn't get any better either; rather the opposite. And in the end is a lie, again: everything will change, and change much! Moreover, if we find the courage and willingness to get out of the Bologna comfort zone, everything will change in a fundamentally better way.
  • [As if we renamed Teremok to McDonald's and continued to serve bliny and dumplings there. This substitution of " fashion and function" was not clear to exactly everyone, and many ordinary citizens were misled: people rushed for "European" diplomas, although in fact only those areas of training for which such fragmentation was possible were divided into 4 + 2. The rest defended their right to a specialist's degree. There is no problem with it in Russia, and the numbers of admission to specialists are growing every year (about 2 out of 5 training programs today is a specialty). In order to improve the quality and independence of Russian education, completely different structural transformations of universities and ministries are required, one of the components of which is the rejuvenation of the management staff.]
    Ah, if only it was like that. In their images, exactly the opposite is true — their Big Macs began to be sold in our Teremok; moreover, they were made by the hands of our dumpling masters. For example, it is completely unclear to us what is the "independence of Russian education". Independence from whom? What for? At whose expense? Who wants education to repeat the sad experience of Russian culture in that "pour and move away" ads? Is it like "give us statefinanced openings in universities, and we'll deal with the content ourselves"? And who are "we"? What for, again? And in whose interest? This is no longer the 57th episode of the 11th series about life in a certain area of the N city; this is the education of our children, their and our common future.
In order to improve the quality of Russian education, a lot of things are required, although transformations with "rejuvenation" will not hurt. We do not need strange appeals, but, instead, we are looking for reasonable, balanced and, most importantly, meaningfully motivated actions. I would like to say a little more about this.

But first, let's finish the analysis of the reference note: somewhere, after all, these anonymous people have received the moral right to use quotation marks referring to Russian education professionals who are not indifferent and who are rooting for the effectiveness of their work and calling them "experts". They are not alone, and they did not appear out of nowhere. It seems correct to assume that such an attitude to the opponent's position, in this case, on the problem of "bolognization" of our education, is the direct effect of this very "bolognization".

Let's go back to Bologna, where on June 19, 1999, the Ministers of Education of 29 European countries signed the Bologna Declaration, creating the European Higher Education Area and opening it for other countries to join within the framework of the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe. This move was preceded by a meeting a year earlier, when the Ministers of Education of France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy, on the 800th anniversary of the University of Paris, decided that the segmentation of higher education in Europe hinders the development of science and education. They also decided that the higher education space should be standardized to increase the mobility of students, graduates and staff. They considered the mobility of actors within the combed educational space to be the main factor in ensuring that qualifications meet the requirements in the labor market of their countries.

During that year, the ideas of K. Allegra, Y. Rutgers, T. Blackston and L. Berlinguer have put some "weight" on, and the Bologna Declaration acquired 6 main premises:
  1. A system of comparable degrees through the diploma supplement for employment.
  2. Two-cycle training: preliminary (>3 years) and graduation (degree).
  3. Transfer of credit units (!) to ensure mobility.
  4. Development of mobility of educational actors and setting standards.
  5. Development of comparable criteria and methodologies (again about standards).
  6. Promoting European views (!) in higher education.

All these thoughts somehow revolved around that very mobility, but this time they were already directly correlated with strange attempts at qualimetry and rule management. Only one passage with labor intensity units is worth something. A direct and cynical conversion of the orientation of education from the result to the process. The truth about the rules administration was revealed much later, in the speech of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy J.Borrel: "We, the peoples of the West — the EU and the USA — we were and remain the rulers of the world. As long as we can set standards, decide what the standards will be... If we cannot dictate standards, we may lose power in this century." What can I add here.

In Europe itself, the implementation of the Bologna Process has a huge number of opponents, and substantial ones; everyone can study the "Black Book of the Bologna Process", which has already become a common noun, or look at the large 4-volume book on the Bologna theme published by MISIS in 2009. But all these problems and difficulties are their problems and difficulties. They shouldn't bother us.

Russia was involved in this experiment, as noted by "Nezygar", in 2003. We have not received any (!) mobility effects from the promised experiment for almost 20 years. The experiment in our reality has failed. We have to admit it and finish it. There is no need to talk more about the Bologna process. Its place is in the archive!

Russian higher education is quite another matter. What has become of it over these almost two decades with the parody of the Bologna process, and how to fix it. Precisely these mostly negative changes themselves are the bolognization of our education. They are the reasons for the destructive influence on several aspects of national sovereignty and security at once.

Let's make a reservation: without considering ourselves "experts" in the "became or did", "who did", "if they did, then why" discussions, we are not ready to take part in them. Moreover, we believe that today they are not the first priority. We respect Alexander Herzen very much ("Who is to blame"), but we see our role close to Nikolai Chernyshevsky ("What to do").

So what to do?

The actual management of the scientific and educational glade in the last couple of years has objectively received a new and positive dynamic, despite the constant approach of various "black swans" to us, starting with the pandemic and continuing with the sanction madness. Realizing that the administration of the educational environment, especially at the current moment, is an area of exceptional complexity and is carefully and professionally handled by those who are supposed to do it, we do not see our value in analyzing how the situation has developed (#AsIs).

We do not seek to impose ourselves on the resource pool of reformers, if it is ever created. We would just like to share our views on the educational and scientific landscape in which we would see our work as optimal in order to do it as efficiently and result-oriented as possible (#ToBe). Here is a descriptive "hot ten".

1. Educational balance. An attentive attitude to the balance of higher and secondary vocational education not only does not contradict Article 43 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Article 5 of the Law on Education, but also directly sourced from them. A decrease in the number of universities with a balancing growth in the number of colleges would add development logic and career stability to our educational environment. We are convinced that such a reform would also cause a positive reaction among employers: the system consisting of 1 engineer and 10 masters looks pyramidally more stable than 10 engineers and 1 master (even if the truth is somewhere around "3 by 8").

2. Future roles. Fundamental education is difficult to measure with an applied ruler or to cram into an applied framework. The opposite is also true. At the entrance, you can measure inclinations, but it is not valid to predict success. It would be good to educate future scientists and future practitioners in different ways, with different procedures, processes and even according to different standards. But within practitioners, it is more effective to see procedures, processes and standards for training current practitioners and development practitioners as one.

In terms of those societies whose experience we have listened carefully to over the past 30 years, it would be good to see the third component P (practice) in the R&D (research and development) model. Perhaps this is not the best permanent strategy; but it is aimed to catch up and close the gaps. In any case, no one has canceled horizontal elevators in real life, and in modern society there are many of them now.

3. State order. State plan does not exist anymore (maybe it should be returned?), and closed educational planning is impossible. The closeness here is the willingness to guarantee the employment of all graduates who studied at the state budget expense. Hence, we have planning for a year and a half ahead, competitions to order, monitoring by the average score of the Unified National Exam, applications to several institutions, and so on. They are objective today: there is no state plan anymore. But tomorrow's education needs, as it seems to us, not only administrative mechanisms for managing educational efficiency, but also content-related ones. The position "here's a state order for you, and here's a state program and state textbooks for you" will be accepted with joy by few today's participants in the educational process. For it is responsibility, leaving the comfort zone, loss of certain freedoms, etc. And the problem of a qualified customer will also worsen. But the possible effect is too attractive: from reducing the share of errors in educational choice to the possibility of restoring the distribution system of young professionals. Naturally, taking into account the democratic institutions that have developed today. The norm established by the Law on Education, which allows placing state orders in non-state universities/colleges, generally speaking, will not need to be revised; although there are certain arguments in favor of revision.

Without quoting Orwell, it should be noted that in general, intramural and extramural education modes give different results. And if we take into account the personal development-related aspect of higher education, they will always show difference.

4. Educational appetites. In fact, this is not a completely independent topic; it is rather a hybrid of the three preceding ones. But its meaning is such that we see it right to treat it separately. Despite the fact that for 30 years no one has been able to meet the stabilizing, balancing "invisible hand of the market" that we were promised to get, there is no planned economy in Russia today. "Not anymore" or "not yet" is a matter of taste and professional position. How will the answer to the question "how many and what kind of specialists will we need in several years?" be formed in the new educational landscape? Who will answer it and with what consequences? And what tools will the responder have? The predictivity of the educational market today is so low that it is difficult to ensure the reliability of even enlarged forecasts such as "how many fundamentalists, applied scientists, services, humanities will we need and what kind of them will we need". How to keep up with the constantly changing realities of employer markets today is also not entirely clear (to them as well). The mantra "let's not predict the future, but create it" in this case will not help much. It seems that we cannot do without a large neural network project for creating a prototype of the AI of the state customer.

5. The first higher education. Another hybrid thing. Not all subject areas are the same in terms of locomotivity and supporting function. No one will ever say who will give a greater effect in development — a doctor or an artist, a programmer or a lawyer, an engineer or a psychologist. To us, the very formulation of such a question seems provocative. But enriching the first higher education with capacious modern general cultural and mindset-related concepts would seem extremely appropriate. Imagine a medical student receiving a short course in art history, a software student receiving a legal framework, an engineer who is briefly taught psychology. And vice versa is also true. There is nothing but benefit if a psychology student is given an orientational natural science course. And the time for such an expansion would ensure a careful reading of the content of the main and even profile subjects. Since we have a master's degree as the second stage, there would be a metallistic, nominalistic, transactional, Cambridge theories of money, and even Keynes, leaving only monetarism in the bachelor's degree (one can't do without it). Or maybe time for this has already been found, since we are telling firstyear medical students in physical education classes about the history of the Olympic movement.

6. Educational paradigm. Since it will most likely not be possible to reconsider the view of higher education as a service, it will be necessary to return personal development to higher education "at an angle". The most honest option is an external appointment of relevant specialists to the management of educational institutions. Moreover, to any educational institutions: state or non-state, it does not matter. If you have a state license, take a specialist. Two important questions: who will appoint those specialists and where will they find them? Any state institution has a state founder; a non-state institution has educational supervision at the level of government entities. And where to get specialists? Today — get from the correct state structures, possibly with a special vocational training; tomorrow — they need to be professionally trained in the same state universities and colleges.

7. The superiority of the KKSA (knowledge, skills, abilities) model. We do really want the dominance of knowledge education over competence education. But it is much more important that employers really want this. Recently, employers' satisfaction with graduates' knowledge has fallen below 10%. The general fashion for various corporate universities, the demand for custom-made vocational training programs programs and the trend for all kinds of accreditation practices, and even in self-regulating organization formats — these are the reasons. Professional project coordination with the teaching community of filling the basic didactic materials and subsequent ongoing coordination with their dynamically changing expectations in the core disciplines would greatly help to reverse the trend. And if we take into account that the largest employer in our country is the state, then organizational issues in this problem look effectively solved.

8. Educational modes. Without quoting Orwell, it should be noted that in general, intramural and extramural education modes give different results. And if we take into account the personal development-related aspect of higher education, they will always show difference. This is the truth, after all; it would be good to admit it and try to demolish it. In the educational landscape of tomorrow, the extramural first higher education is an exception to the rules, and diplomas with honors for part-time students of the first higher education are issued only according to the "four eyes" principle. Remote submission of primary educational material and remote control measures for the second stage and vocational training are possible only in specialized software and hardware complexes. They are already good today, and if one works with them properly, they are objectively capable of providing good quality. And it would also be fair if a mark on the education mode returned to the diplomas.

9. Continuous education. This concept seems to be one of the most complex in the educational landscape of tomorrow: on the one hand, it is definitely necessary, because the dynamics of our life has changed a lot. On the other hand, its careless use disorganizes education, stimulates harmful manifestations and, at the household level, can equate education with repair work which, as we know, cannot be completed, but can only be stopped. Speaking seriously, there is a need for a formed and declared state position in relation to continuing education. It is, in a certain sense, declared today, understandable and supported by the majority of educational actors (by us, anyway): the state is ready to finance only the first higher education. Then would it be fair to stop regulating vocational training? And if a foreigner who already has their local diploma enters Russian universities through Rossotrudnichestvo? It turns out that the state still finances the second higher education, but not to Russian citizens. If at least some of the above-stated ideas are ever realized, there will be more such small, but open questions.

10. International mobility. Finally, the main Bologna goal. The re-installation of the educational system has not helped us in achieving this goal. But in the future educational landscape, it would be very correct to have a clear understanding of two topics — for which employers do we train our graduates and/or develop our scientific and pedagogical staff? Are we so unsure of our educational system that we are ready to format it for someone initially? If there is clarity here, there will be no problems — we are developing and broadcasting the sovereign Russian educational landscape outside. Naturally, universities will be able to independently map their programs with the expectations and structures of any foreign landscapes and help their graduates/scientists/employees on a contractual basis in the recognition of their credentials. Any other mechanism of the Russian educational and scientific landscape, including for the sake of being present in the international scientific and educational community, will be self-discriminatory; it should be abandoned.

The Russian educational and scientific environment today is a powerful professional community, a fusion of experience and youth in the best sense. It has managed to preserve its splendid traditions to a large extent. Despite all the damage taken from the Bologna process, we have all the necessary potentials for a real rethinking and, if necessary, transformation of the relevant landscape. Whether these opportunities will be preserved in the future and when, is an open question for us. But it seems to us that it is not worth delaying with this.
Dzhomart Aliev
First Vice-Rector of the Russian State Social University
PhD in Economics (Bauman Moscow State Technical University), Doctor of Philosophy (Kennedy Western University, USA).
From 2000 to 2001 worked as First Vice President of LUKOIL-Europe, and from 2001 to 2002 — head of the Center in the parent company.
2002–2012 — Bank URALSIB, First Deputy Chairman of the Board.
2012–2015 — Director of Rosatom Overseas.
2016–2017 — Chairman of the International Higher School of Business MIRBIS (Institute).