What promises Russian higher education to reduce the period of study in the master’s program

Let’s start from the end of the academic year, which is usually used to write and defend a master’s thesis. There is an opinion of Margarita Simonyan who believes that qualification work is not a knowledge test and should be abolished, in fact the situation is the same exactly the opposite. The qualification thesis is an integral approach to checking the student’s ability to perceive problems important for his industry, describe them, apply the methods of solving the problem learned during the training, understand the limitations of these methods and, as a result, assess the degree to which the question posed received an accurate and exhaustive answer. The qualifying thesis also teaches written communication with the professional workshop. All these skills are shaped with good scientific guidance and time availability. Therefore, it is required to write a more or less serious master’s thesis about three months. Without it, the quality of education in the magistracy decreases.

If we subtract these three months, then the student has at his disposal 1.5 semesters or 3.5 modules – depending on the curriculum. With this limitation, basic courses will have to fit in the first semester or in the first two modules, and specialist courses in the remaining incomplete semester or in the last modules of the curriculum.

How many courses can you read for a program whose lecture part is only 7-8 months long? With a deep examination – less than a dozen. For example, a graduate will 8 subjects Does this level of training correspond to the status of “profound professional knowledge”? Hardly.

Of course, by engaging in bureaucratic desecration, the situation can be greatly improved on paper and worsened in reality. For example, you can include many more courses in a program and report that students deal with many more disciplines when in fact adding courses will make them more superficial.

You can also turn a blind eye to poorly written qualifying papers that do not meet serious requirements. Finally, you can try to cancel the teachers’ summer vacation and organize a dissertation defense in August, adding a few months to the curriculum to accommodate a few extra disciplines. Either way, the maximum you can get from a one-year master’s degree is 8-10 courses and qualification work based on them. This is professional training, but not very deep.

A massive transition from two-year to one-year master’s studies will certainly not be a disaster.

First, not all Russian two-year master’s programs cover enough disciplines to study for two years. For this reason, many programs used the same material that was taught in undergraduate studies. It may be beneficial for them to go to a one-year master’s or specialist studies.

Secondly, world experience shows that annual programs are able to fill the middle segment of the labor market. For example, in the Netherlands, one-year Master’s degrees are common. They do not give great competitive advantages, but they allow to train quite high-quality office bureaucracy and line workers performing tasks of medium complexity.

One-year master’s studies in Russia will cope with the same task. For deeper training aimed at performing more complex tasks, it is difficult to dispense with a two-year master’s degree, assuming that the master’s degree is preceded by a four-year bachelor’s degree or equivalent. Therefore, universities could have a choice in deciding on the duration of master’s studies.

And students who prefer deep education may be given the opportunity to study as part of a two-year master’s program. For those who are satisfied with a workplace where tasks of medium complexity are performed, one year may be enough. In addition, it is quite possible that foundation courses at the graduate level will be covered by pre-master’s education, and one-year master’s studies will consist of specialist disciplines.

Today, however, Russian higher education faces more complex problems. This includes a mass exodus of professorships, related to both emigration and layoffs, as well as even more severe restrictions on teachers and researchers remaining in the higher education system than before. The professional environment, which should be more horizontal – after all, the purpose of academia and education is to generate and discuss ideas – is becoming more and more hierarchical.

Such processes, of course, will not kill Russian education, but they will do much more damage to it than reshuffling educational programs in terms of their duration.


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