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Meeting of Moscow State University Board of Trustees

December 24, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Board of Trustees held via videoconference.

The participants focused on the development strategy for Moscow State University to 2030.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,

I am delighted to have you here and wish you happy upcoming New Year holidays. I would like to wish you good health, realisation of your work plans and life plans and, of course, implementation of the plans related to the Board of Trustees.

As always, there are many items on our agenda. First of all, I would like to discuss the results of the implementation of the Moscow State University development programme.

Much has been achieved over the past decade. The University has made strides in training and research, and its infrastructure, including social, training, laboratory and digital, has greatly expanded.

Importantly, Moscow State University’s standing among the world’s leading intellectual centres has improved; it has become more appealing for international cooperation, for young researchers and talented students from different countries.

Today, without any exaggeration, the University has become one of our backbone platforms, one of Russia’s leading research and training centres and, without a doubt, we always mention this, the flagship of the national higher education system. Credit for this certainly goes to the trustees who are present here. Let us just put it a little more modestly – including the trustees.

Importantly, colleagues and friends, you not only provide Moscow State University with financial and organisational help, but, most importantly, you put your hearts into your noble mission and are always there to help the university overcome the problems it is facing. I want to thank you for this active, engaged and informal participation in the life of Moscow State University.

The main issue on the current board agenda is the university’s development plan until 2030. We actually started considering these matters at the previous meeting and identified a number of key objectives.

They include the effective implementation of the so-called top-to-bottom education and research programmes, the faster and more energetic introduction of a promising interdisciplinary approach in teaching and in scientific research. According to experts, it is a thing of the future and should help us achieve real breakthroughs, find and offer complex, out-of-the-box solutions to fundamental issues of technological development.

And of course, the further arrangement of the modern university environment requires attention – I will tell you about this in more detail in a moment – an environment where the depth and versatility of knowledge, collective creative search and team spirit are valued, and where students, teachers and scientists will feel comfortable, engaged and motivated.

I hope that Mr Sadovnichy [Rector of Moscow State University] will also tell us about it, as well as about the progress in creating major research and educational schools at MSU. I would like to ask you to elaborate on what practical results are to be achieved by combining the intellectual resources, what tasks it should help perform on a new level in personnel training and in science and technology projects, and how this should affect the university’s competitiveness in Russia and in the world.

Let me remind you that back in 2013, the rector of Moscow State University proposed an ambitious idea of ​​creating a territory for innovative development at the university, a science and technology valley with greater investment appeal and a globally competitive environment for R&D.

It is in fact a pilot project for MSU as well as for our entire science and technology community. We were saying so from the start. And we knew that many complex knots would have to be untangled at the preparatory stage. I am referring to management, property, land, legal and regulatory issues.

Again, much of what we have been and still are doing are firsts, where experience still needs to be gained, and best models need to be elaborated to combine the efforts of Moscow State University, federal agencies, the Moscow government, and our leading companies and high-tech businesses.

It should be noted, and I think you will agree with me, as many of you were involved in this work, that unfortunately, not all emerging issues could be resolved as quickly and effectively as we would have liked. There were bureaucratic and inter-agency inconsistencies. That is the way it goes when tackling complex issues. I hope all obstacles that hampered the project are now behind us.

I know that now the organisational period is over, the technical obstacles have been removed and various formalities settled. This means we can assume that all conditions for implementing this large-scale project have been created. Now it is important to instantly gain momentum and fill our work with meaningful content.

Our colleague Andrei Fursenko [Presidential Aide] has told me a lot about this. I hope this is exactly how Moscow State University and other participants in the project understand their goal. Their goal is not only to develop the territory of the future Vorobyevy Gory Innovative Science and Technology Centre. The main goal is to turn it into an example of innovative development and productive partnership of education, science and business that would result in competitive and commercially viable developments and products that are in demand in the world market as well as the economy, industry and social sphere of Russia, and of course in the life of a metropolis like Moscow. This must also have an impact on the life of our capital.

I would like to note in this context that the Moscow government is taking an active part in implementing this project. We have spoken with the Moscow Mayor about this several times. The city has allocated over 10 billion rubles to design and build the Lomonosov cluster, which is being created as a launch pad.

I believe we have every opportunity to launch the first facilities of the technological valley in the next year and a half or two years. I would like to ask you to start construction not with administrative and executive buildings but with laboratories and research venues.

The infrastructure for Vorobyevy Gory Innovative Science and Technology Centre must be completed by 2025 when Moscow State University celebrates its 270th anniversary. Colleagues, I would like you to record this deadline in the instructions following this board meeting.

The university and the centre’s management company must concentrate on creating the best possible conditions for the work of scientific, creative and business teams at the technological valley.

It is very important at this point to use the intellectual potential of the university’s science and education schools that are now being formed. I would like to emphasise once again: it is the synthesis of top-level education, fundamental science and the introduction of new knowledge and developments that will allow the university to continue attracting gifted students, talented teachers and young scientists as well as entrepreneurs, and not only from Russia but also from other states. To achieve this it is always necessary to move forward.

Colleagues, the coronavirus pandemic has become a major challenge for the world and our country, including the education system. I would like to thank the faculties of our universities and, of course, Moscow State University, for ensuring stability and continuity in education.

The fact that a fairly effective digital infrastructure has been created at this Moscow university and other universities over the past years clearly played a great part here. I am aware that the Moscow Digital University was created several years ago and is operational. Game-changing opportunities for distance learning were created in previous years, even before the outbreak of the pandemic.

Once the epidemiological situation gets better, the students will, of course, return to their classrooms and normal university life will resume, but this challenging experience must, of course, be put to good use in the future.

We are talking about continued development of universities’ digital capabilities, new approaches to combining various forms of teaching and teaching technologies. This is important if we want to keep up with the fast-paced changes in the modern world.

Each university in our country has something to offer here. It is imperative to share their experiences and to formulate concrete proposals and recommendations regarding successful and productive approaches to combining distance learning formats with practical education and actual research activities. I would like the university – as a flagship of our higher education – to take part in addressing this objective, and do so not only within its walls, but on a national scale as well.

Here is what I would also like to say. The pandemic challenge faced by our civilisation has clearly and convincingly shown the importance of the spheres that determine the safety and quality of human life, such as healthcare, education, environmental protection, research and technology, the input of the people who devote themselves to this work, fulfill their professional duty, often take the unbeaten path and enrich themselves and us with new knowledge, which they pass on to the younger generations.

This contribution to the future of our country deserves special recognition on the part of the public and the state. This is a segue to what I would like to say in closing. We discussed this, including during our meetings with the representatives of higher education institutions.

So, I would like to propose declaring the coming year 2021 the Science and Technology Year in Russia. I wanted to do this at a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Moscow State University, which a world-class university.

This concludes my opening remarks.


Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

In closing, I would like to once again thank Moscow State University’s senior officials and faculty for their work over the past year and during the reporting period, the results of which we have now learned from the rector’s report.

I hope Moscow State University will remain Russia’s leading education and research centre.

That said, I cannot help but agree with the Finance Minister, who said that the strategy and development plan for Moscow State University, which is our country’s largest research and education centre, must be closely linked with Russia’s national development goals. I always mention this when I meet with our leading researchers and senior officials from this area. The President of the Academy of Sciences is aware of it, and we always discuss this during our meetings.

I believe university science should make a corresponding contribution to the country’s development. I mean, of course, the core activities of education institutions and the training of personnel for the industries that are in dire need of high-quality specialists in new areas.

I would like to hope that everything will turn out this way. Mr Sadovnichy, I would like to congratulate you, the faculty, staff and students of Moscow State University on the incoming New Year and express hope that together we will work energetically and with good results in 2021.

December 24, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region