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Plenary meeting of the Russian Rectors’ Union Congress

April 26, 2018, St Petersburg

Vladimir Putin visited Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University and attended a plenary meeting of the 11th Congress of the Russian Rectors’ Union.

Some 600 rectors from Russian and international universities have come to St Petersburg for the Russian Rectors’ Union Congress to discuss the development of a common education space and Russia’s scientific and technological development strategy, as well as universities’ cooperation with general schools and society, and Russian universities’ international activities.

After the plenary meeting, the President visited the Research Building at St Petersburg Polytechnic University, saw the university’s advanced R&D products and a miniature model of the technology valley being created on the basis of the university.

* * *

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

I am happy to welcome all of you to St Petersburg Polytechnic University, which Sergei Vitte founded at the time of Russia’s rapid industrial and economic growth, the so-called first industrialisation period at the turn of the 20th century when the country badly needed its own technology and forward-looking professionals. As the rector told me, the best period in the university’s history was when its Board of Trustees was chaired by a finance minister.

From 2000 through 2016 spending on higher education from the consolidated budget went from 24.4 to 523.3 billion rubles. These funds went toward increasing salaries for faculty and researchers, creating laboratories and research centres within higher education institutions.

Today, here at this outstanding university, I propose discussing the goals of universities at the current development stage and exchanging opinions on what universities can and must do to achieve technical breakthroughs that can propel Russia forward, something we have been talking about a lot lately.

From the very outset, let me make it clear that I would like to hear not just what challenges you face, but also specific, substantial proposals. Of course, it is natural to highlight issues that may exist, but I hope that you will focus on specific proposals.

I would like to note the growing contribution by universities to research, new technology development, to implementing and training qualified personnel for projects at various levels.

Starting from the year 2000, government spending on higher education in real terms has increased more than four-fold. Let me emphasise that I am speaking about an increase in real terms. From 2000 through 2016 spending on higher education from the consolidated budget went from 24.4 billion rubles to 523.3 billion rubles, which is equal to a 4.2-fold increase in real terms.

These funds went toward increasing salaries for faculty and researchers, creating laboratories and research centres within higher education institutions, and some of them recruited leading international researchers.

All these efforts are already bearing fruit. I would like to note the growing contribution by universities to research, new technology development, to implementing and training qualified personnel for projects at various levels, ranging from national to regional and municipal initiatives.

We see that Russian universities can actually deliver, which shows us that change is underway, and we must make sure that this trend gains momentum.

Colleagues, Sergei Witte, whom I have already mentioned, said that a well-thought-of university is the best mechanism for promoting research. Today, this message rings as true as ever.

Universities and other higher education institutions are expected to evolve into hubs of technology and human development, and serve as economic development drivers for economic sectors and regions.

Of course, we have the unique framework provided by the Russian Academy of Sciences and its institutes, and we are proud of it. That said, promoting research within higher education institutions is what Russia, the national economy and all other sectors need. Let me emphasise that research cannot be limited to just a few academic centres or regions, or develop in isolated clusters. This is a critical point for Russia, taking into consideration its vast, boundless territory and unique human potential.

Let me reiterate that universities and other higher education institutions across the country are expected to evolve into hubs of technology and human development, and serve as economic development drivers for economic sectors and regions.

Universities should be at the core of a community of people eager to achieve a technological breakthrough. In this connection, I think that we need to develop regional models to facilitate interaction among innovators, high-technology companies, enterprises, and of course a university can provide a foundation for creating platforms of this kind.

The Russian system of higher education has already formed a core of very strong universities and other higher schools. However, along with this, many universities in capital cities and in the regions often fail to demonstrate their ability to resolve serious tasks and are not ready to meet the global changes.

And, of course, it is necessary to create a comfortable environment for technological entrepreneurship throughout the country. It is important for our universities, businesses and academic institutions to pool their efforts for implementing large-scale technological tasks and working in the long-term priority areas that were outlined in the Address to the Federal Assembly. These are primarily breakthrough changes in the living standards of our people and our economic and social development. To achieve this, we will need new medical, industrial, digital and other technology, as well as advanced and effective decisions on environmental protection and the creation of a comfortable and safe environment in cities and other residential places. In a word, we will need unconventional ideas and innovation in all areas.

We will certainly continue supporting the universities that are active and successful in research. We will continue upgrading their technological and instrumental plant and facilitating the involvement of our compatriots and leading scientists and professors from abroad in this work.

This is the point I would like to make here.

The Russian system of higher education has already formed a core of very strong universities and other higher schools. Naturally, this applies to Moscow State University, St Petersburg University, and federal and national research universities. A network of backbone higher educational institutions is being established in the Russian regions.

However, along with this, many universities in capital cities and in the regions often fail to demonstrate their ability to resolve serious tasks and are not ready to meet the global changes that are taking place in science and technology and in all areas of life. Attempts to change the situation are often reduced to wishful thinking and more programmes that, let’s be straight, are fairly speculative and divorced from reality, and to requests to simply give them more money.

It is no accident that I recalled Sergei Witte as the finance minister. Of course, it is great to lean on the Finance Ministry. This is clear. But it is also clear that the problems go beyond funding. The main role is played by a competent, modern approach to organising this work and, of course, by the personnel.

It is critically important for us to concentrate resources on supporting talented and goal-oriented researchers and teachers, to create an environment where the best Russian and foreign, and primarily young, researchers and promising graduates of universities seek to find employment with Russian higher education institutions.

I would like to ask the Russian Rectors’ Union and our leading higher education institutions to continue working on effective mechanisms for upgrading the professional level of the scientific and teaching staff at domestic universities.

I will also briefly discuss our graduate school system, the purpose of which is precisely to train staff for higher education institutions and academic research. How is it possible to resolve any of these issues, if only 14 percent of graduate students defend their theses in a timely manner? What are the rest doing? What are their accomplishments? Where do they continue their activities? Do they eventually defend their theses? And while lots of PhD and DSc dissertations, especially in the humanities, are defended, if you look at their academic significance, questions often come up.

Here is what I have to say about that. We have a good practice of open competition to distribute grants, including for young researchers. If a graduate student or his/her supervisor has serious plans to engage in research, rather that obtain a degree for the resume, let them take part in such competitions and submit work on the priorities of our country's scientific and technological development.

I would like to emphasise once again that it is critically important for us to concentrate resources on supporting talented and goal-oriented researchers and teachers, to create an environment where the best Russian and foreign, and primarily young, researchers and promising graduates of universities seek to find employment with Russian higher education institutions.

I think the right thing is to create the best conditions for start-up businesses at universities, as they can be the first step to creating successful high-tech companies.

A really good institution of higher education not only gives its students knowledge and skills, but trains professionals who will be able to set the intellectual, scientific and technological agenda for the development of the entire country. The aspirations of undergraduate and graduate students to create and find applications for their own R&D products should be encouraged. At the same time, universities can train entire project and design teams that are capable of developing complex engineering and technological systems. I remember how long we argued, and eventually made the right decision about creating small enterprises, primarily, high-tech, at higher education institutions. I believe we made the right decision in the end and decided to drop unnecessary administrative window dressing. However, we need to further develop these areas.

I think the right thing is to create the best conditions for start-up businesses at universities, as they can be the first step to creating successful high-tech companies. You know, it would be great if you could get this kind of work underway. Then, this sphere would be developing widely throughout the country, which is extremely important. Our youth have great potential to do so, by the way. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Moscow State University team on their recent impressive victory in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. Where is the applause? (Laughter. Applause.)

This applause is meant for the students. I think they deserve it. As you may be aware, in April of 2018 Russian students won the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest for the seventh straight year. In total, this is their 13th victory since 2000.

I propose to start an additional programme to build student campuses so that talented and motivated young people, regardless of their place of residence and their parents’ income, would have opportunities for higher education. We must by all means build modern comfortable campuses. (Applause) The new Government, regional authorities and universities must thoroughly work out all aspects of this programme, in great detail. Of course, there is always the financial factor but we must find money for this project. It is the new Government’s job.

Next. We need modern approaches to developing a common education space. The current trends in the economy, science and labour market require that young people have an opportunity to chart their own education trajectories, and to gain and integrate knowledge and skills from different areas. Therefore, we need to eliminate barriers between different levels of education. A gifted school student, for example, could take university courses or participate in research alongside postgraduate students. A vocational student could enter an applied bachelor’s programme.

I propose to start an additional programme to build student campuses so that talented and motivated young people, regardless of their place of residence and their parents’ income, would have opportunities for higher education.

I want to say that Mr Alferov already built a similar environment. I saw it a long time ago, it is wonderful, enviable. I think many colleagues could learn about Zhores Alferov’s experience. Thank you, Mr Alferov. (Applause)

There is another point I would like to make in particular. Within the next few years, we are to significantly improve the quality of the entire Russian education system. I am talking about improving academic programmes along with raising the qualifications of teachers at pre-schools, schools, colleges, vocational schools, further development of extracurricular education and the career guidance system, talent search and support. I expect that universities will be actively involved in this large-scale effort on which the future of the country and the success of the entire youth generation depend, without doubt.

Colleagues, we are setting some very difficult tasks for Russian universities and expect they will be improving their performance and competitiveness, getting rid of outdated and moribund approaches. Once again, I want to repeat that Russia needs a strong, future-oriented higher education system. Only this way we can achieve a breakthrough in national development.

Thank you.

Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University Viktor Sadovnichy: Mr President, colleagues,

We met here at the 11th Congress of the Russian Rectors’ Union.

About 600 rectors and presidents of Russian universities, as well as the rectors of universities from Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Slovenia, South Ossetia and Transnistria – about 50 foreign guests – participate in its work.

Welcome to our congress, colleagues.

Again, we are honored by the presence of President Vladimir Putin at our congress. We are grateful to our President for his constant attention to education in our country and his direct participation in meetings with rectors and other representatives of the education system. These meetings have become a good tradition.

Mr President, thank you once again for joining us.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you for your warm welcome.

Viktor Sadovnichy: Five panels were held before our meeting. Their participants discussed university education. The panel moderators will report on the results of these discussions.

During the past 10th Congress of the Russian Rectors’ Union, you, Mr President, raised a number of issues that are important for higher education. You issued a number of instructions that are important for the country in general. They concerned an independent assessment of the quality of education, creating national university rankings, and using federal property assigned to higher education institutions under operational management rights. There were a number of instructions concerning the affairs of universities and the activities of sports clubs.

Over the past period, Russia’s rectors and universities have done a certain amount of work, and I'm pleased to announce that these instructions have been carried out, and I will focus on some of them in more detail.

I would like to briefly go over one of your instructions, Mr President, which is related to upholding the interests of the Russian education system and its international position. It is about creating independent international university rankings. The Russian Rectors’ Union developed and created the Moscow international ranking entitled “Three Missions of a University.” That includes education, science and society.

Significantly, after developing principles for assessing the performance of international universities, we invited over 20 experts from different countries. There were experts from Canada, the United States, Britain, India, China and others. They studied and supported our approach. The ranking is up and running, and it has been compiled. According to it, the top 100 universities include those from 39 countries, with 13 from Russia.

This is significantly different from the results obtained by other rating agencies. By offering an alternative assessment of the Russian education system, we showed that it is really of high value. The Moscow international rankings, Three Missions, has already been recognised around the world. It offered its rules on a field where until now the game was played by other rules and, accordingly, prizes were awarded in a different manner.

Colleagues, what is Russia’s university education system today? It comprises over 800 education organisations including two traditional universities, 10 federal and 29 national research universities, 17 of which focus on engineering. It comprises 260,000 professors and lecturers and almost 200,000 specialists in top qualifications – PhDs and Doctors of Sciences. It boasts 4 million students and 83,000 post-graduate students out of the total number of 92,000 post-graduate students in Russia. Thus 90 percent of graduate schools are at universities. This means a huge intellectual potential. And the most important thing is that this potential is constantly enriched by young and talented students and post-graduate students.

Our organisation, the Russian Rectors’ Union, has been in place for 25 years. Throughout that time it has become an indispensable part of our education system. We are actively involved in legislative activities, interacting with the State Duma and Federation Council. We discuss many draft laws, which are reviewed by the Rectors’ Union. We have regional councils of rectors who also hold their discussions.

We interact with leading state corporations, employer associations and businesses. We continue to expand our system of intellectual competitions among children and youth to find talented young people. Over 2 million schoolchildren, starting with first-graders, take part in the academic schoolchildren contests we hold each year; this is a powerful system of intellectual competitions.

Numerous public organisations, Russian student construction teams, a football league, and athletic associations have been established with our participation. We are now supporting an important programme for volunteer projects and socially significant initiatives.

Of course, I have not listed everything; it would take too long. But today we are not just looking back, which hasn’t been an easy road. We have gone through difficult trials, not without achievements and success. We have faced crisis periods, and we haven’t succeeded in everything. There are problems waiting for solutions, and some of them seem formidable. But it might be appropriate to quote Confucius here who said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” So the 11th Congress of the Russian Rectors’ Union is called upon to draft an action plan for the future.

Our plan is also a response to the challenges life has confronted us with. They are of various scales, yet none of them should be left unanswered. They are global challenges in the information society, such as the advent of the digital era. They are tasks which are urgent for our huge country (Mr President talked about that) with consideration for current geopolitical conditions. And they are also professional tasks related to our community, our work.

I will start with global things. The information revolution has the most direct bearing on our core activities. Today, one cannot talk about developing education without accounting for this factor. We live in a unique period of human history. The mathematicians have a term to describe it – singularity. It is about how our technological and social reality is changing at higher and higher speeds, but in increasingly less predictable ways.

The environment around us is becoming increasingly digital. A report released last year by the international expert group, Digital McKinsey, entitled “Digital Russia: New Reality” noted that the digital economy in Russia is growing rapidly. It grew 8.5 times over from 2011 to 2015, which is faster than the growth of Russia’s economy in general. This growth of the digital economy accounted for a quarter of GDP growth in our country. However, the potential has not been fully tapped yet, and we must use it.

Speaking at the St Petersburg economic forum less than a year ago, you, Mr President, said, and I quote: “The digital economy changes the format of education. It is imperative to seriously improve the education system at all levels from school to higher education.” And then you raised the question: what do these changes mean for education, young people, and us?

Indeed, the very philosophy and even the ideology of education is undergoing critical changes right before our eyes. It is about what to teach and why. After all, occasionally we do not know what professional knowledge or skills our future students (Generation Z) will need, since they have been perfectly adapted to the modern technological environment since childhood. Clearly, we must give them the basic fundamental knowledge which they will use to engage in professional activities which we do not even know about today. These are completely new goals in the sphere of education and career guidance.

Our conclusion. The most important thing is to teach people how to learn and how to think. Fundamental knowledge is key. How should this be done? What is the role of the teacher today? The philosopher and teacher John Dewey, who lived almost 100 years, once famously said: “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

Let’s continue with the questions. What should the textbook be like? It is clear that we need to use new digital formats in education, including hyperlinks, infographics and interactive text. But how can we deny Gutenberg’s legacy? And, do Shakespeare and Pushkin live better in a book than on a computer screen?

Let’s not forget the recent Biblionight in Moscow, when 70,000 people went to libraries and bookshops on a single night, because they love books, which remain an unconditional value.

At the same time, three quarters of all students spend time deep in the digital environment. What is it filled with? Questionable products or reliable and reputable sources created by leading professors at leading universities. Should we just abandon the teacher and the mentor, especially in an educational role? Knowledge is not the only thing we receive from our teachers; we are also working on pedagogic skills. We adapt a manner of speech as well as techniques and pass them on to our students.

What measures should Russia take to train people for the digital world? The Government has adopted the Digital Economy programme. In 2020, higher schools must prepare 80,000 such specialists, and in 2024, as many as 120,000. This is, of course, a strategic goal. How should it be resolved? I would single out two aspects here: infrastructure and personnel training.

Regarding infrastructure, I would like to say that we have quite good and up to date equipment; we have received and are receiving a lot of support. For example, we rank high in the supercomputer race: three Russian supercomputers, all of them at universities, are included in top international supercomputer rankings.

Moscow State University’s supercomputer, designed by T-Platforma, is among the leaders. Today, this year, its capacity has reached five petaflops. The second most powerful supercomputer also belongs to Moscow State University and the third one is here, at St Petersburg Polytechnic University, which is our welcoming host today.

It is crucial that ten years ago the supercomputer consortium of Russia was set up under the umbrella of the Russian Rectors’ Unions. It incorporated 62 members, 47 universities and also institutes and academies. Throughout all that time the consortium has been in fact a vehicle of the digital economy. It conducts work on digitalisation, including such an important topic as creating digital doubles which is currently a priority of technology proper.

And for your information I will say that last week the US Government approved the budget of the programme for an exaflop computer, and they allocated 1.8 billon dollars to that programme. So the race goes on. But we have our own resource: we are stronger, we are ready to take up the challenge; we have the people and the brainpower. It is important not to cede the way.

Actually, mathematicians have calculated that, according to Moore’s Law on the exponential growth of calculating capacity, the speed of computers in the twenty years from 1992 to 2012 increased by 8,000 times. But in the same interval, computers aside, the speed of calculation increased by 400,000 times thanks to advancements in mathematics. As we see, the effect of mathematical progress is more powerful than the effect of advancements in computer technology. I have given you this data in order to emphasise the significance of mathematical education – which our President also referred to – as the cornerstone of fundamental university education in this era. Russia has strong mathematics schools. And quite recently the Moscow State University team won first place and became the undisputed world champion, while the teams of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the St Petersburg University of Information Technology, Mechanics and Optics also got awards.

I think such university contests should be streamlined in terms of organisation, and the Rectors’ Union is ready to lead the work on organising all international student contests. So far this work has been done at someone’s initiative only.

Education quality depends primarily on the abilities of the teaching staff and their level as researchers. Education in Russian universities is intricately connected with research. Enormous research capacity is concentrated here since university professors are also researchers, they carry out important scientific research. And according to the Web of Science, in the past year, of the 50,000 scientific articles published by Russian authors, 22,000 articles were published by university researchers, which is practically half. This demonstrates our enormous potential.

However, today the goal to translate research results into new technology is more important than ever. Last year, the federal law On the Innovative Scientific and Technological Development of Education and Research Organisations was adopted with cooperation from the Rectors’ Union. This law allows universities to establish innovative scientific and technological centres to implement scientific and technological development priorities, increase investment attraction and commercialise the research results. It is important to create all possible conditions at these centres to support university scientists’ creativity based on fundamental research to achieve breakthroughs in high technology. We must take a leading position in this field as well.

The research and technological infrastructure at Russian universities has improved significantly lately. As of today, 582 collective-use centres have the latest equipment, with 343 unique installations. In addition, more than a half of what I mentioned is in university system. Of course, universities need to cooperate, and they do cooperate successfully with the Academy of Sciences. This is our common treasure.

Of course, the development of universities, including scientific research, demand large investment. There are various estimates by liberal economists on the amount of such investment. But what is important? That we should not fall behind the world’s leading universities, and they, as we know, manage large sums of money. These are mostly investments coming from businesses. This is regular practice there, they have huge endowments. That said, we are not using the possibilities of public-private partnership and, what’s more important, partnership with businesses, as much as we should. This is also our common goal.

Mr President, I would also like to talk about postgraduate studies. We saw that 90 percent of postgraduates study at Moscow State University. I am concerned that today postgraduate studies are the third education level, while in the past it was academic personnel training. The goal of postgraduate studies is to bring up academicians and get them to know the field and the school, so that a young person will immediately become an academician. But now it turns out that we have lost the quality of postgraduate students training.

We agree with what you have said. There are various ways to improve the situation, but I believe that one of them is to return postgraduate studies to the previous scientific path. We discussed this with Alexander Sergeyev [President of the Russian Academy of Sciences] and I believe this is our common position.

And, of course, postgraduate studies should have a targeted form of training that businesses or lecturers can encourage with grants. There are some postgraduates who cannot earn money while studying, no matter how hard they try, such as abstract mathematicians or biologists. It seems to me that the issue of increasing scholarship funding, which currently stands at a little over 2,000 rubles, is a serious need, as well as attracting businesses and targeted training. Of course, we believe that professionals need to address this matter.

I will now say a few words about nationwide goals.

Russia is a major power and the world’s largest country in terms of territory with very many unique cultural and socioeconomic features. This is a vital advantage of the Russian culture, which comprises and is a synthesis of both Western and Eastern world outlooks. Russia is an organic combination of numerous nationalities, religions, ethnic groups and peoples. The Russian language is playing a key role in this unity as a cementing factor of our nation. We must always pay attention to this national wealth.

At the same time, we do see a certain imbalance in the development of the regions in the vast territory of our state, an imbalance that also affects our universities. It is obvious that our universities cannot have equal potentials and equally developed infrastructures, but all of them must graduate good professionals who are needed in their regions. Our young people must be able to realise themselves in the regions where they receive university education. Taken together, this must help to preserve the country’s unity and integrity.

There is a group of Russian universities with world-class research and education standards, as well as with a corresponding faculty. We believe that there are between 30 and 40 such establishments. But there must be more of them. Given the scale of our country, there should be 150 such universities. This must be our goal.

The question is how we can enhance the capacity of regional universities. The Russian Rectors’ Union has proposed the creation of research and education consortiums or clusters. For example, a parent university from the group of leading schools should assume obligations on a subject of concern for the given region, helping to organise respective branches and laboratories at this region’s universities. These leading and regional universities should prepare research projects, monitor post-graduate students, create a research school and research environment in the given region, as well as create conditions for supporting the young researchers who graduate from local universities.

I propose that we name this programme of research and educational mobility after Vladimir Vernadsky, to celebrate a scientist who created research teams at a number of universities in what was then a great country.

So, the Vernadsky Programme. It will naturally require funding for supporting regional universities. However, if our objective is to bring about steady and sustainable development for the region, which is a major challenge the country is facing, we need to find the means for delivering on this objective. Let me quote Gandhi, who said: “Find purpose. The means will follow.”

Some resources could be invested by the regions themselves, since the regions must be interested in this initiative. There is also place for business investment from the industries operating in the regions. The innovation infrastructure created in the regions (business incubators, parks) could be put to a better use. If all these elements come together and are provided to the regional universities, this could serve as a good foundation for students and postgraduate students studying new technology to undertake projects that are relevant for the business, as well as projects in social sciences.

By the way, talent search could become a separate, less daunting task if we think about it as a way to drive regional development. This would mean finding young talents in the region, putting them on the right educational trajectory and supporting them. Can it be that moving to Moscow or another city would not be necessary in this case? What we offer is different. We want to provide assistance and create an enabling environment in the regions. For that we need to establish specialised schools like Sirius, secondary schools at universities, as well as techno parks. Universities could provide a foundation for creating educational clusters. We need to merge the potential of schools, vocational training and higher education institutions in order to provide better career guidance and training.

Of course, this programme mostly targets the regions, but we are ready to back it with the intellectual resources of the leading universities and stand ready to preserve and strengthen national unity.

Universities must come to schools. This message has several meanings.

First, young teachers with quality training and a positive attitude must come to schools in remote and rural areas. It is up to us, universities, to develop training programmes for these teachers taking into consideration what has been said about the current priorities in the development of education. We have experience of this kind. We hold conventions of teachers in specific subjects to enable university faculty members and teachers to exchange experience and discover new insights. All these efforts should be part of a single educational space, meaning that the regions, and Russia as a whole, should benefit more from them.


Our country is part of the global science and education community. Universities are becoming more and more actively involved in international cooperation. The forms of cooperation and the academic mobility of scientists, professors and students is increasing. Joint projects, degree programmes – we know all that.

Demography is an important factor that influences the education situation in the world. The number of young people in developing countries is growing much faster than in developed countries, Russia being one of them. From the global demography point of view the distribution of universities across the planet is not right. The population in the highly developed countries of North America and Europe is ageing fast whereas the young population in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America is burgeoning and knowledge-hungry, as highlighted by the Youth Festival, but there are few universities there. This situation favours the export of our education, which has great potential. We have huge potential.

In recent years our community, aided by the state, has accomplished a great deal in expanding the range of services. For example, in 2000 Russian universities had a mere 54,000 foreign students, in 2010 there was three times that number (150,000) and in 2017 they had 244,000 students. Such mobility is very important, and it must be increased. It is not only about economics and increased revenues; the non-financial, human capital is important. The relations among classmates, students from various countries and future colleagues and friends endure. This is priceless capital.

The number of leading Russian universities’ branches abroad has grown. The first joint Russia-China University opened in Shenzhen in 2017. Mr President, thank you for approving this idea. The branch is operating. Rather, not a branch but a cooperative university. Also very important, Moscow University opened the first branch in a NATO country, Slovenia, and it works. In 2017 we created an Association of Foreign Graduates who have stayed to work and live in Russia and they are very helpful in the export of our education system.

Mobility is not only a unique thing to do with students. Rectors are also rather mobile too. Here are facts to prove this. Over the past three years, we held 13 – thirteen – international forums for rectors, which attracted about 2,000 Russian and international university rectors who discussed current education matters.

Several international associations have been established in that period under the patronage of the Russian Rectors’ Union, including the Association of Classical Universities of Russia and China, the Association of Leading Universities of Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Association of Universities of Russia and Japan (you attended the signing of an agreement on its establishment in Japan) and the Association of Universities of Russia and India.

One more interesting association has been created recently. In February of this year, we went to Beirut to establish a federation of university rectors of Russia and Arab countries. This federation now comprises rectors from 40 Russian universities and 44 universities of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Somalia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt, Oman, Kuwait and Palestine.

During that trip to Lebanon, we opened a Russian school in the Beqaa Valley on the border with Syria. Its 500 pupils will study the Russian language. Russia has helped repair the school and supplied equipment for Russian language classes.

I am pleased to say that Professor Sultan Abu-Orabi Al-Adwan, Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities, is attending our meeting. The Association comprises 150 Arab universities.

We carry on our international cooperation. In two weeks, we will go to Sapporo for a regular Japanese-Russian Forum of Rectors.

Colleagues, I am about to conclude my report.

Ours is a very interesting and responsible profession. We are nurturing our future, and every one of us can say what Mendeleyev used to say, Teacher’s pride is in his or her students. We have a lot to be proud of. Education and research professionals, we have students around us from morning till night. We know that they are active and open to innovation, talented, ambitious and ready to undertake new projects and implement their ideas.

The Lomonosov international conference of students and young scientists, which was first convened 25 years ago, has been attended by 300,000 talented young people from 75 countries.

Mr President, following your address at the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, I proposed the creation of an international union of young scientists on the basis of the Lomonosov conference. I am happy to report that we signed a memorandum on its establishment at Moscow State University on April 12. These young scientists will work on two projects: environmental analysis and big data analysis. The students from different countries who established this union are in this room right now and I would like to ask you to stand up so we can see you. Thank you to all of you, young people.

The International Union of Young Scientists is our project. It has been established in Russia, but its goal is to promote research, friendship and cooperation among young people throughout the world and to create a common future for all of us.

I would like to conclude my speech by wishing our young people as well as our universities every success and thanking you all for being here.

Colleagues, as I have said, we have held a meeting of five sections, each of them comprising between 150 and 20 people. Their moderators will report to this conference about the results of their discussions.

I would like to ask Mr Alexandrov, rector of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, to tell us about “The role of universities in the scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation.”

Mr Alexandrov, please go ahead.

Rector of Bauman Moscow State Technical University Anatoly Alexandrov: Thank you.

Mr President, Mr Sadovnichy, colleagues,

Among our five workshops is the engineering workshop, and we really discussed the role of our universities in Russia’s scientific and technological development. Both the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev and the Chairman of the State Duma Committee Vyacheslav Nikonov took part in the discussion. It was a long and interesting conversation.

We did not give ourselves the goal of wording questions to our President and asking him for money, far from it. “We don’t need bread, give us work!” There were more questions about what we can do today in the most efficient way to fulfil the tasks you, Mr President, set forth in the Address to the Federal Assembly.

And we realise, of course, that industry is in dire need of research engineers and designers capable of working in the new technological paradigm, in conditions of developing nature-like technologies. Solving this problem will probably require adjusting the current approaches to our universities’ performance and the assessment of that performance.

Responses to big challenges are only possible through the integration of the fundamental and applied sciences, and high-tech industries. And this role of an integrator could be assumed by national research universities that have many years of experience in realising inter-disciplinary research breakthroughs. And we are perfectly aware that knowledge will never become technology without an engineer. Meanwhile, there are examples, and many of them, where knowledge, including fundamental knowledge, turned into technology.

Let me present our example. Bauman Moscow State Technical University, for instance, annually produces innovative products worth four, five or six billion rubles, – it varies from year to year, while the St Petersburg Polytechnic – is about two billion a year. If we count all of us, it makes up a very large volume of practical designs, products which enter production, turn into iron, which means that they fly, shoot, feed, see, that is, the very products that let us build new approaches to tomorrow. And it would be reasonable here, probably, to form powerful research and education centres based on these universities, and later draw to them both regional and industry-based universities with a focus on digital capabilities and on the network character of interaction.

Universities can also act as integrators in resolving major national tasks. Again, an example. Last year you instructed Bauman Moscow State University and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology to engage in advanced Arctic technology. And in a very short time we managed to create and integrate large-scale cooperation between research organisations, state corporations, and eight ministries and departments. We focused on the most urgent issues for people working in the Arctic. We succeeded in concentrating the funding and this programme is now underway.

When we refer to such powerful centres or the experience of Russian National Research University (eight years of experience), the rectors say it is very important for these programmes to last for seven or eight years rather than one or two. In this time period it is really possible to establish leading engineering centres and labs at a global level. It is possible to form scientific schools and guarantee long enough periods of work for our Western colleagues that we might invite. There are many examples to this effect. We know how to do this today.

Our facilities have become stronger over these years – they have become different. At Bauman Moscow State Technical University alone we have 20 engineering centres that are absolutely at a global level. This is why Western scientists, such as Gregor Morfill consider it an honour to come to us and head one of our centres. He had an amazing experience. Being number one or two in the world in the field of plasma he suddenly realized that the technology used in industry is stronger in Russia, that it has an edge over others. This kind of cooperation is producing very serious results and we should rely on it.

Today, questions on postgraduate studies came up twice. Mr President, your strict words were painful to hear because this is a huge problem for us. The students lost their motivation, the conditions changed, but money is not the main point here although it is impossible to support one’s family on 2,000 rubles. But the main point is that people need to find their place on a scientific team. They should not be a student at the third or even the tenth level – this does not bring honour – but it should be in a team of scientists.

When you see every day how your teacher works, how he makes mistakes, how he agonizes over the solution to some problem, and then some paradigm, product or scientific effect finally appears – only then it is possible… Only as part of a team, blending in, you are becoming a scientist without noticing this. There is simply no other way.

But there is a solution to this. The universities that have laboratories conducting serious research attract even third-level students, but the amount of grants is not sufficient for all universities to involve their post-graduates in this work. We need to think about this.

We should probably revise our position and think about organisational ways to help our post-graduates. But we definitely should not reduce the training of post-graduates. There should not be just one or two post-graduates, this would be a dead-end. There is only one [Sergei] Korolev, one [Andrei] Tupolev and one [Vladimir] Vernadsky per hundreds and even thousands of people. We need to understand that technological independence cannot be attained without top quality researchers.

This is a serious problem. We are ready to work around the clock on it, but we need to combine our efforts. We also need assistance, including financial support, and also purely organisational changes. But this must remain the main part of our work, because we will not have a future without training young professionals. We do not want to think that this could happen, especially amid the growing global competition.

We realise, and we have said so, that the volume of knowledge doubles every two years. Today we provided examples of this during our discussion. For example, absolutely all computers around the world were inferior to one iPhone 6. There are many other examples, but the main part is that modern computers are still inferior to the human brain. In other words, we can still make many discoveries and learn many new things.

But we must ensure the lifelong training of engineers, which is primarily the task for universities. We can and must create a national system of advanced lifelong training of engineers. For this purpose, we should use the network methods of advanced training, digital systems, remote access and online courses. We have these capabilities, and we must use them to create a streamlined system of education. Engineers must work to improve their brains throughout their life.

Speaking about these goals, it should be said that our publishing activity has increased over the past few years. The number of articles we publish is visibly changing. It is interesting that I met with the head of Elsevier Russia shortly before this meeting, it was yesterday, actually, and he told us that articles by Russian researchers are among the top 1 percent of the most interesting and even landmark articles published around the world. In other words, our researchers have incredible potential.

We will continue this work by encouraging our researchers to publish their studies more extensively. But we should not forget about our own journals and improve their quality to meet the highest international standards. We must do everything to achieve this. We must have world-class academic journals and university journals published in English. Perhaps we have already mentioned this but we need to consider reviving the single national brand, a publishing centre. You gave us instructions two years ago regarding the Russian university ranking. We succeeded although there were some doubts about the outcome. It is now a recognised ranking. I think that if we set a goal for ourselves we can manage it as well. However, the Russian language must not disappear from our journals; it is our language after all. The quality of publications in Russian must be equal to the English publications if not higher thanks to the high level of our researchers and scientists.

And the last but one point. It is very important right now that we specifically address the issue of universities cooperating with defence industry companies. It is a very difficult job, it is not something ordinary and requires excellent skills and capacities and many other resources. Obviously, this work is highly important today. We must particularly focus on ensuring that it is independent technology-wise and build up a science and technology reserve for the future years and decades that would be ahead of other industries, and search for new non-conventional technology solutions.

Training professionals for the defence industry must be targeted. Study programmes must be developed in cooperation with leading experts, chief designers from respective areas, with the practices and experience followed and enhanced by industrial companies. The key role here must belong to respective schools and departments. It is important that we consolidate this experience.

It is important that educational paths overlap. We need technicians to know about engineering when they operate unique machinery. We need bachelors who can be production managers at their level. We need masters who can conduct world-class research. We certainly need developers as that is the most complicated engineering job. But we also need people who can take responsibility for creating completely new, pioneering projects; people, who can look into the future.

We are living in a difficult time, with economic declines, fluctuations and turbulence in international relations, with all these ‘Skripals’ and sanctions getting in the way. It is a time of making difficult decisions and a time of taking responsibility. On the other hand, it is a very interesting era that gives us huge opportunities.

Mr President, you are building a great and prosperous Russia. It is anything but easy. In this demanding job you can surely rely on our engineers, the Russian engineering school.

Thank you.

Viktor Sadovnichy: Thank you, Mr Aleksandrov.

I would like to ask Alexei Demidov, President of St Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design, to take the floor. His report is on universities and schools. Please, Mr Demidov.

President of St Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design Alexei Demidov: Mr President, Mr Sadovnichy, colleagues,

The issue of cooperation between universities and schools that was discussed during our section is one of the key issues for the education system. The review of the reforms in education in the past two decades prompts the following conclusion: a lot has been done but even more needs to be done. It seems that only recently each university had its own entrance examinations. Now everybody is used to the National Final School Exam (EGE). In the early 2000s most universities had their own competitions and trial exams.

In the past 11 years, the school competition movement has reached a national scale. The Ministry of Education and Sciences releases an annual list of school competitions after thoroughly considering organisers’ requests and supervises the competitions at every stage.

Let me remind you that the university community and the Russian Council for School Olympiads, established in 2007 at the initiative of and with support from the Russian Rectors’ Union, play a key role in the progress of the school Olympiad movement.

As Mr Sadovnichy said, every year, more than 2 million students participate in school Olympiads organised by Russian universities. We believe it is also important to discover talent among foreign nationals and Russians living abroad.

We have also proved the potential of professional competitions and project competitions in addition to conventional school subjects.

For example, national competitions in technology and environment, Rosatom’s mathematics competition, the Teacher of the Future contest, the Nanotechnology: A Breakthrough competition, competitions in computer science and cyber security, math and cryptography, national technology initiative and many others.

You may wonder if the existing school Olympiad community is big enough. Does it fully meet current objectives? The answer is the community does need further development, provided there is strict control and transparency.

We, university rectors, believe that those applicants who are admitted to universities as champions and prize winners of school Olympiads are the true stars. Even if they cannot excel in all subjects these students surely have real talent in their chosen fields. Even if one in every ten enrolled students is a school Olympiad champion or prize winner it will be a truly significant result for universities.

Colleagues, the school Olympiad movement has justified itself as a way to discover real talent. It is necessary to both expand the list of competitions and link them with priority areas of developing the economy.


Without denying the fact that we should be open to foreign expertise, we should not see our role as those who are trying to catch up and thinking whose ideas we should adopt now. We can also offer our rich experience of real cooperation between universities and schools and show the achievements of our best gymnasiums, from which future winners of global and international competitions enrol in universities each year.

It was said that the Moscow State University team won the programming contest. Colleagues, MIPT (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology), and ITMO (Saint Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics) placed in the top 10. The team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology came 11th in the contest. In addition, our ITMO University won gold in the last two world finals of the International Collegiate Programming Contest. There are many examples in maths and other subjects. Real education, like at School No. 239 or St Petersburg Lyceum No. 30, where we can find annual winners of international contests, is something we can be proud of and that is important for the entire county.

Introducing the idea that we can and should serve as an example in some areas of the global educational space to our mind is as important as a winning mindset in sports. We are more than competitive in programming and maths. I can name many areas. Or we can simply remember how Russian hackers were discussed in the international media. But this base is formed at school, and the idea of cooperating with universities for continuous education still has plenty of potential.

As a graduate of the Mathematics and Engineering Faculty, I can remember that, at our reunion 15 years later, we found out that almost half of our course was working, on a permanent or temporary basis, at leading foreign companies, and held key positions in resolving quite complicated and ambitious tasks.

By the way, Grigory Perelman, who proved the Poincaré conjecture and declined the Fields Medal, and I think some other prizes too, was one of us. In addition, schools in St Petersburg, Moscow and other Russian cities, after which we went to universities, reaffirm their reputation as fundamental school educators today.

We were saying that a teacher and a mentor, who plays a critical role in assessing a young person’s potential, is the main link in working with talented youth. The activities of such centres as Sirius or technoparks like Quantorium are an important element of this work. Such centres for talented youth should be created with the support of the university community in all the Russian regions in the near future.

The role of the industry’s “sergeants” – let me quote the brilliant essayist Anatoly Agranovsky here – begins with a real career-guidance mentor at school and with resource support provided to this education link, which, as the writer would put it, is paramount today.

Introducing something like a table of ranks for the mentors who brought up and trained the medallists of professional contests and competitions and encouraging them to advance in such rankings is feasible, and the expert university community can do it in the years to come.

There already are some cases when university gymnasiums have been created and proven their effectiveness. There are many training schools and colleges at universities, but we see the modern reserve in developing the school – college – university system. Lyceums and schools at several universities can serve as an example of success, such as the academic gymnasium at St Petersburg State University, Lobachevsky Lyceum at Kazan Federal University, the boarding school at Lomonosov Moscow State University, the research centre at Novosibirsk State University and the natural sciences lyceum at Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University.

The times call us to offer more opportunities for establishing university gymnasiums. This is a demand of continuous education and an extension of advanced studies in priority scientific areas. Of course, the university community should thoroughly examine this.

Special attention must be focused on a new form of cooperation between schools and universities ‒ preparatory courses for senior pupils taught by university lecturers. This helps us bring two education levels closer together and has great development potential.


The modern system for selecting and training management and school principals, that a strong teaching staff and school atmosphere largely depend on, is a serious task that can be implemented in cooperation with universities. We can use this improvement and retraining system for middle-school organisation management, as well as the corresponding personnel pool structure, as part of the extra-curriculum faculties. By the way, regarding the extra-curriculum faculties, those in our session have seriously discussed the necessary federal license for additional education organisations. Everyone agreed on that. The Russian Rectors Union is a remarkable expert community and we talked about this as a possible subject for later discussion in our session.

I would like to use the discussion of the mandatory subjects for the National Final School Exam (EGE) as an example. While the EGE in Russian and mathematics are mandatory for all school graduates, the exam in the history of Russia as well as some subjects in world history may be in the next mandatory exam. Again, we have already discussed the possible introduction of a mandatory exam in foreign language in the near future. The readiness to participate in the discussion and promote decision-making on such a level as actively as possible is an important element of cooperation between schools and universities.


The education system in Russia faces serious challenges, and we can propose solutions that will allow us to face them and stay ahead of the competition even under quickly changing conditions. I hope that, after the implementation of these solutions, our filmmakers who created such films like Legend No. 17, Going Vertical and Ice, which many pupils remember as an example of our athletes’ exceptional will, will want to shoot films about the winners of the international student Olympiads, such as the programming and physics competitions, or today’s mathematician Grigory Perelman, or other serious scientists as well as about our best schools and gymnasiums and their cooperation with universities.

In conclusion I would like to note that the development and expansion of the school Olympiad movement for possible talent selection, the establishment of gymnasiums at universities is a successful example of the continuous education system, resource support for teachers and mentors who trained winners of the competitions and Olympiads, the modern system of manager and school principal selection and training, creating the corresponding personnel pool, the expert community’s thorough discussion of the list of mandatory school final exams, the necessary licensing of extra-curriculum education and possible solutions are the tasks that can be resolved in the near future with cooperation between the universities community and Russian schools.

Vladimir Putin: Before we take a break, let me share some thoughts about what our colleagues have said.

I will start with what Mr Demidov concluded regarding promoting science, knowledge and scientific achievements. I have a somewhat personal story I would like to share with you because it has social importance and is also related to what was said today.

I met with our wonderful writer Daniil Granin shortly before his death, just two weeks before he passed. You probably remember that I presented him with an award here in St Petersburg, and came to meet him because he could hardly move. We had a conversation for about 30 minutes, then he asked me to stay some more and we had an interesting talk. One of the things he said was that the state paid very little attention to science and education, including the promotion of the scientific knowledge and achievements of those who are engaged in it. I said that we had special programmes for this, and the writer said “Programmes are good, but we need propaganda in a wide sense, especially skilful propaganda. It is crucial that you talk about it. We need these goals to be formulated at the highest level.”

So first of all, I am doing what he asked me to. And second, we will, of course, encourage cultural workers to pursue this too. Mr Demidov, you are absolutely right. This was the first thing I wanted to say.

Now there were some comments.

Mr Aleksandrov spoke about the need to create research and educational centres, such as the ones at Bauman Moscow State Technical University. I agree, we need to move in this direction. If we have already established 20 world class engineering centres, then my congratulations. Our other colleagues should work on this too. Of course, everyone has different capacities, but we should strive to implement this goal.

Now, to postgraduate studies.

You said places are not always available on research teams. But you know, it depends on you too, it depends on everybody here. How? Research subjects must be relevant, not just for the sake of defending a paper. Research subjects must be up to the first postgraduate level, with potential for extension and relevant for practical implementation or in big science.

But when the head of Bauman Technical University is saying this, I understand he mostly means…

Anatoly Aleksandrov: It is easier for us.

Vladimir Putin: Easier but it still should be proposed. You must have a vision of what’s next. If the only point of the research is writing and defending it to get a line on a CV there is no desire. It will be dragged out. Deadlines will be missed. And this is not even about deadlines but about future development and practical implementation.

Now, about scientific publications. I totally agree with you. Please submit your proposals on what the government should do to support it. I am sure it does not cost much money and we can definitely find it. But we need to understand the process, what extra measures are necessary for this to succeed. You are correct. Why is the percent of our publications low? There are few Russian papers published abroad but they are important. They get published because it is impossible not to publish them. Everybody wants to read them. Other papers get rejected because they have their own feast there and we are not invited to that feast of life. I agree we need to create our own [journals], let’s do this. Please work out your proposals.

Now, about cooperation between universities and defence industry companies. You said this is difficult to arrange. Why? I do not see it as difficult. On the contrary, I thought this cooperation was already in place.

Anatoly Aleksandrov: The work itself requires a high degree of responsibility and, experience shows, not everybody can do it. But we do need to attract more collaborators. We conducted a survey some time ago and already at that point, few universities could participate in this work while earlier, ten times more universities were involved. This is unfortunate.

Vladimir Putin: Alright. Honestly, I just did not think this was the case. If you see a problem, please specify the exact weak points and we will try to resolve it.

Frankly, I, on the contrary, had a positive experience and understanding of the situation. Here is one example. I think I already said this in public, in my Address, that we are creating state-of-the-art and unique, unprecedented arms systems. One of these systems was developed by a very young team. When I met them to present the state prize, I saw that they were really young. I asked them: “Where did you come from?” They said: “As soon as grants became available, our entire student group created a team.” Over seven years, they developed the world’s most powerful and advanced strike system. So, I have seen the examples. If something is required for you to continue and to enhance this work, please tell me.

Now I am not speaking in order, but nevertheless, we will, of course, support the school Olympiad movement, that goes without saying.

About our education system, including schools, not being any worse than others. Nobody says they are. You know, when people discuss something, they have different points of view. I think no one must be offended by this; we must look at this as adults. Everyone has the right to an opinion, and the most reasonable one should be used. In addition, of course, our education system should be open. We need to analyse where we lack something and what we can adopt from the best international practices. Of course, there is something to adopt. But this does not mean we have to cut everything we have achieved, as I have said many times. But, of course, we should always remain open and reasonable about our weak and strong points. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

Regarding our work with talented people and talented youth – yes, of course. Perhaps this is a trivial phrase, but I can’t help it. Of course, it is very important to work with talented young people, but it is more important to discover a talent, to raise it, to support and give an impetus.

Now, about what was said in the beginning.

The more I work the more I grab various interesting terms. Singularity is a good word. If I use it I will look like a decent person. If I am correct, it is the increasing indeterminacy factor, isn’t it? Right. You were also right to cite Confucius here: When it is obvious that a goal cannot be reached, don't adjust the goal, adjust the steps of action. Something like that, right? In this regard, I have just recalled another Chinese proverb. The Chinese are a wise and ancient people, and one of their proverbs says: You need to ascend higher in order to see further.

What would I like to say in this regard? Yes, there are more indeterminacy factors, but we must not be afraid of this, because if we want to see the final goal we need to rise to the point where we can see it.

Speaking about education and higher school. What I am about to say is only segments, but still. What should be taught and how? You know better, because you are specialists. I must rely on your opinion. But I would like to begin with what has been said here, with the question of what should be taught. Look, if 3D technology is the future, if future components in the real production sector will be created by spraying and not by cutting, with advanced methods and advanced technology, then we should think about how we can train a specialist who can do this. We have such expertise, but it is fragmented and almost goes unnoticed. We should give this some thought, this is the world’s future.

Of course, we must not use old teaching methods and standards or set goals that were relevant yesterday. If the future needs genome technology, digital technology, artificial intelligence or robotics, if the future needs the nature-like technologies you have mentioned here, we should think about how and why we should train a specialist who knows everything about this, who can do this and will implement this. We should just understand that other specialists are not needed today.

I said in my Address that we needed a breakthrough. If we do not make a breakthrough, essentially, we will fall behind, really fall behind, do you understand this? The consequences will be dire. For some time, we will be making use of what I spoke about in the second part of my Address; we will feel quite secure for two or three decades. But we – in any case, people like you – should think beyond the horizon, and train people exactly for what I have just described.

Of course, it is very important – I spoke about this in my opening remarks – not to stop at personnel training. We should act like Bauman Moscow State Technical University, we should establish these industrial clusters. Of course, in the areas that are natural for higher education. This is extremely important, and in this case, by the way, young people’s research would look different. If they see themselves that there are chances to apply their skills.

Creating the scientific and education clusters that you mentioned, certainly, should be done and it requires financing, as you said. Certainly, we must use available resources accurately and within the bounds of current law, and improve the efficiency of our spending even though we can spare money for this, actually. If we see that the ball is gathering momentum, we will allocate funding for it. However, there is more to it than just budget expenditure. You know, if we speak generally, on a national scale, if we are talking about the whole university education system, the state budget will never be large enough for all of it. So, what does it come down to? Mr Sadovnichy also mentioned this in passing. We need to attract funds from the regions and the private sector. This is necessary, otherwise our sights will be set lower.

You know, the situation is, sadly, still very limited here; it is difficult for us to work with our companies, including those that need high-tech trained employees. However, we need to do this. It is difficult to work with them because it is easier for them to buy everything from abroad, and that’s all there is to it. But, thank God, we are benefiting from the sanctions here. There is no chance to buy everything they need now, so they have to use their creativity and, as a matter of fact, it works, not only in agriculture but in high-tech industries as well.

However, this is not enough. These bumps and obstacles from outside cannot be the general impetus for development; we need to create internal processes. We need to show our large companies the potential of our science and the higher school. Science and the higher school, in turn, should not stagnate. Let me explain.

If someone has invented something important and interesting but difficult to implement, to put into practice, what happens then? I’ve repeatedly faced the following situation. Intelligent, remarkable people, good young researchers say: this must be done in this way, period, I don’t want to listen to your arguments. But manufacturers need to turn it to a slightly different angle. But no, they do not accept it, you see? “This is the best way. We know how it works, and push off!” But it may not work in practice and innovators, young or any age, should be taught to understand that if real life requires something, they need to be more flexible. It is indispensable that they make contact with the real sector of production.

I believe we have just heard a very interesting and important thing. I would also like to comment on this.

I have just spoken about start-ups and work with our industry and businesses. Do you know what is curious? I can share my observations. We can engage not only our business but also foreign businesses, especially from the countries with large financial resources and high interest in the innovations they do not have yet.

In this regard, we can also use specialists from these countries trained at your universities and at the same time work with these or neighbouring counties and, of course, create platforms and start-ups on our territory. And this is, of course, my task, and I should involve the Foreign Ministry and other agencies working on this as well as your capabilities; this is a separate area of international activities. This is what we should definitely think about; we have good prospects here.

It would also be useful for our partners, believe me, I can see that buying products is not enough for them; everyone is asking about transferring technology. But we have to develop some of it first, and here we have a good and promising field regarding the development of corresponding start-ups in Russia, but with financing from interested foreign states. There are many such resources.

In conclusion: of course, education is not just about being witty. I spoke about it in my Address and many times since. It is one of Russia’s priorities for the near future. We must not segment it. At the administrative level, of course, this includes school and university, and science ‒ academic, university and in life in general, practical science; it should be a symbiosis of all these areas. School should grow into university, and university should train specialists, postgraduates, candidates and doctors of sciences with a connection to real life and the real production sector. And everything should operate as one organism. Then we will definitely succeed.

Thank you very much. I wish you success!

Viktor Sadovnichy: Colleagues, let us once again thank our President for his wonderful speech.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. All the best and goodbye.

April 26, 2018, St Petersburg