Two Russian Universities Get Degree Awarding Powers

11 September 2019
Two Russian Universities Get Degree Awarding Powers

Sechenov University and Alfyorov University can henceforth confer academic degrees.

The Russian government has added Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and Alfyorov Saint Petersburg National Research Academic University of the Russian Academy of Sciences to the list of the organisations which have the authority to award academic degrees such as Candidate of Science and Doctor of Science without the approval of the State Commisison for Academic Degrees and Titles (VAK). It is a landmark for the universities as the list only highlights the best higher education centres capable of training highly skilled specialists. The opportunity to award degrees without VAK’s approval has several advantages. First, universities can set their own requirements for candidates’ papers. As a rule the criteria are demanding as the university stakes its reputation on its graduates. Consequently, it raises the research work level. Secondly, it streamlines the thesis defence procedure. Students find it easier to defend interdisciplinary theses because the VAK procedure requires a separate review per each discipline which is not convenient.

To be listed, a university has to meet several requirements, for example the number of PhD, guiding assistantship and medical residency situdents has to make up at least 5 percent of the student body. Also, VAK assesses the number of publications in science journals entered into the Scopus and Web Science international databases, as well as their financial costs.

The list was first published in 2017; initially it included four research organisations and 19 universities such as Kazan Federal University, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Higher School of Economics, National University of Science and Technology MISIS, National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, Novosibirsk State University, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, ITMO University, Ural Federal University etc. In 2018, the government gave degree awarding powers to National Research Tomsk State University and Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. The list currently comprises 23 higher education centres including Sechenov University and Afyorov University. Another two Russian universities - Lomonosov Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University - have this authority on the strength of a federal law.

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