Fursenko Blasts Educational Institutions

ria-novostiMedvedev shaking hands with Kiriyenko on Thursday. Fursenko, back, and institute chief Mikhail Strikhanov look on.
Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko said Thursday that as many as 80 percent of the country's higher education institutions should not continue functioning in their current capacities, adding new urgency to the government's drive to boost scientific and technological innovation.

The comments came after President Dmitry Medvedev called for the creation of a network of scientific research centers to coordinate among the country's educational institutions, including a number of new federal universities.

"There are presently about 1,000 higher education institutions in Russia," Fursenko said, Interfax reported. "Only about 150 of these are competitive."

Fursenko said some of the underperforming institutions could be transformed into universities' affiliates or midlevel professional schools. Others, he said, could simply cease to exist.

Medvedev, who spent the day meeting academics and nuclear scientists at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, said new federal universities would be established in Rostov-on-Don and the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Another is planned for the Far East, he said.

"We need to make a final decision about a platform for organizing federal universities in other [federal] districts," Medvedev said, Interfax reported.

The national scientific research centers are a cornerstone of the national project on education, which Medvedev oversaw as first deputy prime minister. One of Medvedev's first presidential decrees -- signed May 7, immediately after his inauguration -- ordered the creation of a network of federal universities.

The network could also incorporate well-established "traditional" universities, such as Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University, Medvedev said at Thursday's meeting, also attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, and Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko.