Russian education sector welcoming investors

Cooperation between Russia's higher education institutions and business is gaining momentum after years of downtime. More and more government and private institutions are looking to support Russia's higher education sector and contribute to its development.

Russia's education industry is getting increasingly attractive to investors, says Project 5-100. According to Deputy Chairwoman of Vnesheconombank (VEB) Svetlana Yachevskaya, business and government together can do much to increase the global competitiveness of Russian education. Currently, the bank in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education is carrying out a project to build college campuses aimed to transform the educational environment and provide additional student accommodation. Besides, VEB is supporting innovative financing mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships, social bonds and impact financing.

As for private investors, previously they were reluctant to put money into Russia's education sector because of restrictive regulations, a heavy government presence and a shortage of applicable business models, considers Investment Director of Russian Venture Company (RVC) Aleksey Basov. However, education has become a fast-growing industry and a key area of venture investment. It is showing rapid progress in digitalisation and the emergence of new technologies, thus stimulating broader demand for education services and encouraging people to spend more on education. RVC is currently setting up a 6,9-billion-ruble educational technology fund intended to promote the best solutions in the sector.

Companies can start training their future employees before they even graduate. Photo: NEC Corporation of America

Russian educational institutions are trying to increase cooperation with industry, confirms a spokesperson for Project 5-100, a state programme aimed at improving the position of the country's universities in international rankings. Both professional education and scientific research are being adapted to the needs of modern business. For example, companies can start training their future employees before they even graduate. Normally, it takes twelve months of training to make a young employee fully productive, says Aleksey Belyakov from Tomsk State University. College laboratories where students perform tasks and acquire relevant business skills during their studies may provide companies with a well-trained and loyal workforce. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Sberbank are running several joint projects, one of which has already helped set up a banking IT department.

Besides, industrial partners can use college-run facilities to conduct research into new products, says Rector of South Ural State University Aleksandr Shestakov. Investors in education and science can also benefit from subsidies actively promoted by the Russian government.

By Anna Litvina
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