HOW DOES ROSOBRNADZOR WORK: Analysis of Open Data on Supervisory Activities in the Sphere of Higher Education

Event date: 31.01.2018

European University at St. Petersburg has prepared an analytical report "How does Rosobrnadzor Work: Analysis of Open Data on Supervisory Activities in the Sphere of Higher Education" (download PDF in Russian). To what extent is the logic of actions of the supervisory agency consistent with the task of improving the quality of education and science? The monitoring of the effectiveness of educational activities at the Ministry of Education's institutions as well as the registry of Rosobrnadzor's inspections and experts were analyzed with the following findings:

◊ The number of higher education institutions is decreasing year by year. However, the number of supervisory activities is increasing. The existing picture calls into question the thesis about the gradual improvement of the Russian system of higher education and the diminishing need for intervention by the controlling bodies.

◊ Private universities are much more likely to be inspected. Effective performance indicators do not significantly reduce the likelihood of an inspection. In general, there is a lack of comprehensive measures to control the quality of higher education. The actual inspection is largely detached from the monitoring results and it is not always consistent with the performance indicators developed by the Ministry of Education.

◊ In view of the staff composition and the body of experts, participation of representatives of universities in the control and supervision process does not guarantee that mistakes in the choice of the purpose of inspections will be neutralized by qualitative analysis of the activities of institutions immediately during the inspection.

• A significant part of experts are representatives of curricular and instructional departments. Instead of lecturer experts, inspections are rather conducted by experts of "paperwork reality".

• The level of universities represented by these experts does not differ from the average Russian institutions of higher education in terms of the quality of teaching and research, it also lags far behind the leading universities. In other words, there are predominantly "C students" among those who are supposed to identify the "D students" of the system of higher education. Moreover, there are experts from universities that have been recognized ineffective in terms of key features (especially education).

• The procedure of selecting experts does not prevent the enlisting of specialists who have violated ethical norms in their professional activities. Among these experts there are authors of dissertations with sizeable borrowings from other people's texts. Indicators of the publication activity of such experts demonstrate that they are on average more prone to manipulating formal performance indicators of academic activity than most other lecturers.

◊ Inspections are increasingly being carried out remotely, in the form of working with documents without visiting the university. The inspectors focus on minor violations mainly related to documenting the work of the institution. Such an approach does not allow revealing actual violations of the educational process.

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