UNIVERSITY IN TIME OF CHANGE: CONTRIBUTION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CITY, REGION, COUNTRY
Sergey Zuev, Rector, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences
Dmitry Afanasiev, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation
Vadim Volkov, Rector of the European University at Saint-Petersburg
Modern methods of assessing the socioeconomic effects of university practice rely on both direct and indirect indicators. The former usually include parameters such as employment, spending on scientific research and educational activities, tuition fees, etc.; indirect factors are very heterogeneous and have to do with expenditures/revenues of related and servicing activities, the formation of university clusters, the creation of new businesses, etc. The existing approaches differ significantly in assessing the scale and boundaries of "a university socioeconomic system" and, accordingly, use different groups of variables that affect the final conclusions. The level of uncertainty is even higher in the examination of systemic (catalytic) effects, such as the consequences of the penetration of knowledge and innovations in the economy and the social sphere, productivity growth due to the improvement of qualifications, the impact on the economic specialization of the region (city) where the university is present, etc. Despite the ongoing heated debate, a number of think tanks offer their own working assessment methodologies. At the same time, they all share a common weakness – it is hard to take into account not only direct economic, but also social - more broadly, cultural - effects, which as a rule, are longer-term in nature. In the broadest possible sense, we can talk about the historical mission of universities to generate new social and cultural norms, something society needs badly in times of turbulence. That is why issues such as knowledge management and development, academic leadership, network cooperation, reputation, openness of knowledge and influence on alumni networks are not just the inner mechanics of a university, but can be considered as a prototype for further conversion into wider social practices.
Issues for discussion:
• How can the social impact of universities be measured?
• How do universities respond to new challenges and how are their missions and strategies changing?
• Where are the boundaries of universities’ impact on human capital development, reducing inequalities in education and other social and economic policy challenges in the context of the global agenda?