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Startup from a school desk

11.01.2019
Source: Izvestia

In 2019, the Ministry of Education and Science plans to extend this practice to all educational institutions in the country.

In the coming years, graduates of all Russian universities will be able to submit their own startup project and not a graduation project for consideration by the attestation commission. We expect that this practice will start disseminating widely early this year, the Press Service of the Ministry of Education and Science told Izvestia. Graduates of some specialties in a number of universities can boast of already using this opportunity today. However, in general, this idea is too revolutionary for the domestic educational system and may lead to some difficulties in its implementation, say the experts interviewed by Izvestia.

Development and implementation of the program for training students and university professors in preparing start-ups as graduation thesis is stipulated by the Digital Economy Program, the Press Service of the Ministry of Education and Science explained. We will start efforts in this direction from this year, the department representatives clarified. No law needs to be changed to implement this program as the current assessment procedure enables to accept a start-up as a diploma, the ministry said.

More than 1,000 higher education institutions in Russia still accept only traditional graduation papers. However, the practice of submission a start-up instead of a graduation work is already in place in 71 domestic universities, the Ministry of Education and Science noted.

For example, the Department of Technological Entrepreneurship at MIPT (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) has made the development of a technology start-up an obligatory part of each graduation project, the Press Service of Russian Venture Company said which serves as the basis of the Department’s operations. This program prepares future analysts for venture capital funds, innovation specialists and technology entrepreneurs.

The Plekhanov Russian University of Economics also accepts a start-up as a graduation project. The successful projects of graduates include the Children’s University of Robotics, a wholesale store of vegetables and fruits, a children’s fantasy camp and an anti-cafe.

The idea of a “startup as a diploma” continues to be quite revolutionary for the Russian system of higher education, Pyotr Karasev, Vice-Rector for Teaching and Guiding at the Plekhanov RUE told Izvestia.

“A start-up is a potential business unit, and the graduate requires competences in the field of finance, taxes and accounting, marketing, not to mention a deep knowledge of the subject area of the invention itself to develop it. Therefore, it is necessary to engage graduates of various fields of study for start-up development”, he explained to Izvestia. “We can assume that in the near future we will talk about group defense of interdisciplinary qualification papers in a startup format”.

As for the time needed, the process of starting up a business goes beyond the timeframe allotted for a graduation project by the educational process schedule, Pyotr Karasev noted. Therefore, the educational program needs to be restructured to introduce a new practice, he believes.

The National Research University Higher School of Economics does not still practice “a start-up as a diploma,” the university’s press service said. And the graduates of the St. Petersburg State University will be offered already this academic year an opportunity to defend their business as a graduation paper, the university said.

The idea of the Ministry of Education and Science is interesting and deserves attention, however criteria for assessment of student projects need to be developed in order to implement this concept properly, says Sergey Komkov, President of the All-Russian Education Fund. This may be e.g. the level of organizational skills, professionalism and knowledge in a particular field. The expert noted that the practice of “a start-up as a graduation work” is not widespread in European universities and Russia can become an innovator in this field. Besides, the students would have more chances to work within their specialty when they start their own businesses.

Currently, only 37% of graduates of universities, colleges and technical schools work their jobs in the field of their major, as laid down in the RANEPA research work published last summer. Another 29% of young people said that their work is “related to their major,” while 27% are working in a completely different field.

Contributed by: Anna Ivushkina




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