The need for a transformation of educational activity of the StrAU - Strategic Academic Units is based, primarily, on the new requirements of employers, connected with technological challenges, digitization, increasing amounts of information, and the need for its systematic analysis. The knowledge economy demands transfessional competencies, a research mindset, and innovative skills. Employers search for graduates who possess good leadership and teamwork skills and are able to conduct quality project work. These demands determine a list of educational technologies such as problem-based learning (PBL), project and teamwork as needed by modern employers, and e-learning (Moodle, MOOCs, distance modules) that are required to be implemented at the University 3.0.
Due to the rapid dynamics of the modern market, employers quickly formulate demands for educational results. That is why an individual educational pathway must be constantly modified. (In the fourth forthcoming Industrial Revolution, professions change faster than educational standards). For an adequate response, what is required is a modular structure of educational programmes and their interdisciplinarity and an expansion of the educational environment (including distance learning, further vocational education, campus courses, and in some cases intermediate vocational education to form “world skills”). Such additional abilities can, for example, allow a student to acquire competencies in a sphere of expert activity, informational accompaniment to the processes, communication with consumers, and consulting. A high level of acquiring basic knowledge is assumed and required for the major branches of training.
Only those universities that ensure high-quality education can be competitive on the educational services market, which is currently becoming the most prospective one. It necessitates constant independent evaluation of educational results, primarily in attractiveness to employers. In addition, such evaluation allows students themselves to evaluate their abilities objectively and correct their educational pathway. Internationalization and the digital openness of the educational process also allow us to evaluate the necessity of educational programmes and graduates in the international educational space.
Thus, to achieve the planned educational results, an adequate application of existing educational technologies and designing new ones are not sufficient. A transformation of the model of a university’s educational activity is required. That is why a full reengineering of educational processes connected with the StrAU is planned. The requirements for the StrAU graduate can be compared with requirements of elite education. Relevant educational results are to be achieved in Master’s or postgraduate programmes. At the same time, a classical university also helps to form an educational and cultural space in the region (the third role of a university), which corresponds to mass education and can be realized in Bachelor’s programmes. And, search for and development of talents that are required for effective work in the Master’s and postgraduate programmes are realized in Bachelor’s programmes. This poses one more challenge that faces the University – elite education vs. mass education.
Each of the StrAUs represents a scientific and educational centre (school or institute). The educational process is built as a continuous Master’s and postgraduate pathway of 5 to 6 years depending on the speciality. Traditionally-realized independent Master’s and postgraduate courses do not allow students to reach educational results planned earlier because of disengaged education politics and the impossibility of organizing an individual effective and time-sufficient educational path and moreover to correct it according to the requirements of a potential employer.
Master’s and PhD programmes are organized in two majors: innovative technologies and research. It is possible to add other majors, for example, pedagogical, when it is necessary because a new order has been formulated.
The formation of an academic agenda of the StrAU is carried out on the basis of an independent audit of the results of educational activity, employers’ needs, and market research. The major milestones of technological Master’s and PhD programmes are STI, high-tech and globally-oriented companies; research Master’s and PhD programmes include the consortium of Centres of Excellence and laboratories on the international level. Employers’ representatives participate in designing an educational programme, in the process of an independent evaluation of educational results, and in the organization of project learning.
Education begins with the basic and equilizing courses (1-2 semesters), which are required for the further solving interdisciplinary tasks. At the same time, students participate in oriented research or technological projects. Then, an independent evaluation of the level reached and the student’s potential is conducted. Depending on the results, the student’s educational pathway is formulated for the next 3 to 4 years (depending on the speciality).
Further education is built on the principle of independent interdisciplinary programmes, double-degree programmes, and exchange education. Programmes are constructed according to the module-network principle with participation of domestic and international partners. Independent auditing of educational programmes is conducted. The modular structure ensures a real choice and individualization of students’ educational pathways. Programmes are realized according to the PBL technology. They are rich with project work on employers’ topics – this is how a continuous research or innovative-entrepreneurial track is organized. For a subtle correction or adaptation of an educational pathway, a wide range of further vocational education and campus courses is organized.
In order to attract talented, motivated, and qualified students to the Master’s and PhD programme, each StrAU develops campus courses (selective courses) and a pool of project tasks for the students from the convenient Bachelor’s programmes and evaluates the results of project implementation. Bachelor’s projects are supervised by the Master’s and PhD programme students. Similar projects are proposed to high school students as well, and their implementation is supervised by Bachelor’s students.
Scientific research and work practice will be a significant part of the academic workload. As a rule, the internship sites are partner companies. Studying in the Master’s and PhD programme gives an opportunity to intern at leading domestic and international universities.
A requirement for the educational activity of the StrAUs is the presence of a wide range of Bachelor’s programmes at TSU. This ensures financing for research and practice work and allows the University to perform its social role – to provide basic education. At the same time, it is aimed at eliciting and developing talents for the further Master’s and other postgraduate education.
The Bachelor’s programme is broad, and built according to the principle of enlarged groups of professional fields (for example, economics, management, mathematics, and applied information science) and can embrace several existing faculties.
General enrollment is conducted for the Bachelor’s programmes (despite the number of training organizations involved). During the first 1-1/2 to 2 years (depending on the enlarged group of professional fields), basic courses of the enlarged group of professional fields are organized, after which students’ abilities are independently estimated, then students choose majors (3rd year). The same assessment follows the choice of a profile, according to which a student specializes in the 4th year of the Bachelor’s programme. The final academic assessment allows professors to define students’ abilities for their continuation in the Master’s and PhD programme or for entering the labor market with a competitive Bachelor’s degree.
Subtle setting of such an individual educational path (basic courses-speciality-profile and then entering the labor market or entering the Master’s and PhD programme) is ensured by an expanded educational environment – selective courses, campus courses, distance learning, and the commitment to an StrAU project, which are suggested in the Bachelor’s programme according to the specific StrAU. The interest of StrAUs in such project work is obvious. In addition, work is laid down in curriculums of all the Bachelor’s programmes and the number of Bachelor’s graduates continuing their education in an StrAU is one of the indicators of its managers’ work efficiency.
Similar projects are suggested to high school students under the supervision of Bachelor’s students in order to motivate and professionally direct talented pupils and to attract A-level students and qualified applicants.
Beginning with the 3rd year of the Bachelor’s programme, PBL becomes the major educational technology. Constructing and carrying out the individual educational pathway is implemented by means of tutors, and the efficiency of correcting it is ensured by the wide application of e-learning. As a result, the student has a portfolio of competencies and not just a qualification diploma.