To begin with, Mikhail Abdurakhmanovich - How does the Financial University cope with the peculiarities of this year - I mean a calendar year?
– As the Rector I have been working for almost 15 years in this position and I have to say that this year has been the most difficult. This, of course, is primarily due to the pandemic and the forced transition to online education. I need to say that our main challenge was not solving any technical issues, but to deal with a human factor. We’ve had to assist our professors to switch to a completely new online way of teaching in the shortest possible time. Certainly, students were better prepared for this type of education. Even though we are heading to take on younger teaching staff, still there are many professors and associates over 60 years old. And objectively they do not have enough IT knowledge or training.
In spring I received an emotional letter from one of our professors who has been working for many years at the university. She admitted that simply she was not able to run online lectures so she resigned. And she is one of the best University professors. The second reason was that many of them were not ready for such change morally. University professors are also humans, who have children and parents at home. They face daily problems. Some of them don’t have facilities to run online classes, others cannot start at 8.30 am, because they have to make breakfast for their own children, studying online.
Clearly, the way we’ve studied since March 16 was not distance learning, it was an educational process using an online approach.
The majority of students of the Financial University study offline, following the required pandemic safe instructions issued by Rospotrebnadzor state authorities.
Clarify please “Now we are used to saying - "universities have switched to distance learning."
– Distance learning is when lectures have been recorded in advance and methodological materials have been prepared. And a student, at a convenient time, goes to the University portal and studies. Also, at a convenient time , they can reach professors for consultancy and finally agree on time for an exam or test.
So, what we’ve done is a transition to online studying using various programs that provide the Internet approach. That was the professors' choice which program to use, but there were scheduled lectures and seminars similar to offline options.
Our students started up a volunteer club and visited elderly professors, set up computers and helped to work with the programs required for work under new circumstances. Technical problems were solved within a week. But still, I believe that studying should be run on an offline platform unless, of course, there is a force majeure, as it was at the end of the last academic year. Students have to have face-to-face communication with professors and their friends. University is not only a place for getting new knowledge, competencies and skills, it is also the place for relevant communication, personal development and of course making up friendships.
And what is the current situation at the University? How many groups study online?
– The situation is not easy. Today 52 groups practice distant learning. That means that someone from these groups turned out to be ill. This is approximately 8% of the total group number.
How many students study in total?
– About 21 thousand people study only in Moscow. But we have 27 more branches in Russia. So the total number is 47 thousand students.
Postgraduates, Master’s Degree students and evening students have been transferred to distant learning. According to the latest news there are 6 professors ill. Fortunately, this is not so many, we have 1,800 people in total in Moscow. The educational process is on, although, I won’t hide, almost every day I am approached by students to go on distant learning. It is clear that some students find it easier this way - they do not need to waste time commuting. I think, if all the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor are met, there is a hope that we will stay on studying on traditional platforms.
How did Admissions work this year? What is the difference to last year?
– Formally, the average undergraduates’ USE overall score this year is higher. The average score of applicants is 90.8 points, which is 2 points higher than in the last year.
The Best students ...
– Yes. This is considering that we have more than one and a half thousand state budget places only in Moscow. We have 313 Olympic participants among those who entered University this year.
But what is the match of their actual knowledge to the formal one? We used to run our own research early in September via overall testing...
I remember - in mathematics...
– ... and Foreign Language. Over the past few years, we have not done this hoping that the situation has improved, because of the significantly better Exams’ control in all regions of our country. And I must admit that it has happened because of Sergey Sergeevich Kravtsov and his team involvement.
(Kravtsov - until recently was the Head of Rospotrebnadzor, today he is the Minister of Education - Ed.)
What advice would you give to those who enter University next year?
– This year, until September 1, we hadn’t seen our future students, since all applicants applied online. Therefore, next week I run the traditional University Rector’s hour, during which everyone, including undergraduates, will be able to ask all their questions on any topic. This time I would like to pay more attention to undergraduates and ask them to participate more actively, be involved in discussions. I'll see what worries them the most. As for the rest - the session will reveal the point.
Get ready. And what tools to use for this is difficult to say. You can also get good online knowledge the same as getting a high USE score. And I would also recommend to participate in the Olympiads actively. Young people learn more by solving interesting problems, meeting new people. And this greatly helps them in personal development. Also competitive factors play a big role.
Are there any Olympiads on the basis of the Financial University?
– We have a lot of them. Including “Mission possible. Your calling is a financier!" It has been run for 12 years. We hold Olympiads in all areas, in English, in mathematics. On the university website www.fa.ru in the "Admissions" section there is detailed information about that.
What was the competition this year?
– For state budget places - 11 persons per place. For some faculties, we had to increase the number of commercial places, including the world economy, economy and business, public relations.
Smart guys have come, and you didn't plan to lose them?
– Yes. And for the new direction of "Public Relations" the guys with almost 300 points tried to enter on the commercial basis, the competition was 60 people per place. Why is there such a big competition at the Financial University? I see it as that even in these difficult times, most of our graduates have good labour market value straight after graduation.