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University transformation: Explaining policy-making and trends in higher education in Russia

Madeleine Block (Faculty of Sociology, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Tatiana Khvatova (Institute of Industrial Economics and Management, Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University, Saint Petersburg, Russia)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




Higher education (HE) institutions worldwide are experiencing fundamental changes, moving from the traditional Humboldt-type model towards an entrepreneurial model. In the context of these global trends, the Russian university landscape is being prepared to undertake a great transformation towards international standards in HE. The Russian State is currently funding a large-scale reform package for universities. The purpose of this paper is to examine trends and institutional reforms in the Russian HE system including the perspectives of universities, governments and business.


Currently, much attention is focussed on increasing the global competitiveness of Russian universities by making Russia’s HE system more integrated in international activities. The Programme “5-100-2020” launched in 2013 provides funds from the federal budget in order to push selected universities to increase their international rankings. A central aspect of the analysis is the policymaking process based on Kingdon’s theory of agenda setting. Furthermore, it is necessary to explore how the reforms of HE are implemented in practice, presented with the help of a single representative case study demonstrating how the Programme “5-100-2020” is implemented in a large Russian polytechnic university.


The present research shows the ways in which international trends influence educational and research environments in Russia, which provides a better understanding of the evolution of the university landscape in the light of growing marketisation, identifies important policy issues associated with becoming top international universities. The study of the timeline of reforms and reconstruction of the Russian HE system revealed an ambivalent picture which presents contradictions.

Research limitations/implications

The data were collected within one organisation only. This is a single representative case study. This means generalisation is only possible for similar organisations.

Practical implications

The study allows university managers to be more aware of the challenges and opportunities which arise with such organisational change.

Social implications

The paper draws attention to HE system reforms in Russia. University is a very important organisation for society with numerous stakeholders. The findings of the study are important for better understanding what is happening in education now.


The research adds value to policymaking process in the field of HE, and gives example of transformation process in Russian universities.



Block, M. and Khvatova, T. (2017), "University transformation: Explaining policy-making and trends in higher education in Russia", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 761-779.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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