The current economic situation in the world, as well as ongoing social changes, create special demands for education systems to cope with. Wide spreading of computing and information technologies has a significant impact on both educational process and the specific perception of new data by each individual. This leads to a shift from the “teacher-student knowledge transfer” education to the formation of practical working skills. Leading EU countries in the field of educational services have taken this factor into account long ago in both the regulation of their education system and curriculum development and have achieved significant progress on this path. Today the quality of EU state-of-the-art education attracts thousands of students from all over the world. Progressive economic development of the partner countries has put forward similar demands to changing the educational environment. This has occurred both due to reasons of international cooperation intensification and due to similar evolution of the domestic economic environment in the light of market economy development. This requires in-depth study of leading European educational systems and further systematic integration of such experience into specific educational culture of the partner countries.
The present development strategy of partner countries emphasizes the concentration of efforts on the areas of Teacher training and education science, which is also an objective of the project. The current development features of the educational environment in Russia and Kazakhstan consist of a combination of modern and traditional approaches to teaching, which is characteristic of the transition period in any industry. However, it is becoming obvious over the last years, that the development of business greatly outpaces that of the education system.
The project involves bringing the experience of leading European universities and Russian practice to a common denominator. This will lead to a more confident and hasty conversion of student training towards international standards in order to support the strategic development of the partner countries.
Certainly, besides the practical orientation of the education sector of the partner countries there are many other problems associated with the aforementioned transition period and requiring a deliberate decision. However this aspect specifically stands out due to increasing signs of the growing gap between the expectations of employers and competencies of graduates, as well as the continuing difficulty to establish a link between businesses and universities in partner countries.
On the one hand, deteriorating economic conditions are pushing companies to seek employees that can solve problems and operational issues at their level immediately after hiring. In other words, the requirements for practical knowledge of graduates and their understanding of the actual business operations are rapidly increasing. However, the current system of training with a more academic and heterogeneous approach to understanding the real needs of businesses does not meet the expectations of employers. This successively leads to unnecessary increase in salaries of specialists with experience, fanning inflation, increasing the cost of poaching experienced professionals within the industry, as well as placing limits to the career ceiling of graduates and generally reduces the opportunities for their employment. On the other hand, many businesses already understand the need to work with universities in order to adjust their future employment pipelines and developing new projects. But the absence of State level benchmark of how this cooperation should be done in Russia or other partner countries leads to a huge controversy in dealing with HEI, usually ending with dissapointment for both sides. Adjustment of the project problem would contribute to solution of these problems through chain reaction.
Being one of the largest leading university of Russia, PFUR has serious contacts with leading companies from different sectors of the economy on the one hand, and with a huge number of Russian and foreign universities on the other. Ongoing work with employers, including large European multinational companies like OBI and Nestle, provides information not only as a formal feedback about our graduates, but also about the general situation with the staff in different industries of both Russian and Kazakhstan economies. Over the past few years, this information started to take a more and more unidirectional character that allowed to form an understanding of the need for this project as a scientific study of the business-university cooperation improvement problem. On the other hand, participation in intercollegiate PFUR communications provided information about the features and diversity of educational institutions business cooperation methods that do not quite fit into the current development strategy of the partner countries. Finally, the consultation process for the preparation of the next version of the educational standard of the Ministry of Education has finally recognized the need to develop a new systematic approach to the cooperation practices in question.