The panel session on “Education of the Future: Alternatives and Opportunities” took place within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Business Forum on 1 June.
The debates on prospects for the education system were initiated by the Consortium of Independent Schools, which includes, in addition to the MARCH School of Architecture, the British Higher School of Art and Design, the Moscow Film School and the Scream School of computer technology.
The universities are no longer a social lift and guarantee of successful career. The emergence of new alternative forms of education, the willingness of business to invest in its own education platforms, technological breakthroughs and the speedy appearance of new occupations calls the relevance of classical higher education in question.
The participants in the debates were to offer their opinion as to whether universities would adapt to the new pace of change or give way to alternative formats.
The debaters were Anastasia Butrym, director of the British Higher School of Art and Design; Sergey Solonin, Qiwi general director and a Consortium partner; Mats Nordlund, Innovation Advisory Partners director and ex-vice president of Research at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology; Innova HiEd director Lueny Morell; Svetlana Efremova, head of the Acting Programme, California State University; Dmitry Peskov, director of “Young Profesionals” Division, Agency for Strategic Initiatives; and Mikhail Kazinik, musician, art historian and author of the “School of the Future” concept. The Consortium director Ekaterina Cherkes-zade moderated the session.
“With this discussion we wanted to draw attention to the need to rethink the approaches to the education system as a whole. We are happy that at the forum we raised this important subject and involved leading Russian and foreign experts with diverse experiences in business and education, people who are drivers of change in the sector,” Ekaterina Cherkes-zade comments. “Education is a very conservative sphere all over the world, but change is inevitable. The next decade will see especially marked change in this sphere.”
Sergey Solonin said in his address that the gap between conventional higher education and business requirements was widening while the number graduates unfit for work kept growing the world over. According to the Russian State Statistics Committee, in Russia only 43% of all formally employed graduates were working in their line of training. Practice shows that schools that are closely associated with industry offer more practicable education. For example, about 85% of the Consortium school graduates hold jobs according to training.
Following the debate, the audience took the vote: 70% believed that higher education would hold its ground while 30% put their stakes on alternative forms. However, all the participants in the discussion agreed that change was inevitable. Clearly, higher education is only part of the general picture: alternatives already are a sizable market segment.