Categorization Of “Transitive University” Phenomenon: Social And Cultural Basis

Abstract

The “Human capital” in modern world is seen as a most significant factor for the economic development, and in the end, it affects region’s quality of life. Permanent outflow of human capital causes the reduction of labour efficiency and inability to meet the requirements of the society and its agents. The diversity of new university models has brought to heterogeneity of global educational space, and increased a recruitment competition for the students and faculty, as well as the struggle for financial resources. Such environment incentivizes intensive educational, academic and technological migration inflows to universities with a good competitive advantage. With global challenges, university competitiveness is in the focal point of special analysis within the framework of existing university models. So far, phenomenon of transitive university as a chartered research, educational regional platform and a key point for student and teacher migration in the form of horizontal mobility, has hardly been on the research agenda as a subject of conceptualization and interpretation. Objective limitations of regional university resources - being in hierarchical relation to the central universities - are likely to be viewed as potential for university branding and positioning as a “transitive university” which is able to meet effectively both basic educational needs, and high quality research and education in regional priority areas, to provide foundation for innovations in university divisions and meet regional cultural needs. Furthermore, it should be able to integrate to research and academic clusters of inter-regional inter-university networks with distributed architecture.

Keywords: Universitytransitive universitystudent mobilityglobalization

Introduction

The modern reality, defined by social theorists as “the era of radicalized modernity” (Giddens, 2006), “fluid modernity” (Bauman, 2008), “society of reflexive modernization” (Urri, 2012), “risk society” (Beck, 2000), “knowledge society” (Toffler, 2004), creates both diverse opportunities and diverse risks. Dichotomy of global processes in the early 21st century reflects synchronism of diverse social trends that are also observed in higher education. In particular, globalization provides a wider access to higher education and creates more opportunities to study in world leading universities, however, this accessibility to a variety of educational programmes together with commercialization of educational resources makes education massive that significantly decreases its value. The contradiction between global, national and local levels is prominent in university practices, whereas most successful professor and students take an advantage of more favourable conditions and, in a number of cases, leave the region, which already provided them with “cultural” and “social” capital (Bourdieu, 2007).

Problem Statement

“Human capital” (Becker, 1975) in the modern world is seen as a most significant factor for the economic development, and in the end, it affects region’s quality of life. Permanent outflow of human capital causes the reduction of labour efficiency and inability to meet the requirements of the society and its agents. To fully understand the research controversy, the initial stage of the research aims to review theoretical and methodological foundation and to develop classification and conceptualization of the phenomenon of transitive university that, in its turn, allows to figure out further models of university resources and its diverse activities so as to meet global, national and regional challenges.

Obviously, modern global tends to be affected by a growing uncertainty in management decision-making. The global processes may be observed in the “knowledge to goods” transfer, and consequently, bring market relations to education (Boguslavskii & Neborskii, 2016). As a consequence of massive open higher education, Humboldt university model, which views the university as the center of generation and translation of required knowledge, should be transformed. The diversity of new university models has brought to heterogeneity of global educational space, and increased a recruitment competition for students and faculty as well as the struggle for financial resources. Such environment incentivizes intensive educational, academic and technological migration inflows to universities with good competitive advantage. With global challenges facing modern universities, university competitiveness is in the focal point of special analysis within framework of existing university models.

Russia’s integration into global educational process has, in particular, resulted in forming internal competitive educational space with the inter-university competition for the allocation of federal budget. The federal government has built up a university rating and classified most competitive universities into several categories such as Federal Universities, National Research Universities and Basic Universities that are significantly differentiated by rating criteria, by university priorities and by the degree of accessibility to federal budget resources respectively (Boguslavsky & Lelchitsky, 2017). A significant part of regional universities have turned out to be outside the advantages of these rating universities, which received extra financing from federal programmes on competitive basis. Regional universities were not engaged into federal extra-budget schemes for a variety of reasons, and therefore, got into even harder competitive conditions struggling to concentrate their administrative efforts on retaining university positions rather than university sustainable development. Predictably, it will make a dramatic effect on the majority of Russia’s regions if part of Russia’s higher education institutions are transformed into massive higher education entities, they may lose research networks, post graduate and master tracks, and will have to focus on teaching for bachelor applied programmes only. Looking broadly, in addition to internal university problems, related to qualified staff redundancies, regions will face challenges at the strategic level, that is, retaining social and economic position of the city and a region, i.e retaining production levels, labour efficiency, demography rates, quality of living standards and other strategically crucial factors.

Research Questions

The key issue of the research is underpinned by new forms of educational mobility and migration which is caused by the misbalance of territorial social and economic development of the Russian Federation. University applicants, university students, graduates and teachers actively move from regions to central institutions and bigger cities in the search of a better living and better labour conditions in economically more prosperous areas of the Russian Federation. Educational mobility tends to become a labour migration, encouraging well-qualified staff and strong applicants to leave regions and regional universities. Competition among applicants for the opportunity to study on budget in prestigious universities and three-tier educational model, that include bachelor-master-post-graduate programmes in succession, may be influential factors to motivate universities to develop diverse strategies of educational mobility, mainly, a university is used as a launch ground for further educational and academic mobility. This kind of university positioning leads to the situation when regional universities are seen as transitive universities like a temporary transit zones used to receive higher education and obtain social experience to encourage potential labour and educational mobility to big cities, top universities and economically prosperous regions. New mobility and migration flows tend to modify stable institutional structures and require new approaches in decision making, cooperation and networking of all regional key agencies (agents).

Purpose of the Study

The main goal of the research is, first, to identify social and cultural basis of categorizing “a transitive university” as a new phenomenon for foreign and Russian universities, and then, to specify sources for conceptualization that provides a foundation for integrated approach to problem-solving that create risks not only for the university, but for the region as a whole.

Research Methods

In order to achieve these research goals, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary analysis methods, comparative methods and interpretations were applied.

Findings

Over the coming decades we will witness significant changes in global and national developmental trends, connected, particularly, with the development of new knowledge-intensive technologies, and their social and economic effects in all areas of life, university education is no exclusion. Although diverse and multipolar modern world is engaged into a number of local and global contradictions that are hard to resolve, a majority of countries have a number of similar problems, which require in-depth scientific analysis and recommendations to managerial problem-solving. Problems of regional universities can be attributed to urgent problems. Because regional universities are not in the priority list for federal financing, they lose their newly recruited applicants, students, graduates and teachers, by this they pose a challenge for the cities, regional capitals and regions. Non-compensated migration engages not only applicants and graduates, but also their relatives. With continuing baby bust, the enhancement of university attractiveness is of long term strategic importance and is needed for tactics. Ageing of qualified staff, lack of scientific and research succession, shortage of young and motivated researchers, content reduction in academic areas will bring to the shortage of high professionals in regional universities. Furthermore, educational programmes and their contents directly depend on the qualification of the university faculty.

The review of international research literature demonstrates the cases of positive practices that helped solve the existing problems of regional universities at different levels. Unfortunately this experience is not sufficiently studied in Russia and therefore is not widely used. It is primarily connected with the fact that higher education strategies, federal grant schemes, and current research activities preferably aim to support competitive, well-established universities with the purpose of enhanancing the prestige of Russian higher education outside Russia. As a result, well-established, strong and highly-status universities become even stronger whereas the rest rapidly lose their positions, in some cases, creating a serious problems for cities and regions in short-term perspective.

However, it would be wrong to say that these problems are specific for national regions and universities only. Scientific foreign literature and statistical resources show the evidence of emerging new areas for the research, in particular, university student migration (Beine et al., 2014; Abbott et al., 2015; Dundee, 2016). Student migration flows are seen as endogenous, internally-generated models and exogenous models, connected with external preferences to receive higher education in prestigious foreign universities. The ratio of internal and external flows alternates and is dependable on a number of facts such as political, demographic, economic, linguistic factors, etc. Recent research findings allow predicting sharp drop in growth rates of global student mobility. According to the British Council forecast, the significant reduction of student mobility will take place as a result of large investment into national educational systems that will change models of student mobility (O’Malley, 2018).

These transformations are the result of the global engagement of national universities into rating competition and their orientation to rather unified rating criteria. In addition, the change in international landscape of student mobility may also be explained by high tuition fees, stricter visa regulations in a number of countries, difficulty in seeking part-time jobs, interethnic tension and conflicts that contradict the principles of multiculturalism. In terms of this, new research segment appears to be in the focal point of researchers. That is transient student mobility through everyday life (Pink et al., 2017). Here the research interest is focused on the theory of understanding and perceiving “transient everydayness” that has a limited timeline, e.g. a period of the study abroad. This aspect is left beyond the scope of institutional strategies and analysis.

The development of the theory of student migration emerged within the framework of the classical and neoclassical theory of equilibrium and the theory of migration transitions, preferably oriented to international migration, rather than being an independent discipline. Among recent publications, the “universal two-stage model” with an option of either an educational mobility or labour migration in globalizing world, looks rather attractive (Brezis, 2016). Yet the author underpins the assumption that the countries with low income population groups tend to face “brain drain” of skilled working population, who already received cheaper national higher education. For them, the value is to enhance their own living standards. Young people from well off backgrounds seek to acquire social capital in prestigious educational institutions, striving for the forthcoming educational mobility. Here we can identify another aspect of realization, that is – student mobility is closely related to high levels of education suggested by top universities. This competition implies permanent struggling for “talents” in student environment and among university faculty. Finally, E. Brezis comes to a conclusion that current issues of social mobility are strongly connected with international student movement.

Such limitation, however, can reduce opportunities to explain similar processes, which take place in internal university systems of national states. The report “The Great British Brain Drain: where graduates move and why” (Swinney & Williams, 2016) made by charity organization Research, Political Institute “Centre for Cities”, highlights only internal migration processes that can also feature national regions and big cities. The root of the “great British problem” is in the fact that Greater London accumulates more than 60% of the best university graduates from 24 Universities of Russel Group and Oxbridge. In this case, a total outflow of professionals from the region can create the risk of economic downturn. To mitigate its effect measures to retain highly professional staff and arrange compensatory counter streams are unlikely to be sufficient. The whole package of social and economic steps is needed in order to raise regional living standards, to create “knowledge centers of excellence” for highly-professional staff and to provide carrier opportunities and comfortable living.

The importance of setting the regional strategy of the university development is motivated by the need to reduce outflow student mobility, and what is more importantly, it is underpinned by the third university mission, that is, to establish networks and effectively communicate with local communities. Product-oriented innovations, uniqueness of local values, and project co-implementations should encourage the development of co-strategies of universities and regions. Strategic trajectory of university change in 21 and 22 centuries is viewed as to encourage regional development, regional innovations and technologies, rather than dissolve their regional university uniqueness in order to meet global unified university ratings (Brewer, 2018).

Yet modern Asian university systems tend to contribute to a decrease of student non-compensatory migration and mitigate risks for regional universities. In particular, the Japanese government has initiated a ten-year programme of financing to set up Centers of Excellence for Fundamental Research in regional universities (Kakuchi, 2017).

Conclusion

The phenomenon of transitive university as a chartered regional research and educational center, a launch ground for university students and faculty horizontal mobility has not yet been on the research agenda as a subject of study and interpretation. The term “transitive” university was mentioned by A.E. Volkov, ex-president of Skolkovo, Moscow Management School, within the context of “transitional”, “transformational” (Penskaya, 2013). The word collocations with the term of “transit” were used in the same meaning in the analytical survey on new educational grounds in Tatarstan, during the period of the university cluster restructuring (Kayumov, 2015). O.V. Sannikova and V. Yu. Khotinets used this terminology in their analysis of student mobility in Izhevsk (Sanninkova & Khotinets, 2017). The review of Scopus and Web of Science publications and foreign research literature identify that the terms of “transit” and “transitive” are literally not used in academic publications and by the academic community. As it may be suggested, this has resulted from the history and cultural uniqueness of the world regions, their diverse social development and fixed terminological preferences.

Objective limitations of regional university resources - being in hierarchical relation to the central universities - should be viewed as potential for university branding and positioning as a “transitive university” which is able to meet effectively both basic educational needs and high quality research and education in regional priority areas, to provide foundation for innovations in university divisions and meet regional cultural needs. Furthermore, it should be able to integrate to research and academic clusters of inter-regional inter-university networks with distributed architecture. This turns to be strategically crucial for industrial regions with their unique production capacities and special geographic, demographic and environmental factors.

Acknowledgements

The research has been accomplished under the auspices and with the financial support of Russia’s Foundation for Basic Research, #18-013-00447-а “Transitive University versus global, national and regional challenges”.

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2018.09.02.10

Online ISSN

2357-1330