Professionalismas The Unchangeable Purposeofhighereducation


The purpose of the article is to consider the aim and social functions of higher professional education and to argue that professional competence of a higher level can be obtained if only higher education continues to be quite a certain level in the system of education as a whole and will not be identified with elementary levels of enlightenment or practical skills. In order to argue that higher education is neither a privilege or destiny of the few, nor the sum of elementary knowledge and skills such research questions are considered as: the differences between higher education and enlightenment; the special purpose of higher humanitarian education and its functions in the development of the spiritual culture of university′s graduates; the type of identity formation of which is included in the scope of social responsibility of higher education. It is asserted by the author that higher education is connected with the knowledge of such a level of complexity that requires from a student considerable force, constraints, and persistence to cope with. Higher humanitarian education is associated with significant changes in the level of understanding and in the ability to analyze the information, in the degree of awareness and critical perception of reality. Scientific knowledge, on which formation of specialist with higher education is based, carries in itself universality and intersubjectivity, which are going beyond any social role or type of socio-cultural identity.

Keywords: Higher educationhumanitarian educationmetaidentity Professionalism


Professional mobility of the population is the essential feature of a high-tech and sustainable economy. This means that in the coming years an increasing number of people forcibly or voluntarily will be changing the specialty, which they received at the university. Yet the idea of inevitable changes as of working places as of professions widely spread in modern ideology of higher education and in public consciousness leads to the effect that not only students, but the universities themselves increasingly focus on preparing graduates who are not initially seeking to work in the specialty according to the diploma of higher education. This trend only increases an uncertainty of the term “higher education” as it is, since higher education, say, in pedagogy does not make the holder of the diploma of pedagogical university a specialist of higher qualification in the field of trade or navigation, and vise verse: the holders of diplomas of any other kind of higher education do not become qualified teachers.

The notorious “successfulness” of graduates, proposed to the system of higher education as a goal, in fact, based on the criterion that destroys the very meaning of higher professional education. Since, if “success” means a “self-realization of personality”, a university is neither the only, nor even the primary means of achieving this objective. As the subject of personal culture university′s graduate can be successful in various forms of social activity. But for the universities themselves “successfulness” of their activity cannot be measured by the level of personal success of its graduates carrying out professional activity incompatible with their academic specialty and qualification confirmed by the diploma. So, if some graduate of pedagogical university does not work in accordance with the specialty, then, whatever the causes of this situation would be, she/he did not become a “successful” teacher; and the graduates of technical universities devoting their lives to the art museum, whatever their achievements in this field may be, are the fiasco of their alma mater since they did not become “successful” engineers or scientists.

The real level of education of the majority of young people entering universities nowadays is not sufficient for mastering a profession based on a study of many scientific concepts and methods. It means, that higher education gradually, but steadily are entrusted with the tasks of not only preparation of a narrow circle of specialists of higher qualification, but also of socialization (socio-cultural adaptation) of as many representatives of the young generation as possible.

The fundamental social significance of the both tasks is beyond any doubt, but the time has come to realize that their simultaneous accomplishment in the framework of classical higher educational system is impossible. The motivation to gain specialized forms of knowledge, which higher education relies on, is based on the more developed spiritual needs than the basic need to know the world, which is quite successfully satisfied by modern mass media not only all together but even each of them separately.

Problem Statement

The fact that many practitioners do not have a special education illustrates only that there are many professions and jobs in demand on the labor market, mastering of which requires no special and especially – no higher education. But this fact cannot be used to justify the false notion that a university ought to give not knowledge, but practical skills, or that a teacher has ceased to be a translator of knowledge. The system of universities can offer a wide range of educational services, but the fact that these services are offered by institutions of higher education does not transform any services in the process of getting just “higher” education. The main problem which ought to be resolved in order to put some reasonable sense in the multilevel system of education is to mark the real boundaries of different levels and to determine the place of higher education in its classical, university′s sense in the modern educational process.

Research Questions

To determine the place of higher education in the modern educational process we ought to consider such questions as: the differences between higher education and enlightenment; the special purpose of higher humanitarian education and its functions in the development of the spiritual culture of university′s graduates; the type of identity formation of which is included in the scope of social responsibility of higher education.

Purpose of the Study

The aim of the study is to consider social functions of higher professional education and to argue that professional competence of a higher level can be obtained if only higher education continues to be quite a certain and really “higher” level in the system of education as a whole and will not be identified with elementary levels of enlightenment or practical skills.

Research Methods

The research is based on the methods of content and logical analysis, interpretation, comparison, generalization and theoretical deduction.


Professional competence of a higher level

The system of higher education was designed to transmit scientific knowledge in the first place, and only through scientific knowledge – any other elements of social and cultural experience. This is the principal difference of the higher education as a social institution from all the others. A specialist with higher professional education operates not things, but concepts, even when organizes a process of production as an engineer, or a job of employees – as a manager. Professional competence of a specialist with higher education makes her/him able to understand and formulate such problems of professional activity, solution of which could be found on the basis of scientific knowledge only. He/she is the one who knows , first of all, how something may be done, and in the second place – knows how to apply received knowledge in practice.

Attending university's courses and collecting diplomas and certificates in various fields of knowledge and skills make a person wide reading and enlightened, but do not turn her/him into a specialist with higher professional education. Higher education is connected with the knowledge of such a level of complexitythat requires from a student considerable force, constraints, and persistence to cope with. Higher education of any kind is associated with significant changes in a level of understanding and of ability to analyze information, in a degree of awareness and critical perception of reality. Such changes require from a person an intensive mental work and are not given to anyone without efforts. Higher education is neither a privilege or destiny of the few, nor the sum of elementary knowledge and skills. So, a reasonable person can bear this process only if she/he is motivated for knowledge as not just means of orientation in the world, but as an important way of self-realization, self-development and self-improvement. Therefore, aiming at getting higher education for “common development” is a self-delusion or a purpose which is not justified efforts spent on its achievement.

6.2. Special purpose of higher humanitarian education

Erudition, a vast amount of knowledge, for all their undeniable significance for personal development, cannot be identified with the humanitarian education or with the high spiritual culture. A person educated in humanities is not a walking encyclopedia, which is in a state of constant citation of classics and references to someone's authoritative opinion, and therefore – is unable to be in dialogue with oneself or with another person. The very essence of humanitarian education is such that neither level of technical equipment or availability of information, nor skills in pronunciation of texts on public are sufficient for its implementation. Development and improvement of analytical abilities of the mind is not directly associated with the availability of technical means of training, and the increase of ordinary enlightenment through Internet does not favor to the enforcement of the complex processes of thought-activity (Zhukov, 2013; Aladyshkin, Kulik, Michurin, & Anosova, 2017; Gashkova, Berezovskaya, & Shipunova, 2017).

A special purpose of higher humanitarian education is formation of graduates with such set of skills that allows them not only to acquire a spiritual content of different products of professional forms of spiritual activity, but to develop their own spiritual culture also. The achievement of this goal is possible only on the basis of developed humanitarian cognition, which gives knowledge of the value content of human life and human cultural products. The specificity of this type of knowledge is that it is based on the interpretation of material carriers and forms of expression of ideal meanings and creates a new meaning as a condition of understanding the ideal content of cultural product or text which is interpreted.

Humanitarians teach to understand, interpret and analyze the spiritual content of cultural works, since they not only create ideal products themselves, but know the spiritual heritage and own the means and ways of understanding its ideal meanings. Specialists of different branches of humanitarian knowledge reveal and study the meanings of existing cultural products, make the ideal content of these products available for personal consumption and facilitate transfer of revealed meanings to the other subjects of culture.

To be a person highly educated in humanities means: to know languages of different spheres of culture and to have skills to navigate and move free in a space of cultural diversity; to have a special quality of reflexivity in relation to the world and one′s own life; to have a developed ability to operate such ideal objects as thoughts, ideas, concepts; to have an ability to think independently, to interpret works of professional spiritual production, and to extract ideal meanings of different products of culture; to be able to conduct a dialogue, express oneself in the word and listen to the word, understand and articulate thoughts, argue one′s opinion and build reasoning; to understand the value content of culture (Rickert, 1998; Murphey & Berg, 1988; Rokeach, 2000; Lacey, 1999; Smith, 1988) and one′s own professional activity (Chernyakova, 2013; Sokolova, Pylkin, Safonova, & Stroganova, 2017).

Understanding of the value content of professional activity is important, since any process of adaptation to the new social conditions requires from professionals the ability to resist circumstances that prevent the implementation of their goals; a desire to defend their values and ideals; a confidence in theirs mission in life (Musina, 2016). And despite the inexhaustible resources for adaptation potentially contained in professional's ability to creative activity, a possibility of using these resources is due to a real state of development of the one of them – a value resource (Hofstede, 2001; Smith, Peterson, & Schwartz, 2002; Vyzhletsov, 2017; Yachin, 2017). Only this resource is beyond a direct impact of environmental factors and cannot be destroyed even by a deprivation superior to human physical strength.

Professionalism as a type of identity

All social institutions, including higher education, generate social identity of a restricted type as they turn social being of the human species in a representative of a concrete social community – family, ethnic, class, or professional groups, etc. and require from a person to assimilate the main features and patterns of behavior of different, but by no means universal subjects of culture. So the questions arise: formation of what type of identity is included into the sphere of social responsibility of higher education? By whom, in the end, ought university's graduates to realize themselves, samples and standards of what culture ought they to interiorize in the learning process?

Higher education cannot take under its control formation of students as the subjects of ethnic culture, not only because a professional role as such is devoid of the ethnic specificity, but also because formation of any person as a subject of some ethnic culture begins with the birth and goes through the basic stages of development outside and without the system of higher education.

Higher professional education enables its holders to make the choice of the type of culture which they consciously and reasonably identify themselves with. But higher education itself is responsible for the formation of a person as a subject of professional culture and performer of the role of a citizen of a particular state. The self-identification of a university's graduate as a professional and as a citizen does not prevent his/her self-identification as a representative of this or that ethnic group, but set the limits to the autonomy of ethnic identity, since a content of the professional role and the role of a citizen of a multinational state extends beyond the self-identification of a person as a subject of some ethnic culture. Yet a conflict between norms and samples of different cultures can lead to contradictions in the self-consciousness of a person identifying her/himself as a representative of a particular ethnic group, a professional and a citizen at the same time.

The formation of a metaidentity is the process significantly more complex than the cultivation of any other kind of identity. Scientific knowledge as the basis of higher education carries in itself universality and intersubjectivity, which are going beyond any social role or type of cultural identity. The genuine assimilation of scientific and technical achievements requires from subjects of different cultures at least partial self-identification as subjects of universal human culture. It is just because of this that professionals may recognize neither economic nor moral obligations to the state citizens of which they are or to the ethnic group which they identify themselves with.

Higher education is responsible for the formation of a metaidentity as professional and civic identity of a higher level that creates a value-content space for dialogue between multiple autonomous identities of any other, including ethnic, type. In the end, the higher education develops representatives of any ethnic group or state into specialists with such a level of professional knowledge, abilities and skills that enables them to carry out their professional activities anywhere in the world and to find a common language with representatives of any other ethnic group.


Since different professions require different levels of fundamental scientific knowledge and different levels of involvement of a specialist in the processes of organization and management of production, the allocation of different levels (stages) in the whole system of education is an objective necessity. Would these stages be organized as autonomous institutions (secondary and higher) or as sublevels of university's “multilevel system of education” – the essence does not change: all students in the system of education get a profession that gives them an opportunity to participate in the social division of labor, but not all professions require just the higher education. Many jobs existing in the modern system of social division of labor requires skills acquired by man in the process of practice exclusively.

Higher professional education is neither a prerogative of the elite nor a combination of basic knowledge and skills. Diploma of higher education certifies not the identity, citizenship or the rights and freedoms of a person, but solely the level of qualification in a specialty requiring a fundamental scientific training. Professional education unlike enlightenment provides people with the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the substitution of certain places in the social division of labor. So, the higher education should not seek “to enter into every home”, like electricity in the recent past or the Internet in the near future. In the early stages of professional orientation it is necessary to explain that there are many occupations that are in demand on the labor market and vital to society, mastering of which does not require university education, but allows individuals to realize their abilities fully.

Higher humanitarian education becomes an important factor of development of spiritual culture of specialists precisely because it is not limited to erudition and acquaintance with the masterpieces of art, but is expressed in the development of analytical, critical and reflective qualities of consciousness allowing person to realize different value-content activities and to achieve mutual understanding with other people.

The content of professionalism is changeable, but the purpose of professional education – unchanged: the formation of the experts perceiving their role as the primary way to self-realization and performing their civic virtues. The percentage of true professionals is, obviously, not great, but they embody in their lives the fundamental paradigm of professionalism as a creative activity of man.


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Chernyakova, N. (2018). Professionalismas The Unchangeable Purposeofhighereducation. In V. Chernyavskaya, & H. Kuße (Eds.), Professional Сulture of the Specialist of the Future, vol 51. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 205-211). Future Academy.