Ilnar Siraev: ‘The trend of compulsory higher education is now a thing of the past’

Ilnar Siraev, the Commissioner for the Rights of Entrepreneurs in the Nizhnekamsk Municipal District, discusses whether higher education is necessary in the modern world in the author's column for Realnoe Vremya.

"90% of the Russian population do not work in their specialty”

“You are a human being only if you have a “paper” — this belief came to us from the Soviet past. But today, the trend of compulsory higher education is now a thing of the past.

I employ about 300 people, 30 of whom are senior staff. And I haven't been interested in who what kind of education has for a long time. I am interested in other qualities: how a person treats my company, his leadership qualities, professionalism. The importance of higher education as a mandatory criterion for selection and employment for me has long since come to naught. I am sure that in the next 2-3 years all large corporations will follow the same path.

The earlier you start earning money, the earlier you become a specialist. Based on this, I would recommend starting to look for yourself after the 9th grade: after going to college, you will have the opportunity to grow as a person faster, you will get a profession early that will bring you income. And if you have a desire to get a higher education — please, it's never too late, it's just that in this case you will also earn and gain experience while studying. In my opinion, it's much better than going to college at 18, spending 5 years there, and graduating at 23-24 and realising that it's not yours at all. A huge number of Russians do not work in the specialty received at the institute.

This is a global trend, higher education institutions abroad have not been teaching people for 5-6 years for a long time. In Europe, many institutes have switched to two-year training, preparing a person for a certain profession. In the USA, children go to colleges, where they get a specific specialty, and then simply upgrade their qualifications in special courses. I myself have recently got the profession of a marketer, having graduated from the English school at the university, having spent only 6 months on it. Instead of five years of training, I got a “base”, and then I began to put my knowledge into practice. And it works with many professions.

In my opinion, if we banned people from entering institutes who did not studied in at least a technical school, there would be more professionals in our country. The other day I was speaking at a school and, by tradition, I asked children about where they want to go after the 9th grade. One guy said: “I'm going to the 10th grade because I want to become a doctor.” I asked him if he now has at least an idea of what it means to be a doctor and treat people. Does he know that medicine is blood and sweat? I suggested that he go to medical school: he would study there for less than four years, and then he would end up in a real hospital. And if he is not sick of the experience he has gained, if he realises that this is really “his”, then he will have the opportunity to finish his studies at the university. And the more such doctors we have, the higher the quality of our medicine will be. The same applies to teachers and many other professions.

“I would advise institutes to create their own colleges so that they lead a student after the 9th grade”

Many of our institutes have operated on a commercial basis in recent years. There is no getting away from this, but it directly affects the quality of education: young people are given not knowledge, but just a pastime. I will give another example from life: girls who graduated from universities in the profession of “engineer-technologist of food products” come to my network of bakeries to get a job. I put them in the shop to bake bread, but they don't know anything. Moreover, they don't want to bake it: “Why has I studied at the institute for 5 years? To come and bake bread at 5 in the morning?" But how can I put them in a different position if other women have been working in it for several years? Yes, they have no higher education, but much more knowledge. And so it is in many professions.

An institute graduate will still have to go through a stage of at least two years of formation as a person and a professional. That is, only by the age of 26 he will get a chance to become what he wanted. While those who started their career growth after college, by this time they will already be his bosses, overtaking them by several years.

The only thing that higher education gives is the ability to communicate with the staff in a sociable way, as well as the skills of consistency and standardisation. It does not teach how to become a practitioner in your profession. I have three higher educations myself. I will not say that they are absolutely useless: higher education gave me communication skills, but it did not help me become a businessman or a marketing ace. I have a lot of experience in accounting, law and other fields, but not thanks to higher education, but thanks to additional courses.

I would advise institutes to create their own colleges so that they would lead a student after the 9th grade and introduce a specialty into him from the first year. This would significantly shorten the training period and would have a greater practical effect.

As an example, the Almetyevsk State Oil Institute, which took over the Nizhnekamsk Petrochemical College, can be cited. If students who entered there after the 9th grade want to grow further, then they have the opportunity to enroll in the Almetyevsk State Oil Institute without exams and with a 50% discount on tuition. That is, a young man goes to college, gets a profession as an operator of technological units, he is immediately told: “Go to work and, at the same time, you will receive higher education at a 50% discount for being a graduate of our college.”

I would bring all medicine to such a system. Medical colleges could cooperate with medical institutes: college graduates would automatically get into the institute without exams, because the initial base has already been laid in it, and the institute is sure that a high-quality student who has a desire to become a doctor comes to them.

Ilnar Siraev

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The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.