Individual Educational Trajectories in Russian Universities

10 August 2020

Educational personalization is now becoming acute trend of today’s higher education. As a result, there is a need to figure an individual educational trajectory (IET) with the active participation of the student. This approach to training allows not only to get the main specialty, but also to develop various competences in other areas, which might even sometimes be opposite to the main track.

"In the 21st century, we are entering fundamentally different model of education. It should become more individual, not in order to find talents, but in order to reveal the talent in everyone. We need to make higher education individual, that is, to work with everyone in a special way. Medicine is already personalized, and we require an individual approach in everything. Why should education be different?" — proclamed the Minister of Science and Higher education of the Russian Federation Valery Falkov.

Freedom to choose subjects develops awareness, the ability to navigate infinite information flow and analyze what knowledge is relevant here and now, and adapt to changes in the profession that may occur during training. In the digital age, all these qualities are particularly valued by employers. University graduates are expected to be flexible and able to quickly integrate into team projects.

That is how Russian universities organize individual educational tracks for their students.

Aircraft paths

While creating individual educational trajectories, the Moscow Aviation Institute offers purposeful students broad opportunities to develop not only basic engineering skills, but also organizational and managerial competencies, Soft Skills, and helps them learn and master foreign languages. IETs for MAI students are available in four areas: researcher, specialist, manager, entrepreneur. As soon as the students choose the direction, they are offered standard basic trajectories, which are refined and adjusted according to their individual characteristics, capabilities and wishes.

With his mentor (tutor), the student determines a list of additional courses, practices, including in the centers of competence of MAI, disciplines for in-depth independent study, selects internships, academic mobility programs at leading universities in Europe and Asia, and much more. Very soon, the Institute plans to launch system for creating individual educational trajectories based on the digital footprint of students, which will make the process of personalization of education even more effective.

The X-people

In 2019, the Don State Technical University launched a project to train engineers with a unique set of competencies named the Institute of advanced technologies «The X-School». One of the key areas of the new educational platform was «smart» agriculture experts training. The concept of «The X-School» is focused on training first-class engineers with a unique set of knowledge and skills that can creatively solve complex technological problems.

The educational process at the Institute is based on the project-based learning model. Students study a set of mandatory subjects and have a wide selection of elective modules. Mentors-practitioners who work with teams in order to solve technological problems are involved as teachers.

"Universities should consider students as young employees in order to improve the quality of higher education. The Institute of advanced technologies is an excellent example of the transformation of education, which is based on modern trends. The program „The X-School“ is aimed at building individual educational trajectories, training specialists who are unique in their set of competencies," said DSTU rector Besarion Meskhi.


All participants of the "The X-School" are required to study English well in order to interact with leading practitioners from around the globe. Combined with frontier knowledge, this will ensure their high competitiveness in the labor market.

Students are selected to participate in the program during project analysis sessions. According to the introductory proposals, the applicants developed technological projects that they presented to the expert Commission. In addition, the jury members evaluated their professional skills, such as communication and teamwork. Out of 500 applicants, 100 people were enrolled in the "The X-School".

The numbers are growing

Individual educational trajectory at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology allows students to choose their own subjects, build their own program, and make independent decisions in the course of training.

"Of course, first-year students do not yet fully understand how to build their program — they are helped by the recommendations of teachers and research supervisors. The older the student gets, the higher their awareness and desire grow. So, in 2019, less than 1% students of the first year bachelor degree used the opportunity to study on an individual education plan, and by the 4th year the number increased to 40%. In the master’s program, about 30% of students study under an individual program» told Irina Garaishina, the Head of the Educational Department.

At MIPT, there are special basic courses that correspond to the specialty, they remain unchanged. The choice of elective subjects is made by the student in the personal account, which is very convenient. In addition, under the guidance of research supervisor, a student can add those disciplines that will be useful to them when performing a research project to their curriculum.

Every year, the number of students enrolled in individual curricula is growing. For example, in 2014, there were about 4.4%. In 2019, this figure increased to 17.6%. The University’s mandatory curriculum is also changing in response to the latest challenges in science and technology and the demands of the labor market. For example, there is a strong demand for numerical methods of information processing — machine learning and big data. These courses are becoming more and more popular among students, and for many MIPT schools, these disciplines are already embedded in the mandatory curriculum.

Physicists have the opportunity to interact with adjacent departments. For example, students of academic departments have a chance to participate in the project of the industrial Department together with their scientific supervisors, and so on. Already in the third year, and sometimes in the first two, young people participate in the implementation of practical cases in the laboratories of the largest corporations in the IT industry-Yandex, ABBYY, 1C, Sberbank and others.

Networking

Studying the educational programs in the North Caucasus Federal University presupposes the formation of IET via selecting electives from a single Bank of 210 disciplines. Students have the opportunity to master online educational programs using the resources of partner organizations. Thus, the University implements 40 network educational programs with Russian universities and five programs with the possibility of obtaining two degrees with leading international universities (Technical University of Dresden, University of Rome La Sapienza), where students choose the disciplines implemented at the partner University. Since 2020, NCFU is recruiting 12 new educational programs with the possibility of obtaining two diplomas with leading universities in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Students participate in academic mobility programs actively. In two years, 88 students have completed training at 25 foreign universities.


Educational foresight

At the Polytechnic University (Saint Petersburg), the individualization is implemented via usage of a special block of the program — the mobility module (minor), which consists of several related disciplines aimed at developing additional competencies from non-core subject areas. The mobility module is carried out via mixed learning technology.

"Educational foresight" is a program that provides education using online courses of the Polytechnic and other universities, including foreign, in parallel. The courses are aimed at obtaining additional mini-specialization not related to the main training program.

"It is worth mentioning that more than 60% of the entire educational program is variable, the rest is mandatory. In the structure of the bachelor’s and specialist’s programs, there is a so-called „Core of the Polytechnic“ — this is an example of mandatory for all disciplines. In addition, all areas of training implemented at the Polytechnic are divided into 5 polygroups (physical and mathematical, information and computer, engineering and technology, trade and economic, and humanitarian). For them, there is a „core of the Polygroup“, in which, taking into account the specifics of the grouped areas, fundamental Sciences, higher mathematics, physics and many others are taught in different volumes and levels of complexity. This structure makes it much easier for students to change educational programs within a single Polygon, if necessary" explained Vice-rector for educational activities Elena Razinkina.


Students who have successfully combined the main training program with an additional one receive documents on advanced training or professional retraining.

One of the most attractive options for students to expand their individual learning path is to study on additional programs granted by the industrial partners of the University. Employers select students on a competitive basis and offer free programs with the issuance of appropriate documents and the possibility of further employment. Examples are the joint project of Polytech with Toyota Motor company called «Time to grow», the project «From theory to practice» with the leading Russian center for design management NIPIGAZ, and many others.

IET expert platform

The Tyumen state University has been now implementing individual educational trajectories for the fifth year already. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the Project Management course was introduced to the program of students studying in IET. In February-June, its students were sophomores of the Institute of social and humanitarian Sciences, the Institute of chemistry and the Institute of pedagogy and psychology.

Project management is a universal discipline that provides a set of general principles and method applicable at any field of activity. The content of the entire course is built around project management tools that students might use in various areas: in their personal lives, social projects, internships and practices, and at work. The course is based on the project experience of the course creators, the standards of the set of knowledge on project management (PMBOK), and Agile — flexible approaches to creating software.

The school of advanced studies at TSU is currently enrolling for the master’s program "Experimental higher education" (Master of Arts in Experimental Higher Education, MA X-HE). The University’s school of advanced studies (SAS) offers a unique integration of free education and an interdisciplinary research center. SAS is one of the most daring greenfields in Russian higher education.

In addition, TSU completes the preparation of an online course for universities, which will present ready-made solutions for smooth entry into IOT.

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