A year ago Vladimir Putin declared that at least two Russian universities should jump to the cohort of the world’s leading educational institutions till the end of his tenure. Russian leader usually achieves his goals by concentrating overwhelming resources on his priorities. This time money can’t help Kremlin to buy breakthrough in science and technology.
According to Vice-President of New Economic School (NES) Konstantin Sonin, “the major problem limiting the development of NES is that we can’t invite strong professors to Moscow for any money”. NES, the only successful non-government educational establishment in modern Russia, offers best conditions in Europe, but loses one by one its best employees. Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, failed for the same reason, though Medvedev’s pet project was able to pay literally any money for talent.
SKOLKOVO Innovations Centre received not only money, but also best Kremlin’s managers. Victor Vekselberg, a billionaire, heads the hub, while Vladislav Surkov, one of the creators of the Putin’s political system, supervised the initiative in the government. Both men achieved remarkable results in their spheres before Skolkovo, but now they are in the defensive in the numerous scandals infused by the Investigation Committee.
Neither powerful Vekselberg and Surkov, nor independent Sonin can’t make miracles. They can’t turn Russia, and even small Skolkovo, into an attractive place to work. Though Moscow became a much better place for living in the last thirty years, it loses competition to other global cities. Moscow loses because of the absence of transparent rules, same to everybody. The shadow market of diplomas and scientific degrees includes even best Russian universities. The members of Russian Academy of Science, a privileged self-governed institution, tolerates plagiarism. World-level scientists, no matter of their origin, don’t want to invest their reputations into country which is not able to offer any attractive vision of future. The risks are too high.