PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good afternoon, everyone. I am very happy to see you.
I am not going to talk too much to begin with so that you have a chance to ask me any questions you may have and I also want to hear your thoughts about ways to develop education in general, and engineering education in particular.
Here is a point I want to make at the start. When I was a high school senior, and that was way back in 1982, ancient history, but at that time I was a rare species among my classmates because I was one of the few people who went on to study at a Humanities University for some unknown reason, at St Petersburg University. The vast majority of my peers in Leningrad at the time chose engineering schools. And I remember having to explain what it was the Law Department taught at all because funny as it sounds today, back then people didn’t know that. There was so little demand for lawyers that people didn’t even realize what they did and I had to explain that they could become judges, prosecutors or police officers – whereas practically all my friends from school became engineers.
A great deal of time has passed since then and a lot has changed in our country. In 2010, 217,000 graduates enrolled at engineering universities, which is a fairly good number. Thirty percent of universities are engineering schools, universities that train engineers, and in total there are 555 of them around the country.
You study at some of those universities, and I don’t just mean the Moscow Power Engineering Institute. There are teachers and students from other engineering schools here as well. I would really like to hear what you think about the current situation.
Some time ago I decided to pay special attention to engineers because it is a key profession for building a new economy and modernizing technology. Obviously, the nation needs engineers, as it is also clear that the 1990s were a difficult decade for engineers and for engineering education. We have some recent achievements, though, and you will probably be able to tell me which initiatives have succeeded and which have not.
As part of this effort I first traveled to Khakassia and met with engineers there. They have a lot of engineers there and they told me about their work. The situation in some places is better than in others. Later I met with their employers, the companies that commission engineering projects, and I found out where their priorities lie, what kind of professionals they want to see come out of universities, which professions do they have a demand for, what kind of training do they need and to what extent should they be involved in production processes. Tomorrow I will hold the final meeting on this issue, a meeting of the Commission on the Modernization and Technological Development of Russia’s Economy, and after that I will sign a list of instructions. Today I would very much like you to tell me absolutely honestly and frankly what you think we should do both to attract students to the engineering profession, and in general, to support engineering professionals in our country. I don’t need to tell you why we need this because you all know the answer to that. So now, I think it’s time for me to stop talking and pass on the word to you.