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Country ID Card

Location of the Russian Federation

The education system in Russia has deep traditions that have been forming for several centuries. The Constitution of the Russian Federation (RF) enables all Russian citizens to receive education, regardless of their nationality, social status and religion.

The Russian education system comprises five levels:

  • pre-school education;
  • primary education;
  • secondary education;
  • higher education;
  • postgraduate/additional education.

The pre-school level provides for the education of children aged 2-7. At the age of 6-7, children start their education in a primary school, where they spend 4 years, and then proceed to a secondary school.

After the primary education, children start their secondary education, which lasts for 9 years. Upon completion of the 9th grade, students undergo the State Final Attestation, i.e. they pass final exams and are awarded a Certificate of Basic General Education. 9th grade graduates may continue their education at school or apply for entrance to a vocational and technical school, college or technical school. A Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education shall be awarded upon completion of the 11th grade and delivery of final examinations (the Unified State Exam). This Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education and successfully passed examinations allow students to continue to higher education. As already mentioned, persons having secondary general education shall be eligible for mastering Bachelor’s or Specialist’s programs. Persons having higher education of any level shall be eligible for mastering the Master’s programs.

Further education under academic personnel training programs in postgraduate studies (military post-graduate studies), residency programs, assistant/ trainee programs shall be allowed for persons with at least higher education (Specialist’s or Master’s degree) and shall involve obtaining a relevant academic degree — the Candidate of Sciences (equivalent to Ph.D.).

Today, Russia has a developed system of higher professional education consisting of two conflicting education subsystems: a historically established training of graduates under 441 specialities (majors) of higher professional education (studies usually last for 5 years) and a tiered training of graduates (conventional in Europe) that provides for the implementation of educational programs by degrees of higher professional education with awarding a Bachelor’s degree (qualification) (4-year studies) and a Master’s degree (qualification) (6-year studies) to a graduate in 120 areas of higher professional education.

In practice, these subsystems in Russia are implemented according to different schemes:

  • independent education paths in Bachelor and Specialist subsystems without shared parts; and
  • combined education paths during the first years (1st to 2nd or 3rd year of studies) with the subsequent separation of Specialists and Bachelors.

Currently, Bachelor’s and Master’s programs are included in all educational areas of higher professional education, except for medicine and information security areas.

In recent years, there have been significant changes in the Russian education system in terms of financing, structure and state standards. If within 2000-2010 Russia was experiencing a sustained increase in the number of higher professional education institutions, from 2010 onwards, the trend has gained the reverse direction. In 2013, the total number of higher education institutions decreased and amounted to 969 units, which almost corresponds to the level of 2000 (965 units)[1] . Respectively, the number of state and municipal higher education institutions decreased by 31 units as compared to the previous reporting period, and the number of private education organizations decreased by 46 units. This process of reducing the higher professional education institutions occurs as part of the state policy for the optimization (reduction of inefficient education organizations) and merger of higher education institutions (“VUZ”) to create federal universities — major national research centers.

Russian Education System
In 2013, the number of professional education organizations that provide training of secondary professionals fell 9% to 2,703 units. Reduction in the number of professional education organizations occurred both among state and municipal professional education organizations and among private ones. As compared to 2012, the number of state and municipal professional education institutions decreased by 8.7% and amounted to 2,488 units; the number of private professional education institutions decreased by 16% and totaled 215 units.

There is a tendency of reducing the share of secondary vocational education as a whole in the Russian educational space: as compared to 2000, when one student of a secondary specialized education institution (“SSUZ”) accounted for 2 students of a higher education institution, in 2013, this ratio was 1:2.84 (5,646,700 VUZ students and 1,982,100 SSUZ students).
In general, we may give evidence of a tendency towards the elimination of basic vocational education in Russia (where graduates are mainly low-skilled workforce) and a gradual rapprochement and blurring of the boundary between the secondary vocational education and higher professional education (Applied Baccalaureate).

Funding of Education in Russia

The Russian higher education system is characterized by a historically prevailing share of public funding, both in terms of a large number of students studying under programs with a full tuition refund (in 2013, they accounted for 60.6%) and in terms of the direct ratio of budgetary and extra-budgetary funds.

When referring to the public expenditure on education as the most significant part, we can speak of their constant increase in absolute terms (from 214.7 million RUB in 2000 to 2.2318 billion RUB in 2013) and of a more complex dynamics as a percentage:

There is a continuous growth trend in the public expenditure per student (in constant 2000 prices): from 8 thousand RUB for secondary vocational education and 12.1 thousand RUB for higher professional education in 2000 to 20.2 thousand RUB for secondary vocational education and 48.8 thousand RUB for higher professional education in 2011.

The Russian education system undergoes the process of reforming, when the emphasis is on the quality of educational services and the international integration of Russian universities.

State of the Art of Open Education

General OE policy

Since the early 1990s, the Russian Federation has given much attention to the education informatization, evolution of telecommunications networks and development of electronic educational resources. The first step was the establishment (in the framework of the “Universities of Russia” State Program[2]) of the Russian research and education network , which has been formed as a nation-wide network of universities and large research institutions. Through regional research and educational networks shaped within federal and regional programs and initiative projects, thousands of educational, research and cultural institutions were connected to RUNNet. This telecommunication infrastructure became the core of an integral informational and educational environment and provided educational institutions with an access to Russian and foreign research and educational resources.

Setting up the system of federal educational portals, which included the Federal Portal “Russian Education”[3] and thematic portals in various fields of knowledge and directions of educational activity, was an important step in the development of educational content of the Russian Internet.

Educational portals, which were the first to collect and systematize dozens of thousands of educational resources of various purposes, were established within the Federal Targeted Program “Development of the Integrated Educational Information Environment for 2001-2005”. A prerequisite for the successful implementation of new educational technologies in the educational process is training and advanced training of teaching, administrative and engineering and technical personnel. Over the years of the program implementation, 42 regional distance-learning centers for teachers with a dedicated Internet access were established. By 2010, 400,000 Russian teachers had completed their courses on the development of basic ICT competence and had the opportunity to obtain the ICT consulting support.

In 2005-2008, the National Training Foundation (the NTF) implemented a project called “Informatization of the Education System” (the IES). Main directions of the education informatization are as follows:

  • informational and educational resources (content);
  • research and education network infrastructure (network access);
  • information systems and educational process support tools;
  • industry management information systems;
  • hardware and software (computers, system and applied software);
  • teaching, administrative and engineering and technical personnel;
  • system-wide school informatization.

The major result of the IES Project is the elaboration of common models for the interschool informational environment in seven regions as an integral infrastructure involving all teachers and schools of each region with a single coordinating core of the system — a regional coordination center (the RCC). To ensure access to the integrated interschool informational and educational environment for pupils in regions, arrangements for the systematic integration of the secondary education into a system for network connectivity of all schools and methodological services in each region were completed. Instead of ICT classes, a special role in this environment is played by ICT workbenches of teachers of various disciplines that are equipped with extra digital labs for specific subjects.

During the same period, the Priority National Project “Education”[4] was launched. The goal of this project was to ensure mass connection of schools to the Internet, to shape pedagogical community of creative teachers — winners of the PNPE contest and PNPE innovative schools, to support gifted and talented children, and to expand the system of competitions and contests for schoolchildren, including Internet contests. Between 2006 and 2010, under the Federal Targeted Program of Education Development[5], rural schools were equipped with new computer classes, schools were equipped with computerized workplaces for administrators and teachers, Internet collections of educational materials for all subjects of the national curriculum were developed, information systems for school administration and workflow, as well as informational support of schools, were deployed (a network of regional educational portals). In 2006–2010, about 20,000 modules of new-generation digital educational resources (the DER) were developed to support the implementation of educational programs in secondary general education for the following disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, English, geography, culture and art, history, Russian, literature, natural sciences, mathematics, informatics and for the most demanded occupations of basic vocational education and specialties of secondary vocational education. All generated electronic educational resources are made publicly available on the website of the Federal Centre for Information and Educational Resources[6].

In 2007-2009, in order to ensure the software license clarity, a project called “Ensuring the License Support for the Standard (Basic) Software Package to Be Used in General Education Institutions of the Russian Federation” was implemented. In 2007, as part of this project, a purchase of a three-year license for the use of the software included in the standard (basic) licensed software package (the “SBSP”) to be installed on school PCs was funded by the federal budget. The “First Aid” SBSP installed on school PCs includes 56 software products[7].


Information and communication technologies (ICT) and free access to information are essential prerequisites for the creation of the knowledge-based society. To date, the Internet constitutes the most popular source of knowledge, which gives access to diverse information sources presented in various formats. The number of web pages has reached dozens of billions, and for students and teachers it becomes more and more difficult to select sources of educational and scientific information they need among a growing variety of informational resources.

Since 2002, UNESCO has actively supported initiatives to promote Open Educational Resources (OER) on the Internet, since the use of OER can significantly enhance access to quality higher education and lifelong learning and to ensure the full participation of universities in a rapidly evolving global higher education system (UNESCO Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries, 1-3 July 2002). Over the past decade, the movement for the creation, development and promotion of Open Educational Resources has become widespread in many countries around the world: universities more often make their educational and scientific materials accessible, the creation and development of Open Educational Resources is actively supported at the national and international levels.

UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education (5-8 July 2009, Paris), which was devoted to examining major directions and new trends in the development of higher education in the XXI century, identified the following major trends:

  • fundamental changes in the role and function of universities;
  • revising lifelong learning requirements;
  • strengthening the quality control, accreditation and qualification recognition at the national and international levels.

The need to maintain a more complete ICT integration and to promote to distance learning so as to meet the increasing demand for higher education quality in the perspective of lifelong learning was stressed. The increasing pace of technology development raised new challenges to be addressed by the higher education, Government and industry together in order gain experience, improve the legal framework and to share positive experiences. Special attention was paid to the need to ensure access to quality education, especially Open Educational Resources.

The World Open Educational Resources Congress was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 20-22 June 2012. The Congress was attended by the Russian delegation, which included representatives of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, Federal State Institution State Institute of Information Technologies and Telecommunications (FSI SIIT&T Informika), Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics, Moscow Institute of Open Education. The objectives of the 2012 Congress were to:

  • showcase the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives and experts;
  • release the Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs; and
  • celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2002 UNESCO Forum that created the term “OER”.

The Congress brought together over 400 delegates including Ministers of Education/Human Resource Development, senior policy makers, expert practitioners, researchers, representatives of educational institutions and other stakeholders to discuss the current situation with OER across countries, OER national policies, achievements and challenges, to share their experience related to successful projects and agree on the final Declaration. As part of an extensive global consultation process, the Congress was preceded by six regional Policy Forums for ministers and officials in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Arab States.

The Congress adopted the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of Open Educational Resources. One of the major outcomes of the Congress mentioned in the Declaration adopted is that official representatives of member states agreed on the need to adopt such laws that would provide a broad introduction to the practice of “open licenses” — everything that is produced by budgetary institutions or with budgetary funds (in particular, as part of supporting the educational process with education materials, and etc.) shall be made publicly available to all citizens of the country (the world) by posting these materials on various OER portals[8].

The term “Open Educational Resources” (OER) was first introduced into scientific use at the Forum on Open Courseware for Developing Countries organized by UNESCO in July 2002. As stated in the UNESCO adopted definition: “Open Educational Resources are learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others”[9].

According to the adopted definition, OER distinctive features are as follows:

  • methodological, learning or research focus of materials;
  • supporting various formats and media for submission of materials;
  • publishing learning and research materials, which reside in the public domain, on an open license basis;
  • providing free access, use, processing and redistribution of materials by other users;
  • minimum or no restrictions when dealing with OERs;
  • open licensing being embedded in the current system of intellectual property rights determined by the relevant international conventions and recognizing the copyright in a work.

Open Educational Resources are any kinds of publicly accessible educational and research materials that are posted under the “open licenses” allowing to use these materials freely by any user — to copy, modify them, create new resources based thereon. Over the past decade, thousands of collections have been created and posted on the Internet around the world. These collections contain millions of educational resources in the public domain — lecture courses, e-textbooks, courseware, training modules, audio and video materials, tests, software, and other materials that can be used to provide access to knowledge.

As noted in the Policy Brief for UNESCO IITE (Institute for Information Technologies in Education), the initial reason for the OER development is the intention to make knowledge accessible by the maximum possible number of people[10]. Most existing OERs have been developed in higher education institutions by teachers convinced that OER creation activities expand horizons of the higher education mission, promoting the acquisition of new knowledge and the dissemination of those already existing. Building upon the achievements of the Open Access Publishing initiative launched several years earlier, OERs play a key role in the implementation of open education, principles of which were outlined in the Cape Town Declaration.

Open educational resources can include both individual and/or different combinations of the following elements[11]:

  • complete e-learning course;
  • methodological materials;
  • learning modules;
  • teaching guides, workshops;
  • video and audio materials;
  • tests, control assignments;
  • software;
  • other materials, tools or technologies to ensure (support) the access to knowledge.

Thus, OERs represent the special educational content that enables Internet users to explore learning courses and other teaching materials of leading universities and teachers or individual elements of these courses.

The OER is not an end in itself but a tool to receive quality education that is the goal of many people. The main advantage of OERs is their ability to promote changes in educational policies and practices for the benefit of students, teachers and education institutions.

The concept of Open Educational Resources emerged in 2001 when Massachusetts Institute of Technology initiated the establishment of the OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW)[12] allowing Internet users to freely use developed educational materials free of charge. Professor Steven Lerman, a co-founder of the MIT OCW, noted that “selling content for profit, or trying in some ways to commercialize one of the core intellectual activities of the university seemed less attractive to people at a deep level than finding ways to disseminate it as broadly as possible”[13]. In 2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the MIT OCW server becoming a flagship of the OER creation and dissemination movement.

A few years later, the initiative of Massachusetts Institute of Technology was supported by influential educational institutions and organizations in Europe: the UK Open University, the Open University of the Netherlands and the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU). In 2005, MIT hosted the first meeting of the OCW Consortium members. Now, the Consortium includes higher education institutions from 50 countries that have developed and posted over 13,000 courses in various subjects in the public domain.

OpenCourseWare project participants do not think that they give away their materials by providing free Internet access to these. On the contrary, OER developers are convinced that the availability of open resources is relevant and necessary to meet the challenges of contemporary higher education.

The following arguments speak in favor of the OER creation:

  1. Publicly funded educational institutions are obliged to ensure free access and use of their materials, as these materials are partially created with the use of taxes of citizens and thus have already been paid by the society;
  2. The limited access to materials may lead to the duplication of efforts, which also entails extra costs on the part of the society;
  3. The OER posting creates a positive image of the university, which helps to attract students and funding from non-governmental foundations.

OERs should be considered not just as a trendy phenomenon in education but, primarily, as an absolutely obligatory direction for the development of education institutions, in particular, and education as a whole. The OER expanded use increasingly erases the boundaries between the so-called formal and informal learning, proposes fundamentally new approaches to the dissemination of knowledge. This happens just at the time when the effective use of knowledge is becoming a key factor for economic success, both for individuals and institutions in general. Open Education projects make it possible to get absolutely free access to quality online educational resources and therefore undoubtedly contribute to the OER broader participation in higher education and the further promotion of education.

As a motivation for the production, distribution and use of OERs, the following major factors can be distinguished: technological, economic, social and legal ones. Technological and economic factors include the improved, cheaper and user-friendlier infrastructure, i.e. the network, hardware and software. The creation and further use of learning content becomes less expensive. There appear new economic models and legal agreements for the content distribution and reuse. An increasing willingness of educational content developers to provide their resources for distribution in the public domain is noted as social factors.

The economic factor remains a major barrier to investments in hardware and software for the development and dissemination of OERs. Researchers attribute constraints like that one to factors that dramatically hamper the development of countries. However, both Governments and individuals have already faced the need to participate in open education projects. It becomes more and more evident that as the social development clearly manifests itself, knowledge, innovations and ways of its practical use more often act as a source of profit. The fact that knowledge starts to take up key positions in the economic development drastically changes the place of education in the social life structure, the ratio of its spheres such as education and economy. The acquisition of new knowledge, information, skills, orientation approval for its update and development become determinative competencies of society members. Users other than teachers or students comprise the major part of the OER audience.


The creation and publication of Open Educational Resources (OER) is a past stage for flagships of the Open Educational Resources development movement. A promising avenue for development of Open Educational Resources is to create Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), where an Internet user gets access not only to educational content, but also to e-learning technologies (adaptive elements, tests, simulations) and gains guidance support from teachers of leading universities.

The use of ICTs allows to satisfy growing demands of our society for quality education in a lifelong learning perspective. However, the education system itself must undergo qualitative changes through altering both its actual content and teaching methods and tools, environments and ways to disseminate knowledge.

With the continuous growth of volumes and speed of knowledge update, the task of organizing independent exploring and research activities by students and further application of received knowledge to address specific problems become particularly relevant. A determinative avenue for the information educational environment development is to create an integrated environment with a high intellectual component. These are exactly the objectives pursued by the organization of professional communities based on modern information technologies ensuring the instructional model transformation, which will allow to move from ICT studies to learning through ICTs.

Professional communities of experts in various fields of human activities have existed throughout the history of civilization in one form or another. However, the XXI century marked the birth of a qualitatively new form of such communities involving the concentration of information as MOOCs, rather than of people in one place (a virtual one). As an Internet-deployed community, MOOCs may accumulate, evaluate and sort information from a variety of sources and therefore can serve as a tool for quick and efficient creation and dissemination of new knowledge. The creation of professional communities meets the trends of a modern information society, knowledge society, the distinctive feature of which is the active use of new knowledge located in Open Educational Resources and other Internet sources.

Such a formulation of the problem necessitates the use of active and up-to-date content. This global problem can never be solved without promoting the development and use of MOOCs.

Virtual Mobility

A new “Net Generation” of citizens (students) has entered adulthood. For them, tools and approaches to cognition have changed. The effect of spending a few days in a library by the reader is comparable to the effect of making one search query in the global network. The main objective of the new education model is to create an environment that provides the highest possible level of competitive education through the development of the student’s knowledge and skills required by the modern information society[14]: cooperation, communication, social responsibility, critical thinking, efficient and high quality problem solving.

The easiest way for students to obtain competencies required by the modern society is to get involved in the virtual mobility. Virtual mobility implies several opportunities: International Mobility that allows students to join a study group of a foreign university online; Occupational Mobility as an opportunity to take a course on a related or another professional subject. There can be other types of virtual mobility, allowing not only to take the course, but also to gain skills of efficient performance in a virtual environment, interaction with remote participants — course partners.

Legal frameworks and regulations

Currently, the Russian leadership pays special attention to the modernization of the education system of the Russian Federation.

Programs and concepts for the modernization of education in the Russian Federation have been approved at the legislative level.

  • RF Government Instruction of November 17, 2008 No.1662-r “On the Concept of Long-term Social and Economic Development of the Russian Federation up to 2020”, where it is determined that a prerequisite for the formation of an innovative economy is the modernization of the education system being a basis of the dynamic economic growth and social development, the factor of the wellbeing of citizens and national security.
  • RF Government Instruction of January 19, 2006 No. 38-r “On the Social and Economic Development Program of the Russian Federation in the Medium Term (for 2006-2008)”, that states that educational priorities of the Government of the Russian Federation are as follows: supporting the Russian education system modernization on a legislative level, bringing the content and structure of professional training in line with current needs of the labor market, increasing the availability of quality educational services, establishing an independent education quality control evaluation system .
  • In the RF President’s messages to the Federal Assembly and the President’s instructions of December 12, 2013, Mr. Vladimir Putin notes that the adoption of legal instruments enabling Russian higher education institutions to actively develop the massive distance learning, which is also primarily focused on our fellow citizens and citizens of the CIS, should be accelerated.
  • Certain programs have been developed at the regional level; thus, in January-March 2007, the first competition was held among subjects of the Russian Federation deploying integrated projects of education modernization. 53 subjects of the Russian Federation applied for this competition [15].

At the federal level, innovative development programs have been established: there have been approved the Information Society Development Strategy in the Russian Federation, according to which one of the priorities is to participate in the development of international standards in the field of information and telecommunications technologies, alignment of the national system of standards and certification in this field with the international system[16] and the State Program of the Russian Federation “Development of Education” in 2013-2020[17].

RF Government Decree of February 07, 2011 No. 61 (as amended on December 27, 2012) approved the Federal Targeted Program of Education Development for 2011-2015. Under this Program, one of the expected outcomes is the implementation and effective use of new information services, systems and learning technologies, e-learning resources of the new generation.

Pursuant to RF Government Instruction of February 07, 2011 No. 163-r “On the Concept of the Federal Targeted Program of Education Development for 2011-2015”, the strategic goal of the state education policy is to improve access to quality education that meets requirements of the innovative economic development, needs of the modern society and each citizen.

There has been adopted a number of federal laws aimed at modernizing the education, including: Federal Law of December 29, 2012 No. 273-FZ “On Education in the Russian Federation”, Federal Law of November 03, 2006 No. 174-FZ “On Autonomous Institutions”, Federal Law of November 10, 2009 No. 259-FZ “On Lomonosov Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University” (as amended by Federal laws of May 07, 2013 No. 84-FZ, of July 02, 2013 No. 185-FZ). Regulations on the establishment of university-based innovative enterprises are in force. There has been adopted RF Government Decree of August 05, 2013 No. 661 “On Approving the Rules for Developing, Approving and Amending Federal State Educational Standards”.

On September 01, 2014, the new Federal Law of December 29, 2012 No. 273-FZ “On Education in the Russian Federation” came into effect.

The Law highlights individual legal norms devoted to:

  • online interaction in implementing educational programs, including a mechanism for crediting results of mastering separate parts of the educational program in third-party entities;
  • e-learning and the use of distance learning technologies in the educational process;
  • studying under integrated educational programs — educational and informational resources within the educational process and etc.;
  • regulated environment for carrying out experimental and innovative activities in education.

The law sets forth requirements for the implementation of educational programs (Article 13).

The current Federal Law No. 273-FZ “On Education in the Russian Federation” provides organizations engaged in educational activities with an opportunity to use e-learning, distance learning technologies in the implementation of educational programs according to the procedure established by the federal executive body responsible for formulating the state policy and the regulatory environment in the field of education. Under this procedure, educational organizations may use distance learning in all forms of education or their combination[18].

The main purpose of the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation” is to ensure a comprehensive modernization of the legal framework of the Russian Federation in the field of education aimed at bringing it in line with new social relations arising in the field of education, to enhance efficiency of the legal regulatory mechanism, to establish the legal environment for the update and development of the Russian education system in accordance with current demands of the individual, society and the state, innovative economy development needs, international commitments of the Russian Federation in the field of education[19].

On December 26, 2012, the Interdepartmental Working Group on the development of e-learning, distance learning technologies in the implementation of educational programs in educational institutions was established. The e-learning development action plan for 2013-2015 included the following:

  • designing an e-learning development program in Russia;
  • implementing pilot projects in higher educational institutions and professional education organizations;
  • developing the e-learning infrastructure;
  • professional retraining and advanced training in the use of e-learning; and
  • creating a crowdsourcing (expert) e-learning development platform.

Amendments introduced to the Labor Code of the Russian Federation were aimed at regulating the labor of remote employees. On April 19, 2013, Federal Law of April 5, 2013 No. 60-FZ “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation” came into force. This Law has adjusted relations established in the modern practice, when employers hire employees who work outside the territory of the employer's premises.

Barriers and success factors for the adoption of open practices of academic cooperation

The current state of the Russian education system is characterized by after-effects of the administrative command system and planned economy principles. The bureaucratization, which has been accumulated for decades at all governance levels in scientific and educational fields, has dramatically reduced their flexibility and responsiveness.

General Concern of the Education Development

The first of existing and most important problems the Russian education system faces (this also refers to the open education) is its low mobility. National education in Russia is embedded in the Russian social and cultural reality at an isolated level, corresponds to the national mentality and developed national educational traditions, where its own achievements have certainly been achieved. However, the traditional isolation of the Russian educational space, the language barrier and the geographical remoteness from world civilization centers impede the integration of a substantial part of Russian education in the global space of research and education and hamper its efficient development in the global competitive environment. The current situation creates conditions under which it takes too much time for any innovations in this industry to have any progress, for instance, the e-learning that which was launched about 20 years ago, while the first law governing this issue was issued only in 2013. The same situation pertains to Open Educational Resources: only private initiatives of individual organizations can be distinguished, and so far this issue cannot be discussed at the national level since the transformation of the entire education system has just started, and this process may take much time.

Open Education Project Funding

In 2014, the funding of education will decrease by 88 billion RUB (i.e. 12.9% of the 2013 level). The current state of the Russian education is typically characterized primarily from the standpoint of insufficient budgetary funds allocated by the state to ensure the functioning of this field. In these circumstances, all other problems related to the content and quality of education, access to quality education for various social groups (to which the concept of open education pertains), a more complete satisfaction of student inquiries, promotion of ties with the labor market and etc. are sidelined and even fade into insignificance. Although many higher education institutions are willing to lead in modern teaching techniques and methods, the reassignment of funds between traditional and open education systems will hardly be supported on a large scale.

Naturally, the Ministry of Education does not have sufficient funds to finance all higher education institutions willing to introduce an open education system. Plus, these actions are largely meaningless, as so far there is simply nothing to introduce. You first need to set up a system, to conduct a pilot operation within a real academic process, to eliminate shortcomings and errors, and only then to replicate it. In this case, it would be appropriate to entrust several higher education institutions, which already have a reserve, some experience and positive outcomes, to develop and carry out a pilot operation and fine-tuning of their systems without limiting them with any standards.

Training of Teachers and Lecturers

A separate issue of the open education development is the training of teachers in this industry. Certainly, if we speak of the open education only within OERs, this issue is automatically eliminated as the content with its minimum processing is made publicly available and is not accompanied by a teacher. However, current trends show that MOOCs represent the next step of OER development and, in this event, the teacher’s support becomes truly vital. E-learning culture in Russia virtually starts to emerge, and few organizations have more or less mature practices in this area. So that a teacher could effectively teach a subject within the same MOOCs, he/she should, first, know this subject in a professional manner; second, precisely and clearly understand the e-learning methodology and features; third, master e-learning tools in a professional manner and, fourth, have extensive experience of the student distance learning. It should be noted that in Russia only few education organizations have such professionals employed on their staff.

Distrust of Open Resources

The following issue is closely related to the first of the above problems — this is the student’s mentality. Ever since the days of the Soviet Union, the education proved by the awarded state-recognized diploma (regardless of the knowledge obtained by the student upon graduation and the question of whether he/she obtained that knowledge at all) has been considered to be the only quality education. Now, even if educational organizations receive funding and start to make terabytes of content publicly available, the popularity of open education is unlikely to show a significant growth precisely because of the end user’s distrust. For example, only 2.2% of Russian students took courses at the Coursera project in 2013. However, it should be noted that attempts made to alter the course of the Russian education towards its informatization and transition to e-learning should deliver benefits in the development of Open Educational Resources.

Copyright Issue

7 years ago Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics (MESI) launched a project on the joint development of teaching materials. As part of this project, there has been developed a resource where teachers from the parent organization and its branches should have placed their groundwork on this or that subject to be later transformed into a training course. A few years later, this project was recognized as a failure for a variety of reasons, among which was the unwillingness of teachers to provide shared access to their own groundwork, even considering the fact that this work was funded and the access to materials was provided only within this organization. This example properly illustrates the general problem of copyright in the educational content developed in Russia, which undoubtedly constitutes a barrier to the promotion of open education, where the content “openness” is one of the key elements.

Examples of OE-enhanced Academic Collaboration


Almost all education management levels in Russia, including the regional and institutional ones, supported the OER creation and dissemination movement. Universities, government organizations, private companies as well as individual authors became developers of Open Educational Resources


The leading role in forming OERs is played by universities — recognized and authoritative sources of educational and research materials in the modern society. Placement of educational and other resources of universities in the public domain constitutes a timely and relevant achievement of the academic community, especially against the background of critical issues regarding the quality and reliability of data available on the Internet.

Most members of the academic community share the idea that information and knowledge should be disseminated freely, which serves as the basis for developing scientific disciplines and improving the quality of educational services around the world.

Leading Russian universities have their own open educational environments, where they post educational resources.

Table 1. Developers Community of Open Educational Resources
Institution Description Type  Academic credit
National Open University "INTUIT" Organization providing services for several educational programs, many of which relate to information technology. The web-server contains hundreds of open educational courses for the passage of which you can get free electronic certificate. Also maybe pay for certificates of professional development MOOC,
Yes (for registered full-fee students)


In accordance with the Charter of IITE activities focus on the implementation of one of the fundamental objectives of UNESCO - to facilitate the development and implementation of programs on the use of information and communication technologies in education. On this subject can be found online publications and electronic courses. Open courses No

Open courses of Moscow Architectural Institute

All courses correspond to the principle of originality, they were created by teachers MARCHI observe copyright.
To use the courses do not require special registration, provision of educational documents, payment or other conditions.


Free online university provides free courses in computer science and related disciplines. Video lectures, tests, exercises, homework assignments and active community of students - Hexlet components.
Site features: the active participation of teachers, live chat with students and focus on practical issues.

ALT Linux

Distance learning server, organized and supported by the community ALT Linux. The main objective of this site is to share experiences of learning the basics of information technology users. Open Courses No
Lectoriy of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT)
Video lectures and open educational materials of MIPT. The project aims to create an archive of educational videos. Video lectures, open courses No

Distance learning server provides remotes business education to improve skills in the field of entrepreneurship. Open courses No
OpenCourseWare по-русски
RuOCW – project aims to support OCW Russian-language OER. OER, OpenCourseWare No

Online professors

The lecturers from leading Russian universities are invited to design and promote their website about training courses.
The web server consist of websites devoted to various academic disciplines. Each site - independent educational resource that teachers and students use the learning process. Lectures, presentations, workshops, tests and examinations - all this can be found on the websites
Open courses
Open educational video portal provides access to: educational films on various topics; lectures by the leading Russian and foreign universities; scientific conferences or scientific and popular lectures on issues of interest; samples of school teaching complex topics in the "School". Video lectures No
Fund project "Wikimedia", positioning itself as a new form of interactive education and conducting research projects open. Wikiversity aims to promote the discovery and dissemination of knowledge in the most natural way: helping people learn and share educational materials. OER No
Computer online video class
Video tutorials for different categories of users related to computer topics OER No
Educational project "Academia", which started in 2010 in one of the Russian TV channels. In the framework of eminent Russian scientists read popular science lectures for all comers, and their videos are laid out on the Internet. Each edition of the program - a lecture on one of the basic sciences. OER No

An important role in the OER development is played by OER operators completing the following tasks:

  • combining OER information stored on scattered web servers;
  • creating an OER catalog (by topic and/or by educational level);
    creating search tools to find OERs; and
    promoting OERs in the academic environment.

OER operators develop and maintain information systems that integrate information (metadata) on OERs obtained from different sources. Such information systems enable to conduct a quick search for OERs, get information on the targeted discipline about the number of OERs and their developers, as well as about their access conditions.
OER operators create a unified information environment for teachers and students at one of the following levels:

  • national level;
  • international level.

Educational and research materials of Russian higher educational institutions are presented in information systems of FSI SIIT&T Informika. The following information systems with free access to educational and research resources have been created.

Table 2. Integrators of open educational resources
Institution Description Type
The Federal Centre for Informational and Educational Resources (FCIER) FCIER is one of the flagship projects of the Federal Targeted Programme for the Development of Education (2006- 2010) aimed at creation of the informational and educational environment and infrastructure in the Russian Federation. Catalogue of OER and search engines for OER
Federal Portal “Russian Education”
The educational portals have evolved as an integrated system of educational Internet projects. The Federal Portal “Russian Education” is a backbone component, an “entry point” to the system. It contains not only a list of all the portals and links to them, but also provides information on approaches, standards, and technologies. There are also publications on the development of the system of portals. To unify metadata of resources according to international standards (IMS/LOM), the standard “Metadata of informational and educational resources for Internet catalogues” was developed by “Informika” (2004) and adopted by the community of portal developers. In particular, this standard suggests an integrated approach to classification of resources based on a “four-dimension” subject heading list: by the level of education, target audience, type of resources and subject field. Catalogue of OER and search engines for OER
Educational resources online
The catalog of online Educational Resources for basic and secondary (complete) general education" is based on the printed version and is an information system that includes the following categories: Federal and regional educational resources; Educational publishing and educational media; Conferences, exhibitions, competitions, contests; Software tools; Digital libraries, dictionaries, encyclopaedias. Catalogue of OER
Single-Entry Window The integrated catalogue of resources contains metadata of educational Internet resources: descriptions of materials of the digital library of the Single-Entry Window portal and external resources published at other portals and websites. The catalogue is indexed according to the following criteria:
  • the level of education: pre-school, general, vocational and extended education;
  • the target audience: university enrollee, researcher, manager, teacher, and student;
  • resource type: educational sites, learning, instructional, reference, illustrative, research materials, regulatory documents, etc.;
  • the subject field within general and vocational education.
Catalogue of OER and search engines for OER


Currently, Russian higher education institutions have joined the OER dissemination movement, providing access to their educational programs, workshops or teaching guides and even e-learning courses. In today’s educational environment, granting free access only to the educational content will not create any significant competitive advantages for the Russian education system in general and higher education institutions in particular. With the active development of foreign MOOC promotion programs, Russian higher education institutions noticeably lose out to foreign universities in terms of attracting the Internet users attention.

The analysis of international experience demonstrates that universities cooperate in order to promote MOOCs carrying out a joint design and development of the environment for open educational courses and providing joint training on MOOCs.

The Russian system of professional education needs to have its own MOOC environment to develop and promote the Russian education.

The MOOC popularity among Russian-speaking Internet users indicates the importance of establishing the Russian MOOC learning environment. Development of the MOOC learning environment will open up new horizons for the Russian system of professional education:

  • free competition of e-learning courses and educational institutions;
  • new quality of education and educational services;
  • unprecedented opportunities for access to high quality educational courses;
  • creation of a new educational environment for the development of education; and
  • creation of an educational program comprising courses from different developers.
Table 3. Developers of MOOCs
Institution Description Type Academic credit
Massive Open Online Courses MESI
The initiative of the Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics provides e-learning services for internet users. Self-registration on the site and on the record provided by the courses accessible to everyone. Today for their own student enrollment in courses available for 3 categories:
Economics and Finance; Russian as a Foreign Language; Computer Science and Applied Informatics.
(English language)
Yes (for registered full-fee students)
Universarium is the platform for training courses of Russian universities focused on broad audiences implements several functions:
• Provide access to quality and affordable education for everyone
• Increasing the attractiveness of education
• Preservation of national identity of the Russian educational space
• Provide additional opportunities and vocational training for Russian citizens living in remote and inaccessible areas
• Ensuring access to education for people with disabilities
• Strengthening the position of the Russian language as a basic language of communication in the Russia
MOOCs Yes (for registered full-fee students)
Online courses leading Russian universities MOOCs Yes (for registered full-fee students)

Virtual mobility

Instances of virtual mobility practices are few among Russian universities due to legal constraints and several other factors. The first examples of the virtual mobility are found in educational programs for high-tech areas.

Table 4. Virtual mobility initiatives
Institution Description Keywords
Postgraduate Training Network in Biotechnology of Neurosciences BioN
BioN is the first National Educational Network in Neurosciences. BioN creates advanced courses, organizes students’ placements in European universities, conducts seminars and schools.
BioN is the first Russian national level network of postgraduate schools in natural sciences and, in a larger context, as an intellectual innovation initiative to develop biotechnology applications in Russian life sciences. BioN is designed as a network of leading centers in different fields of neuroscience associated with the partner universities and research institutes. BioN promotes a number of coordinated activities, introduces common standards and practices and improves the quality of postgraduate education in the Russian Federation.

Interuniversity program of training engineers for the innovative economy of Moscow - is highly skilled engineers and technicians who are ready to participate in a professional high-tech innovation companies.
- The program is based on the interaction of the leading technical universities in Moscow (Master implementation of training programs in network ); high-tech companies (practical activities students project companies) and expertise of the business community (providing advice and mentoring support project work students).
In the pilot phase of the program will use the results of successful case study: developed in 2011-2013. at the Department of Technological Entrepreneurship MIPT - RUSNANO model of skilled manpower for nanotechnology-based enterprises.
Technical University,
Interuniversity program


  1. Federal State Statistics Service
  2. RUNNet
  3. Federal Portal “Russian Education”
  4. PNPE
  5. Federal Targeted Program of Education Development (FTPED)
  6. Federal Centre for Information and Educational Resources (FCIER)
  8. 2012 Paris OER Declaration
  9. Patrick McAndrew, Karen Cropper. Open Educational Resources and Intellectual Property Rights. Policy Brief, UNESCO, 2011
  10. CIS on the Way towards Open Educational Resources. Synthesis Report, UNESCO, 2011
  11. Andy Lane (2010). Global Trends in the Development and Use of Open Educational Resources to Reform Educational Practices”. Policy Brief for UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, November 2010.
  12. Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources, 2007
  13. Auditing Classes at M.I.T., on the Web and Free
  14. Komleva, N.V. From Printed Textbooks to E-learning Courses // News from Higher Educational Institutions. Printing and Publishing Challenges, No. 1, 2011, pp. 175-185
  15. Official website of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
  16. Information Society Development Strategy in the Russian Federation (approved by the President of the Russian Federation on February 7, 2008, No. Pr-212)// Rossiyskaya Gazeta, No. 34, February 16, 2008
  17. RF Government Instruction of May 15, 2013 No. 792-R
  18. Order of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation of May 6, 2005 No. 137 “On Approving the Procedure for Use of Distance Learning Technologies” // Rossiyskaya Gazeta, No. 179, August 16, 2005