How the youngest university in the country trains specialists for the oil and gas industry

There is a lack of qualified specialists in 62% of oil and gas companies, according to analysts (one of the most popular job search services). Yugra State University was founded in order to provide personnel for industrial enterprises of Yugra, the largest oil-producing region of Russia. Rector Roman Kuchin described how the university adapts its educational programs to the demands of the labor market.

There is still a great demand for specialists in Yugra. Does your university get enough budgetary funded places?

Roman Kuchin: We are lucky: the Autonomous Okrug itself provides YuSU with up to 40% of budgetary funded places. There is also a tendency of redistribution of quotas from big leading universities to regional ones. This is done on a competitive basis: the scores of applicants, employment of graduates, etc. are evaluated. For example, in 2021 we increased the number of budgetary funded places by 20%. Today there are more than a thousand of them, including the distance learning form: 637 from the federal ministry and 383 from the Region. The total number of students at our university is 10,000, and we graduate more than 2,000 specialists a year.

What areas of training are the most popular among the applicants of YuSU?

Roman Kuchin: They can enter one of four institutes: humanities, law, oil and gas, digital economy. At the Institute of Oil and Gas young people learn the specialties required by the regional industry: "oil and gas engineering", "power engineering", "technosphere safety". The most popular specialties this year are "law" and "software engineering.

Higher education in Russia is undergoing a transformation. Was the exit from the Bologna system painful?

Roman Kuchin: The rectors of most universities are sure that it will not affect the training of students. Sometimes we have discussions with oil companies about the difference between a bachelor and a specialist engineer, but, in fact, the issue is elaborated. Bachelor's graduates are offered positions that do not require narrow specialization, and a master's degree can provide them with the knowledge they lack. This variability should be preserved. The system of specialist training should also be reviewed, since the market situation is changing rapidly: new competencies may be required in five years. First of all, the quality of training depends on the ability to update the curriculum quickly.

Do students have the opportunity to choose additional courses, to create an individual educational trajectory?

Roman Kuchin: Of course. This is why the Institute of Academic Design appeared in the structure of the university in 2020. This summer, we founded the Competence Assessment Center in conjunction with the Autonomous Nonprofit Organization «Russia - Land of Opportunity». They analyze what general competencies first-year students have, and then we agree with potential employers on a list of professional competencies and draw up an individual study plan for each student based on the diagnosis. In addition to compulsory subjects, they can choose courses to develop the competencies they need, and eventually even get another additional diploma - a professional retraining degree, for example in economics, pedagogical education, law, etc.

YuSU is the same age as today's students: the university is only 21 years old. Does this affect the popularity of the university among youth?

Roman Kuchin: Being young has its advantages, because we are just forming the university's research agenda and vacant positions in the staff. For example, the Humanitarian Institute of YuSU is headed by one of our graduates. We have wide opportunities to implement all kinds of projects on the territory of the region. For example, thanks to the work of Professor Elena Lapshina a field station "Mukhrino" appeared in Yugra, in 2010 it became part of the global network for ecological monitoring of northern regions. Such interesting projects increase the inflow of qualified personnel. By the way, the average age of our faculty staff is only 45 years old.

Are the scientific works of YuSU researchers in demand in the real sector?

Roman Kuchin: Of course, especially in the energy sector. For example, the idea of the professor of Oil and Gas Institute, which helps to detect breaks in power transmission lines, was implemented by one local oil and gas company. Our scientists have also offered a new variant for saving fuel in diesel power plants that provide electricity to small settlements. The development of a young researcher of YuSU is at the prototype stage now. He suggests using waste oils from the oil industry for the production of household chemicals. A local petrochemical plant is already interested in his method, because it is more profitable than foreign analogues.

The university recently won a grant for the development of student enterprise. What are you planning to use these funds for?

Roman Kuchin: We will organize an acceleration program using a grant from the National Technological Initiative platform. Under the supervision of experienced mentors, our students will learn how to implement commercial projects. Specialists in different fields will be part of the teams. Participants will be able to use laboratories of the university, Boiling Point and YuSU IT-courts as well as partners' infrastructure. As a result they will get an opportunity to defend their diploma as a startup and create an innovative enterprise. One of our graduates, by the way, has already done his diploma work in such a format and received investments for business development. Students also receive the governor's grants for social projects - up to 10 million rubles.

Are YuSU graduates ready to work in the region?

Roman Kuchin: If you look at the population dynamics in Khanty-Mansiysk, 21 years ago there were only 36 thousand people, and now there are more than 100 thousand people, including our graduates. Over the last five years the number of applicants from other regions to YuSU has increased by 35 percent. After they graduate, they stay in Yugra: there are good conditions for employment here. I'd like to point out that the average salary in the region is higher than in many other Russian regions - 75 thousand rubles. And our teachers and scientists earn 150 thousand rubles in average.


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