Vestnik Kavkaza visited rector of Azerbaijan State University of Economics Adalat Muradov.
- The university led by you today was founded in 1930 and was considered the alma mater for socialist economists for a long time. How did you manage to make UNEC competitive under market economy conditions?
- After the USSR collapsed, all universities operating from Soviet times faced similar problems. I had the task to turn a university into a world-class university. To accomplish this task, we have begun to work with leading world universities. For the fourth year in a row we have been working under the international program of the London School of Economics, and our graduates receive two diplomas - from UNEC and the London School. We work in a slightly different way with the French University of Montpellier: our students go to France in their third year, they study there in English for one year, but in the end they also receive two diplomas. Since this September, we will start implementing the program with the Lincoln University in the U.S. under the MBA program [Master of Business Administration - the flagship program at the business school - VK]: our students will study for a year there and another year here, and at the end they will also receive two diplomas. Moreover, when studying in the US., they will get a work permit and will be able to earn money for study there.
In five years we have attracted about 400 young teachers, who received education in America, in Europe, in Canada, in Russia, in Turkey, to the university.
In addition, we have created a new faculty where English is the language of instruction - the International School of Economics, where all young teachers received their education in English abroad. I am very proud that last year the minimum passing score for this faculty was 629, and for the finance program - 653.
- What's about the Russian School of Economics, founded three years ago on the basis of UNEC?
- This is one of the most important innovations of our university. Previously, we had a Russian sector at each faculty of UNEC. Approximately 20% of students prefer to study in Russian, so we created a separate faculty, which we will develop together with leading Russian universities. Just recently, I met with rector of the Higher School of Economics Yaroslav Kuzminov in Moscow, and a group of HSE students led by two vice-rectors will arrive in Baku already in early June. Together we will analyze options for mutual cooperation.
By the way, UNEC is the only foreign university with a branch campus in Russia. Our branch operates in Derbent. We built an excellent campus there, and Russian citizens free education, being enrolled according to the results of the uniform state exam. The curriculum of the Derbent branch is created on the basis of the Plekhanov University. I think that now branches of other universities can be opened in our Russian branch campus: the conditions are very good there, the corresponding infrastructure has been created ...
We also cooperate with the Greek University in the Joint Degree Program master's program: our teachers go there, providing 30% of the entire educational process. As a result, we issue a diploma signed by me and the rector of the Greek University.
- One of the main criteria for assessing a university's scientific activity is the number of scientific publications. What's the situation at UNEC?
- UNEC has become the most dynamic university in terms of increasing a number of publications in the Web of science and Scoups databases. By the way, we pay decent fees for each publication in the Web of science not only to teachers, but also to students. So far, only three of our students have published their paperes in Scoups, but I think this is only the beginning.
We were the first in the region to apply differentiated wage rates, evaluating the work of our teachers according to 100 criteria, on the basis of which we compile a rating, and the first 100 positions in this ranking are paid an increased salary.
- Joining UNEC, you re-branded the university. Did this contribute to the growth of interest in the university from the citizens of the CIS countries?
- Our strategic goal is to increase the number of foreign students to 20% of the total number of students. We decided to re-brand three years ago and received a patent for the brand UNEC (University of Economics). Last year we received a patent for a new brand in Turkey, and this year, I hope, we will receive it in the European Union. I think we will assert ourselves on the international education market soon.
- What disciplines are most often chosen by applicants? Which is the most popular?
- Finance and financial accounting. In the MBA program, we occupy 70% of the domestic market, that is, 70% of all students in the MBA program choose us.
- Does UNEC conduct any research?
- I have already mentioned our publications - we concentrate our efforts on the papers that are recognized at the world level. We concluded that not all teachers can be also researchers, so we decided to reveal the potential of those teachers who can conduct research. For this purpose, we have created 26 research centers. Each is headed by one already reputable researcher who forms a group of three to four people. We define research topics ourselves, for example, the digital economy, virtual money, etc. If we do not have good specialists in these areas, we attract them from outside.
Next year, there will be the university's 90th anniversary, and our strategic goal is to enter the 1000 leading world universities list. Today our university is the 171st among the best in the region of Central Europe and Central Asia. And when it is 100th anniversary, we hope to be among the top 500 universities in the world.
- How do you see the prospects for the development of economic education in general?
- The development of economic education is our task. UNEC prepares personnel for the economic sphere. Now we are working on the preparation of a new economic education standard, together with the real sector of the economy. Personally, I am sure that the curriculum should be revised: it has a lot of unnecessary subjects now, but some important and necessary ones are missing. We plan to reduce the load of students, reduce the number of subjects and give more time for unsupervised activities. Our task is to attract promising teachers from abroad.
- But, after all, Russian scientists hold classes in your Russian economic school...
- Yes, they come from Russia, but it's not enough. I think in June, when we complete the negotiations with the HSE, more Russian teachers will come to Baku, and ours will go to Moscow. UNEC teachers already worked at the Plekhanov University, at the University of Astrakhan and at the University of Voronezh. I think this is just the beginning. We are interested in a quality quality education in Russian.
I asked the rector of the HSE to provide us with postgraduate and doctoral quotas in Moscow. I think we will send our young specialists there who will do postgraduate studies, pass Ph.D. defense and return to Baku.
- Does UNEC have the only 24-hour library in Azerbaijan? Are there many users?
- During the session students even sit on its floors at night. At two o'clock in the morning, we give each student a bun on behalf of the rector to help the guys.
- What is UNEC EXTERN?
- I am sure that this is the future of education. Today, classical education goes into the background. Students do not need to attend classes, sit in the classroom. The main thing is to gain knowledge. Knowledge can be obtained in different ways, including with the help of new technologies: a professoe sits in the classroom, and his students are in other places, but they hear and see everything, can ask questions. Everything that a professor does and says is recorded, and then students can watch it many times.
- How to enter your university if you are a citizen of Russia?
- Rosobrnadzor granted us a license, so the UNEC diploma is recognized in both Azerbaijan and Russia. Citizens of the Russian Federation who do not want or cannot study in our Derbent branch have the opportunity to enter it here in Baku. They can submit documents only online, being in Russia. All information on admission of students is available on our website unec.edu.az. If an applicant passes, we send him congratulations, he comes to us and learns from us in Baku.