Volume:6, Issue: 2

Sep. 1, 2014

Experimental Applied Baccalaureate Program: Experience and Results
Palekhova, Polina V. [about] , Predbannikova, Olga I. [about]

KEY WORDS: vocational education, practice-oriented approach, experimental applied baccalaureate program, international educational projects, job placement.

ABSTRACT: The paper offers a brief overview and analysis of an applied baccalaureate program provided at the Moscow Banking School (College) of the Bank of Russia. The program is run in accordance with the resolution of the Russian Government and in cooperation with the National Research University - Higher School of Economics. Upon completion the program graduates have obtained a secondary vocational degree in banking and a college degree in economics.


In this paper, we will give a brief account of the content and results of an experimental vocational educational model which was successfully realized in July 2014 and came up to the estimations.

On August 19, 2009, the Government of the Russian Federation issued a resolution # 667 “On experiment in setting up applied baccalaureate program in undergraduate studies at secondary and higher vocational education institutions,” and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation announced the appropriate competition among federal educational institutions of secondary and higher vocational education. The Moscow Banking School (College) of the Bank of Russia became one of 50 winners to launch this experimental program. It was commissioned by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation that financed both – the four years of the program and provided the corresponding extra-curricular activities. The National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE) became a partner in this project.

The experimental applied baccalaureate program in banking (as part of the economics cycle) was launched in 2010. The Bank sponsored the enrollment of 50 full-time students (20 male and 30 female). The entrance competition was 2.3 applicants per vacancy and the passing national exam score was 73 with a hundred maximum. Upon the end of the second year the number of students was reduced to 38 and did not change until the completion of the program. The geography of the project was diverse: students came from Moscow and other 31 regions of Russia.

From the project start, its organizers and faculty stressed the necessity and importance to develop not only vocational but also general cultural competences of future specialists. Teaching materials were composed in cooperation with the training center of the Bank of Russia and the HSE Instructional Department. All in all, the syllabus included a well-structured system of integrated components (34 theoretical courses, 3 optional courses, 9 vocational modules, PE classes, and 2 term papers). 24 academic courses were delivered at the university, 16 academic and 6 vocational courses were arranged at the college. Three vocational modules and the final state attestation were jointly held by the Higher School of Economics and the Moscow Banking School (College) of the Bank of Russia.

Of course, the experimental applied baccalaureate program meets all the requirements of the Bologna Process. It lasts 4 years and consists of 240 credits (60 credits per year). The syllabus emphasizes its practice-oriented character (over 50% are practice-oriented courses). This is the main reason that the program involves 19 various types of on-the-job practices. 9 vocational modules include a theoretical set of disciplines, specialized learning and field practice followed by exams (each module may ‘cost’ from 4 to 8 credits). 6 credits are allocated for the pre-graduation field practice, and 9 credits – for the final state attestation1.

During their self-study students can make use of both informational resources – those belonging to the College and the University.

The project’s administrative format was so flexible that vocational syllabi submitted for competition and approved by the RF Ministry of Education and Science in 2010 had to be reviewed several times throughout the project realization. Finally, a set of ten core documents was developed, agreed on, approved, and tested. It included regulations and learning guidelines and was incorporated in the College’s quality management system.

A survey conducted among students showed that the goals and objectives had been achieved by each student. Most students appreciated the course organization, realization and field practice and rated them as “good” (46.9%) and “excellent” (53.1%).

An expert survey among one third of field practice employers showed high reviews of the results of academic and vocational training. Thus, according to one of the reports on “Payment procedures and settlements via the payment processing network of the Bank of Russia,” heads of five subsidiary offices of a major Russian Bank and Bank VTB 24, offered temporary jobs to the program graduates.

A survey among students concerning their job prospects, career expectations and their own preparedness for the present-day realities in Russia, based on their own self-evaluation, showed that the overwhelming majority of students (94.6%) had made an informed choice towards the experimental applied undergraduate program and they felt satisfied acquiring a degree in banking. The fact that 23 graduates (62.2%) are planning to work in the chosen field has proved the success of the project.

The majority of graduates (34 students or 91.9%) preferred the Central Bank of the Russian Federation as their prospective job placement. Understanding that only the best graduates (11 students or 29.7%) may claim such a vacancy, the students mentioned VTB24 as their second placement priority.

Almost one hundred employees of the Bank of Russia and other banking institutions held workshops for our students within the four years of the program. An important factor for the project realization was coordination and supervision by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

Various extracurricular activities (about 5 events per year on average) contributed to the high quality of academic and vocational education. Especially valuable were activities which involved the use of foreign languages, primarily English: international students’ conferences housed by the Bank of Russia, summer schools in Hachenburg (the University of Applied Sciences of Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany), Seattle (USA), an international conference in the Czech Republic, Russian-Finnish workshop, meetings with top professionals such as representatives of the National Bank of France, a member of the Bank of Italy Board of directors, the CEO of the International Academic Initiatives (USA),  President & CEO of Associates in Cultural Exchange (USA), representatives of the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, etc.

We believe that among the summer schools that our students attended, the most effective and unforgettable were the following: in St. Petersburg after the first year; in Seattle, WA, and in  Hachenburg after the second year. Almost all the students managed to visit the University of Applied Sciences of Deutsche Bundesbank within the four years of the program.  The 2-week summer schools were well attended and included various conferences, roundtables and workshops in banking. They contributed to further professional and cultural growth, brought the students closer to each other and enriched them with new impressions. Such academic trips were granted to the most deserving students. As a result, each year we could observe increased individual performance along with the growing status and results of the experiment.

The average grade for the students’ final qualification papers was 8.5 (on a scale of one to ten). Upon graduation some students received degrees with honors: 22 (55.3%) of the secondary vocational level and 9 (24%) of the undergraduate level.

The current career estimation looks as follows: 5 graduates are planning to continue education at a graduate school, 2 graduates are considering the employment in VTB24, 2 more have got job placement in some regions of Russia while 22 graduates have been employed by the Bank of Russia.

Summarizing the results of the project, we cannot but ask the question if the final results have met the original goals and objectives of the four-year program. Even if we consider bare facts, the latter are very convincing in revealing the social importance and innovative character of the experiment, which undoubtedly enriched the Russian system of education. Here are just a few arguments: productive and creative cooperation between the oldest banking college in Russia (Moscow Banking School) with its traditional system of education, and the up-to-date higher educational institution, the Higher School of Economics; new study program which integrates two levels of education – secondary vocational and undergraduate; well-balanced combination of theory and practice in education; employer’s active involvement in the study process with the employer’s qualification requirements taken into consideration; effective combination of control and academic freedom in the process of professional and personal competences.

Of course, these are just preliminary results, and in the future it will be useful to analyze our graduates’ career trajectories and their personal achievements.

However, professionals related to this project have already unanimously concluded that there is a necessity to use the obtained results in the following directions:

- in regards of professional training in banking: the experimental applied baccalaureate  program may be found valuable in developing vocational educational standards;

-  concerning the systems approach: to continue accumulating valuable experience within the system of professional training of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation;  

- in practice: to implement the best practices of academic and extracurricular activities tested within the experimental program in the work of banking schools (colleges) of the Bank of Russia.

References

  1. Asmolov A.G. Vektor socialnyx izmenenij // Obrazovatelnaya politika [Social Measurement Vector // Educational Policy] – 2010. - Vol 1, 2. – pp. 2-4.
  2. Olejnikova O.N. Modulnye texnologii: proektirovanie i razrabotka obrazovatelnyx program [Module technologies: design and development of educational programs] / O.N.Olejnikova, A.A.Muraveva, Yu.V.Konovalova, E.V.Sartakova. – 2-nd revised ed. – M.:Alfa - M, 2010.
  3. Palekhova P.V., Sviridenko Yu.P. Transformaciya obrazovatelnyx programm v dejstvii (eksperimentalnyj proekt “prikladnoj bakalavriat”) [Transformation of educational programs in action (experimental applied baccalaureate project)] // Service in Russia and Abroad electronic journal. – Vol. 4 (31). - 2012. - http://old.rguts.ru/reg_numbers4(31)  – 0421200058078
  4.  Palekhova P.V., Lomovitskaya I.I. Kolledzhi Banka Rossii: mezhdunarodnyj opyt praktiko-orientirovannogo obucheniya [Colleges of the Bank of Russia: international experience of practice-oriented learning] // Money and credit, – Vol. 9. 2012.
  5. Frumin I.D. Rossijskoe obrazovanie – 2020: Model obrazovaniya dlya ekonomiki, osnovannoj na znaniyah [Russian education 2020: Model of education for the economy based on knowledge] // Modernization of economy and globalization. M.: HSE Publishing House, 2009.

1 Additional info: total number of academic hours - 9,180; classroom hours - 4,380 including 144 hours of pre-graduation practice. Program distribution: Moscow Banking School (College) of the Bank of Russia: 2.195 hours, Higher School of Economics (National Research University): 2.041 hours. Faculty: 50 instructors (19 from MBS and 31 from HSE) including 6 doctors of sciences, 20 candidates of sciences and 7 senior instructors with extensive employment record in banking.

 

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