Be ready to learn throughout your life – RANEPA Rector Vladimir Mau, interview with Snob magazine

13 July 2021
Be ready to learn throughout your life – RANEPA Rector Vladimir Mau, interview with Snob magazine

Shortly before schools reopen for a new academic year, Rector of the Presidential Academy Vladimir Mau shared with the Snob magazine what new students should focus on when applying for degree programs.

Adaptability to rapid changes is the most valuable skill today

People have lived in about the same way for thousands of years. However, over the past two centuries, the pace of life has accelerated, and each new generation lives a life that is appreciably different from the previous one. But the past couple of decades have seen the pace of change – primarily technological, then economic and social – actually skyrocket. Qualitative changes can now occur repeatedly within one generation. So the main skill that you need to develop in this situation is adaptability to rapidly succeeding challenges and changing priorities. It means being able to use your knowledge and skills to your satisfaction and success in a rapidly changing world.

Indeed, in four or six years, when today's school-leavers will be awarded their bachelor's or master's degrees, specialties that do not even exist yet might emerge as the most promising. To address that, young people need to consider programs that teach a flexible approach to specialization and allow students to change track as they go or combine two or three specialties. For example, consider a multidisciplinary bachelor's degree. This approach is based on interdisciplinarity and freedom of choice, where the student can change track or choose additional disciplines, tracing their own individual educational trajectory, and emerging as a unique specialist.

Professional education is an investment, not a featherbed

It isn’t easy to pick a specialty that holds bright prospects for the future. With all this talk about too many lawyers or economists around, employers are well aware that finding a competent and highly qualified lawyer or economist is still a challenge. The answer is, choose what you are really interested in and you will achieve success. A good university will provide opportunities and space for you to refine and deepen your expertise in the chosen field as you study.

All you need to know is that working for your degree has to be both challenging and fascinating. If it’s too easy, it means something is going wrong. If you are bored, it means you have come to a wrong place. But if you feel you are ready to really invest your energy, time and attention, then you can get the most out of it.

Explore networking possibilities between universities

Today, many universities offer joint programs with other schools, Russian and foreign. Networking is a steady trend in education: universities set up alliances and consortia, exchange resources, and initiate exciting joint projects. They offer more than just student mobility programs – there are real opportunities of actually taking simultaneous programs at two or more universities in the course of four or six years, and even earning two degrees at the end of the course. For example, we offer such joint bachelor's and master's programs with leading European universities in France, the UK, and Spain.

Use online participation capabilities

The pandemic has catalyzed the rapid adoption of remote learning technologies, but the widespread use of that potential was only a matter of time anyway. In the coming years, we will definitely see major universities develop new educational formats that use online learning technologies. This is what remote learning is, precisely – a technology, not a form of education. It creates tremendous opportunities and can effectively complement the conventional learning process, providing access to best professors from any place around the world and empowering students to independently choose their educational trajectory.

You will have to study throughout your life

If you are starting your first year, then most likely, this is your first university degree. It is unlikely you have just chosen a field and a specialty for the rest of your life; neither is your life path going to be determined by your specialty.

During the time that you spend at the university, the ideas about popular and promising professions will certainly change – more than that, new technologies will appear, and even society itself will change. Get ready to learn all your life. It is important to understand that people who have fundamental knowledge – things that never become obsolete – will be best at navigating the rapidly changing world. This kind of expertise provides a solid foundation that helps a person to be flexible throughout their life, learn new things, level up the necessary skills and competencies – and change areas of application without much stress.


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