“The Coronavirus Pandemic and Economic Policy Trends”: Vladimir Mau Meets Participants of the International RANEPA Summer Campus
Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration Vladimir Mau delivered a lecture to the participants of the RANEPA Summer Campus, which runs at Sviyaga Hills recreation center in Tatarstan, bringing together students from 16 countries and 17 regions of Russia. His presentation was dedicated to the key economic trends in Russia and in the world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vladimir Mau spoke about the problems and challenges faced by nations combatting an unseen enemy, the new coronavirus. The pandemic became an external shock akin to the war for every country’s social and economic system, triggering and catalyzing the changes that had accumulated before its start, including for reason of fast development of technology innovations. Vladimir Mau says today’s crisis is not purely an economic setback: we are dealing with the social and economic consequences of a larger phenomenon, which has an impact on all sectors of the society. In this complex environment, national governments face the challenge of combatting the new coronavirus infection, developing new “weapons” (vaccines and new medicines) and trying to predict the behavior of the “enemy” through in-depth scientific research. States were forced to make hard choices between saving the economy and preventing human casualties (with economic collapse itself threatening human survival), infrastructure or institutions.
The government’s increasing intervention in the economy is one of the key global trends of the day, with the pandemic being merely a catalyst of the ongoing processes related to rapid technology development. In a situation of constantly increasing technological uncertainty, which disrupts the development of the society, the state has to compensate the uncertainty and take the lead in reducing the risks of social destabilization. In addition, the state must assume the roles of “investor of last resort” and “insurer of last resort”, i.e., supporting investment activity when the interest in private investment is low, and providing and financing the necessary healthcare response, providing compensations to vulnerable families and supporting citizens who had lost their jobs to the crisis.
Speaking about the impact of the crisis on higher education, Vladimir Mau noted that even if the pandemic would go away in an instant, the world would not go back to the old, traditional ways of education. “Now that we know what distance learning is, we can see it works better than the traditional formats in some cases,” the rector says. “This does not mean that all education will move to distance learning, but the structural changes stirred by the pandemic are already taking place, and the disease has only accelerated these changes. Of course, socialization and other benefits of face-to-face formats are important to students, but in terms of educational outcome, it is better to listen to online lectures taught by a good professor than to attend a face-to-face class by a bad instructor.”
Answering the question about the role of modern educational platforms and competition between them and the Universities, the rector noted that RANEPA has a long and active history of cooperation with the top-ranking platforms. “If a person chooses between a university and an online course, it is a matter of personal educational strategy,” Vladimir Mau stressed. “Some prefer to get a fundamental education, others choose to quickly build individual skills required for a particular position. Online education platforms are not the only competitors to universities today: many young people choose to go to colleges at the end of ninth grade – although some of them still attend university afterwards. It is important to understand that good education will never be easy or cheap. It is not about money: in order to get results, you have to invest all your energy and time in training.”
At the end of his lecture, Vladimir Mau answered questions from the Campus participants concerning the growth of inequality in the world, social and economic support measures for people and businesses, the role of cryptocurrencies in growing economies and new models of economic growth after the pandemic.