Make Your Future Today: Elite Education at SUSU

Starting from 2015 a system of elite education is being implemented at SUSU. This system is intended for those students who think about their future careers, and are willing to make efforts and spend their time to form basis for their future already now.

At present elite training for students is available at 8 divisions of our University: Institute of Architecture and Construction, School of Medical Biology, School of Economics and Management, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Institute of Linguistics and International Communication, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Polytechnic Institute and Institute of Law. SUSU Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Andrei Radionov supervises this system, and the Center of Elite Education works directly with students.

What is the SUSU system of elite education in essence? What does it comprise?

Within education programs, to which a big number of candidates with high level of school training enroll, separate groups of elite training are formed (academic elite groups). The elite education programs offered for these groups consist of the basic education program and special additional elective disciplines normally not studied by ordinary students. Such training is fulfilled at the Institute of Architecture and Construction, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and at the Institute of Law.

At the School of Medical Biology, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Institute of Linguistics and International Communication, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, and at the Polytechnic Institute elite education is fulfilled in a different way. “Elite” students of these groups attend their usual academic studies and also take additional studies in elite groups. Separate elite groups here include students from not only one but several related programs (specialities). For instance, in the Polytechnic Institute such multi-speciality elite groups are created based on separate faculties.

However, training for the elite students is only part of work. The main goal of this elite education is to make graduates competitive, so that any employer, any enterprise, or any company were happy to employ them.

To achieve this, already freshman students of the elite programs visit the enterprises and companies of the most promising employers. If any such enterprise becomes favourite with a sufficiently big number of students, the University starts working with it.

First, the Center representatives try to find out what kind of graduates with what characteristics might be of special interest to the company. What knowledge and skills our graduates must have to be able to successfully start their careers at this enterprise. After that jointly with the enterprise specialists our Center develops relevant courses at which students interested in working in this company undergo their training.

Moreover, the Center representatives arrange agreements with the enterprise for our elite students to take internship namely at this enterprise, so that they could understand the enterprise’s organization and working principles already at the early stage.

The most important part of the elite students’ collaboration with their future place of work is performing projects on solving actual problems of the enterprise. This work is performed by the group of elite students under guidance of the leading specialists of the enterprise and our University. If the group shows good performance, the grants may be included into the agreement, so that students could be paid salaries for their work.

Such activity is characteristic of the senior years of studies, when students are already being trained for their speciality disciplines. The first and second years of studies aim at providing students with fundamental base, make them creative people capable of using their knowledge in all fields of their activities, and knowing exactly how to do it.

For instance, during their first years of studies students of engineering programs study such disciplines as mathematics, computer science and physics. Mathematics is the most important and difficult one of those. That is why during the first year of studies of these students elite training focuses on mathematical disciplines. For example, on selected sections of advanced mathematics. Here certain sections of mathematics are being studied which are normally not covered at ordinary classes, but they will be helpful for these students, will raise their level of knowledge and broaden their worldview.

Another example is mathematical models. It is applying of mathematics to non-mathematical fields of science and engineering. People with the skills of mathematical modeling have huge advantage as compared to others. For instance, when there is a need to improve some mechanism or process. Normally, a series of expensive tests is carried out for that, as well as different variants of such mechanisms are designed, and finally, an optimal variant is found, or a conclusion is made that there is nothing that could be done at all. People knowing how to do mathematical modeling would choose a different path. They would convert all the processes and interconnections in the object under consideration into mathematical formulas, would compose a set of equations, find a method of solving them, and would write a computer program. After that they would input various source data to computer see what comes out of it. They would select the optimal variant and test only this variant on the actual objects. The problem is solved, and instead of several years only a few months are spent on it. Mathematical modeling is a very promising discipline.

The third discipline taught to the elite students of the first years of studies is the fundamental and speciality disciplines in English. Students must be able to understand international professional literature and communicate with foreign specialists on the profession-related issues, and deliver presentations at international conferences. Meanwhile, special attention is paid to listening and speaking skills. Elite graduates will probably often go abroad as representatives of their companies or in order to solve some production issues. So they must know how to hold negotiations on the professional issues, understand their interlocutors, and know how to put their own thoughts into words. The easiest way is to start such professional language training on the basis of mathematics and physics since these have clear professional terminology and use simple grammar. At classes students watch videos on relevant lecture topics by one of the best professors of the leading universities of the USA and England. After that they look up the unfamiliar words they heard in this lecture. Then they study the lecture text, so that in the end not one moment or word remains unclear. After that they listen to the lecture once again, but in short bits this time, trying to recognize every word and expression; repeat passages in English trying to pronounce everything properly; and translate abstracts. At the next class students deliver their presentations on the topic of the studied lecture.

Students may attend any classes of the system of elite education. Here are some of the offered courses:

  • Theory of Inventive Problem Solving – a very helpful and interesting discipline training outside-the-box thinking and ability to find new solutions to a problem;
  • Conflictology – a discipline very important for the future bosses, it teaches how to resolve any conflict;
  • Fundamentals of Self-management and Career Planning;
  • Contemporary Technologies of Public Opinion Management in the Context of International Communication;
  • Entrepreneurial Law;
  • Russian Language Stylistics;
  • Workshop on Written Business Texts and Research Media Texts;
  • New Information Technologies in Translation;
  • School for Academic Competition Programming;
  • Artificial Neural Networks;
  • Introduction to Computer Vision, and others.

Every elite student may attend lectures and practical classes under any of these courses as an addition to his/her elite training.

Once the elite groups’ students complete their studies, besides a standard Diploma they are awarded with the Diploma on Elite Training of South Ural State University. Moreover, the taken additional courses are added to the standard Diploma’s Transcript.

How does the SUSU elite training system function? How are its elements interconnected?

Here we should point out the external and internal connections of our University. The external connections include relations with employers. This work is mostly handled by the directors of the schools and institutes and faculty deans, and is guided by Andrei Radionov. The Center for Elite Education is also involved in it. For each enterprise of interest their demand for staff is enquired about, a list is developed regarding knowledge and skills which the graduates must have in order to be in demand at the enterprise and have a successful career. Agreements are concluded on practical training and internship for students at the enterprise. We try to find out what problems or bottleneck spots the enterprises have, as well as whether among them there may be problems which could be solved by the elite students under guidance of the Center specialists, and in this case agreements are signed with the enterprises on project activities of the elite students financed by the enterprises.

Then the divisions’ work follows. Having obtained the list of knowledge and competences required for a certain enterprise, the leading specialists of a relevant school or institution jointly with the representatives of the enterprise and the Center for Elite Education prepare programs of special disciplines required by this enterprise. These get approved by an Institute Council and the speciality vice rector, and are handed to the Center for Elite Education to be executed. The Center as recommended by the Institute selects lecturers, signs agreements with them on reading the course lectures, and coordinates schedules.

In case project activities need to be performed, an Institute Board of Directors selects a leading specialist on the issue of the project and appoints him/her the supervisor. This person agrees with the enterprise on the technical task, terms of financing, grants for students’ salaries, and other details. After that the project supervisor jointly with the Institute’s Deputy Director for Elite Training and the Center for Elite Education appoints a project group of the most suitable elite students, and the work begins. These students constantly visit the enterprise and meet its top managers. Once they graduate from the University, their chances of making a successful career at the enterprise are very high.

The Center for Elite Education plays major role in the University’s internal connections. It performs coordination and fulfillment of the general policy and concept of elite training in all the University divisions.

Its functions include:

  • Rendering the required methodical and information support to the divisions regarding elite education;
  • Jointly with the heads of relevant divisions, participating in the process of preparing programs on the additional academic disciplines;
  • Regularly holding of meetings with the people in charge of elite training in the divisions;
  • Performing studies-and-discipline work with the students of elite groups;
  • Covering of the elite groups’ work by the mass media, the University web-site, and social networks;
  • Organizing studies in multi-speciality elite groups, including assistance to the divisions in forming the groups of the elite students, selecting professors for the elite training groups, drawing up class schedule not clashing with the basic studies’ schedule, controlling the holding of classes for the elite groups, and organizing consultations on the studied courses.

How do you enroll in the elite training groups?

The elite academic groups (for the Institute of Architecture and Construction, School of Economics and Management, Institute of Law) are formed during enrollment to the University among the candidate with the highest scores.

The multi-speciality elite groups (for the Polytechnic Institute, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, School of Medical Biology, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Institute of Linguistics and International Communication) are formed in the beginning of the second semester among the students who passed their first exams well. Meanwhile, not only their marks are taken into account, but first and foremost, their level of interestedness. Only those students get invited who are willing to work hard now for their future successful careers and wellbeing.

If this is the thing for you, if you wish to receive elite education, you need to contact the head of the department you are studying at, or to your dean, or your Institute’s director or deputy director for elite training, and file an application. After that you need to attend a meeting with the elite groups’ candidates organized by your Institute’s Board of Directors or your faculty Dean’s Office jointly with the Center for Elite Education, and to register for an elite group. Classes start in the second half of February.

Ekaterina Kuznetsova
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