Economists of the New Generation to Be Trained at the B.N. Khristenko Laboratories of Active Teaching Methods

On the occasion of the Knowledge Day, South Ural State University opened new laboratories: Financial Technology in Business, and Teaching Bank. The new educational spaces of the SUSU School of Economics and Management are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and aim at students’ mastering economic competences in an interactive mode.

Keeping up the SUSU’s Traditions while Using Modern Technology

The laboratories became part of the B.N. Khristenko Laboratory Complex of Active Teaching Methods. Boris Khristenko, an alumnus of the Engineering and Construction Institute of Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute (now SUSU), later worked in his Alma Mater and became a pioneer in using active teaching methods in the USSR implementing them in the university’s educational process. In 1979 became the head of the-first-in-the-USSR laboratory of business games.

“The education system is constantly changing, but the active teaching methods (when students not only attend lectures and participate in seminars, but also do work on their own, make their decisions and model situations) are extremely important for improving the quality of education. This year, Boris Khristenko would have celebrated his 100th birthday anniversary, and we believe it to be important to continue and develop the work he started back in the times when the university was called Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute. Here, students will be able to work with multiple databases and software used in the financial sphere and businesses. Thanks to their practicing at these laboratories, students will be better trained to working in real conditions and will be more competitive,” noted SUSU Rector Aleksandr Shestakov.

The son of Boris Khristenko, also an alumnus of Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute, President of the Business Council of the Eurasian Economic Union, Chairman of the university’s Supervisory Council Viktor Khristenko took part in opening ceremony.

“SUSU is constantly searching for the ways how to best meet the challenges of the labour market. The university managed to build a system, which is ready to constantly improve,” stressed Viktor Khristenko. “Speaking of the laboratories, we need to stress that students who graduate from the university must have certain skills. And to obtain those, they need quality training on real models, tied to functioning commercial, financial and other institutions, the organization of the activity of which is best understood in the format of such active training.”

Training Financial and Economics Experts in Real-Production Conditions

The main tasks of interactive educational platforms is to close the gap between the theoretical knowledge and its use on practice during training specialists in the sphere of finances.

“In the Financial Technology in Business Laboratory students will be able to use real statistical bases to compile financial reports and forecast the development of a certain enterprise. The Teaching Bank is a bank division, where students will be studying the work of employees in all bank departments, and working in real software products operated in the leading banks in our region,” shared Director of the SUSU School of Economics and Management Irina Saveleva.

The Financial Technology in Business Laboratory was organized as an information and technology platform for training specialists in the conditions of global digitalization. It is an open space type of room with working places, which can be used by students of any level of training: Bachelor’s, Master’s students and postgraduates; as well as by teachers. The laboratory is equipped with modern reference-information systems: SPARK software, which is a statistical and analytical-reporting database of the Russian Federation enterprises; Cbonds software is a database of bond data emitters, quotations and transactions in the bond market.

The Teaching Bank was created as an imitation model of a real bank, where students can study the work of specialists of financial and credit institutions. It comprises: credit granting offices, transactions and cash services office, deposits office, exchange operations office, securities operations office, and a cash desk. The laboratory is in command of devices for identification of monetary symbols, weight instruments and a set of weights, coin and banknotes counting machines, ATM, cash-in-transit- bags, and more. All the laboratory’s working places operate a training version of a specialized АВС software developed by ProgramBank, which is used in about 70 banks throughout Russia. The program allows to make automated all banking operations typical of a business day, and includes a clients’ database: data on legal entities and private individuals, information on current accounts, credits, and deposits.

It is important that analytical bases of the laboratories can be used not only by students and academics staff of the School of Economics and Management, but also by other SUSU’s educational subdivisions. Thus, for instance, the future legal experts can master the legal aspects of credit, deposit or other operations. Here, events can be held, which aim at improving the financial literacy of the population, within the frameworks of the collaboration agreement signed between SUSU and the Bank of Russia in March of 2019. The new laboratory makes it possible to organize training of volunteers and teachers in the field financial literacy.

New Prospects of Collaboration with the Leading Banks of Our Region

The opening of the Financial Technology in Business Laboratory and the Teaching Bank became possible thanks to the collaboration with the leading banks in the Chelyabinsk Region, which are long-time partners of the university. The Chelyabinsk Division of Sberbank, VTB Bank for the Chelyabinsk and Kurgan Regions, and the Chelyabinsk Regional Branch of Russian Agricultural Bank provided SUSU with specialized equipment for the laboratories.

According to the top managers of the regional divisions of these banks, their collaboration with SUSU in training specialists is a contribution to the future of the economical and financial spheres. For many years now, they have been interacting with the university not only in terms of improvement of its material and technical resources for training students, but also with regard to fulfilling different projects helping the future bank employees adopt the experience of experts.

Top Manager of the Chelyabinsk Division of Sberbank Denis Chugunov“We’ve been collaborating with SUSU for a very long time now. In the course of the recent years, we’ve been fulfilling a number of interesting projects. First, it is the Teaching by Doing project, when our young supervisors include senior-year SUSU students on their teams. Students learn the banking processes, suggest recommendations on improving them, and handle real cases in the field of business and financial services for the population. Also, quite recently, together with the university, we’ve opened a special training group on Project Management. Senior-year students have already joined this group. As teachers of this group we appoint our supervisors from various fields (risk management, digitalization, compliance, and more), in which Sberbank is actively developing and probably acting as an innovator here. Our specialists teach students and share with them on how these important-for-modern-bank processes are organized. We’re also pleased to support the opening of the new laboratory and the Teaching Bank. This is a wonderful project, and one of its pluses is the use of gamification, what allows to train ready-made specialists, and significantly improves the financial literacy as well.”

Eduard Gromov, Top Manager of the VTB Bank for the Chelyabinsk and Kurgan Regions especially noted the role of the Teaching Bank in improving the financial literacy of the population. People at large, including youth, international students, and retired citizens face difficulties with regard to financial operations, so banks are interested in solving this problem.

“We see that SUSU graduates are in demand in the labour market and we always contribute to make their qualifications high. Back in the year of 2016, we organized a VTB banking school with a course of 40 academic hours. The trainees included 38 people, and 20 of them got employed by banks. The opening of the laboratory is an important event, as this is exactly the format of training that’s been awaited for. Theory must always come together with practice. It’s great that the laboratory features the main bank offices, which will be of help for both students and citizens, as it is possible to perform work on banking services here and improving the financial literacy as well. We will continue our collaboration with the university and will render our support.”

Lyudmila Popova, Director of the Chelyabinsk Regional Branch of Russian Agricultural Bank expressed her opinion that more of such training spaces for students should be created and suggested that the university joins the bank’s new project scheduled to be launched in 2020.

“We’re very happy to organize internships for students and offer them jobs further on. We have employed many of the SUSU graduates, who are successfully building their careers in the bank. To the extent possible, we help fit the university with the equipment, so that students could operate banking machinery, understood the principles of its work, and could master it already while still studying at the university. We addressed the bank’s Head Office with the initiative on organizing a contact centre in Chelyabinsk. This is also a training platform for students, where they can obtain the skills of working with clients, sales skills, and skills of providing knowledgeable consultations. This project will be organized next summer, and we’re inviting SUSU to participate in it.”

Currently, 4 interactive laboratories are functioning at the School of Economics and Management. Besides the Financial Technology in Business Laboratory and the Teaching Bank, it features the Laboratory of Accounting, Analysis and Audit, and the Centre of Business Development Technologies (Lean Manufacturing).

Azaliya Sharafutdinova, photo by: Oleg Igoshin
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