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Academic or non-academic career: what choice do graduates of federal universities make?

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 03-01-2020
TERRA ECONOMICUS. 2019.  Т. 17. № 4. С. 148-173. 
The paper deals with the choice of career strategies by recent graduates and the forces affecting it. Our research interests stem from the evidence showing a continuous decrease in the number of the postgraduate and doctoral thesis defences in Russia, a decline in the quality of training programs for highly qualified personnel, as well as the new standards for postgraduate and doctoral education which imply the optionality of the thesis defence. The theoretical and conceptual framework of the study relies upon the approaches of Russian and foreign researchers to the problem of human capital reproduction in higher education. Sample survey data were collected through questionnaires to gather information from the respondents – 1429 graduate students from 5 federal universities: Kazan (Volga region) Federal University, Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M. V. Lomonosov, North-Caucasus Federal University, Siberian Federal University, Southern Federal University. Data analysis helped to identify the portrait of the Russian graduate student characterized by traits such as the motivational value of the career path, employment, importance of defending the thesis, plans after graduation, motives and incentives that are important in the workplace, factors that affect student retention in higher education. Four clusters were identified and compared with each other through the k-means clustering (relying on the respondents’ opinions on the «motivation for entering postgraduate programs»). Overall, our findings suggest four career strategies in the academic and non-academic labor markets as follows: researcher/freelance researcher; a strategy of academic inbreeding; a strategy of «undecided»; and that of the inbreeding careerist. Meanwhile, several features exist, which are common for all postgraduates, including the research activity as one of the highest priorities, the most important life goals, work motivation, and importance of the financial component.
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