A CENTER FOR ACADEMIC WRITING AT SOUTH URAL STATE UNIVERSITY: WHICH MODEL TO CHOOSE?
The «Project 5-100» initiated by the Ministry of Education of Russian Federation is aimed at the internationalization of leading Russian Universities at the global education market. In 2015 South Ural State University (Chelyabinsk) became part of the Project 5-100, which along with great opportunities posed a number of targets to be achieved to prove the efficiency of changes to be introduced into the education process. One of the targets is to increase the publication activity of the academic staff. Though, there are different models of the Centers of Academic Writing (CAWs) in the world, it is critical to define the basic principles and the areas for the integration of best practices of Russian and foreign universities.
The authors give an overview of the CAWs established in foreign and Russian universities, namely, Central European University (Budapest), Center of Academic English (Stockholm University), Center on Internationalization (Copenhagen University), Language Center (Cambridge University), CAW of HSE (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), CAW of MISIS (Moscow State University of Steel and Alloys, Russia) and compare their missions and functions in terms of target audience and outcomes for the universities.
After a thorough analysis of the CAWs’ activities the authors conclude that writing centers in Russia will currently develop with the aim of providing help for faculty in publishing their papers in international academic journals and do not embrace the help to undergraduates and postgraduates in their academic writing as it is done in foreign universities. The philosophy of Russian CAWs’ is based on the idea that students’ writing should remain the responsibility of university language programs, which need considerable improvement and involve academic writing methodology.
On the other hand, writing centers in Russian universities have proved to be true laboratories for scholarly communications as tasks they have to solve are conceptually different from those of overseas universities and the aims they attempt to reach are by far more challenging. One of such aims is to provide university researchers with expert help in order to develop their professional competencies so that they could significantly improve their publication outcomes and, as a consequence, succeed in the global academic community.
The authors assume that to create a CAW at South Ural Stat University a hybrid model should be chosen based on the principles of parity of esteem (writing skills both in Russian and English should be developed), continuity, learning by doing, self-reflection, quality assurance, peer learning.
The future of writing centers is viewed as a tool in overcoming disciplinary and institutional borders and leading to the internationalization of Russian higher education. The authors recommend that both academic writing and writing for publication should be delivered in both English and Russian, thus covering a much wider audience of students and faculty.