Methods of Working with Talented Students at the Moscow State University

The strategy for detecting and developing young talents is determined by the Conception of the Nation-wide System for the Detection and Development of Young Talents approved on April 3, 2012.

Our country achieved outstanding results in the area of detection and systematic support of talented young people of the school age. Multiple All-Russian Olympiads for school pupils are conducted on a large scale in 22 subjects. Under the aegis of the Russian Council for the Olympiads among School Pupils, higher education institutions organize Olympiads for school pupils in general education subjects. 77 Olympiads have been conducted in the 2013/2014 school year.

There is more coordination needed for efforts in searching for talents in student circles. This need is determined by the general strategic objective of avoiding “brain drain” away from Russia as well as some tasks of a tactical kind, e.g. efficient management, creation of a single database on talented students, ranking of intellectual competitions, etc.

While delivering presidential awards for 2013 in the areas of science and innovations to young scientists on February 11 (2014), the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has highlighted: “We will continue raising new science leaders and creating better working conditions for strong science teams and the most talented (especially young) scientists in order for Russia to become an interesting and prestigious place for scientific activities. I am convinced that we can entrust young people with rather complex, very complex projects and we have to promote them to key positions in science with more courage.”

Student Olympiads and other intellectual forms of working with gifted students were actively conducted in our country in the 1970s and 1980s. Moreover, educational textbooks were issued to facilitate the preparation for these events whose best performing students were successfully representing the country at international student Olympiads. In the 1990s this work was limited by the framework of individual higher education institutions.

Nowadays we have to rethink the achieved results and move to a new level of understanding of this problem. Moscow State University is actively using various mechanisms for working with talented students, including Universiades, Olympiads and tournaments, scientific conferences and forums, science reading sessions, seminars and debates, research paper competitions, summer and winter science schools (including out-of-campus events), and round tables. Such modern forms of involving students in science activities as online competitions and festivals, role plays, championships and pre-moots have also gained popularity.

Thus, a large-scale Universiade movement has been developing since 2012. Universiade is an intellectual competition of students from higher education institutions of the Russian Federation and foreign countries. The purpose of a Universiade is to detect and support talented students, to develop their creative capabilities, to stimulate independent scientific research of students in those innovative study areas which have a strategic importance, to facilitate professional growth of gifted students, to select students for participation in international Olympiads and competitions, to strengthen connections among higher education institutions of Moscow and the leading higher education institutions of Russia and overseas countries, and to restore educational and scientific links that existed on the territory of the former USSR. Lomonosov Moscow State University organized 5international Universiades in the 2013/2014 school year.

From November 22 to November 24 (2014), the Faculty of Biology and the Centre for National Intellectual Reserve of the MSU organized the Third International Universiade in Biology. Participants of the 2014 Universiade included 29 teams from 23 higher education institutions of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. While evaluating reports presented during the regular round of the Universiade, members of the Jury put a particular emphasis on the relevance of a given problem, the originality of its solution, and the practical applicability of the obtained results.

In November and December 2013, the Second International Universiade in Mechanics and Strategic Information Technologies was held at the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics. The problems offered to participants of the Universiade encompassed the most important directions in science, namely, mathematic modeling, programming, information technologies, etc. Several nominations have been set for winners of the in-absentia round of the Universiade: “Mathematic Modeling Champion”, “The Hope of the Gas Dynamics”, “World Class Programmer”, “The Best Fresher”, “The Best Sophomore”, and “The Absolute Champion.”

The selection and final rounds of the Second International Universiade in Fundamental Medicine were held from November 18, 2013 to April 20, 2014. Participants of this Universiade included students of the 3rd to 6th years of higher education institutions specialized in medicine. All participants of the regular round of the Universiade were awarded honorary certificates. Ten finalists were awarded the Universiade diplomas and medals.

On February 4-10, 2014, the Faculty of Educational Studies organized the III International Team Olympiad-Universiade in Pedagogy. The main objective of this intellectual competition is to help current and future teachers to shape teamwork skills as well as the ability to collaborate within a pedagogic community. This year more than 50 participants from all over Russia and the near abroad joined the event.

On April 18-20, 2014, the Third International Student Universiade in Econometrics was held at the Faculty of Economics of the Lomonosov MSU. Twenty-one teams of young econometricians in their 3rd and 4th study years from Russia and abroad competed for the title of the econometrics champion. The Universiade was opened by the first Deputy Governor of the Central Bank K. Yudaeva, who graduated from the MSU Faculty of Economics, and the Dean of the Faculty of Economics A. Auzan.

Moreover, in collaboration with the Institute of Asian and African Studies, the First Universiade in Regional Geography took place in 2012. Other events held in 2012 are listed as follows (organizing bodies are included in parentheses): First Universiade in Area Studies (Faculty of Foreign Languages and Area Studies), Second Universiade in Mathematics (Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics), the Universiade in Programming (Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics in collaboration with Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics), Universiade in Geology (Faculty of Geology), Universiade in Geomorphology (Faculty of Geography).

On November 19-22, 2013, the All-Russian Student Olympiad in Political Science took place at the Moscow State University. This Olympiad is included in the “List of Student Olympiads of the Russian Federation” and was organized by the MSU Faculty of Political Science and the Association of Employers in the Area of Professional Politics. This event is aimed at raising students’ interest towards political science and detecting gifted young people. This year’s Olympiad welcomed 100 participants representing political science students from 30 higher education institutions of Russia.

MSU hosts a large number of Olympiads in mathematics and programming. Examples include 13thKolmogorov Student Olympiad in Probability Theory (April 19, 2014), V Olympiad in “Extremal Problems” (April 21, 2014), Olympiad in Geometry and Topology (March 3, 2014), Olympiad in Geometry for Students of the Beginning Years (November 25, 2013), Moscow Student Team Olympiad in Programming, etc.

On May 19, 2013, the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics hosted the III Universiade in Mathematics which was attended by 40 student participants from Lomonosov MSU (the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics and the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and Saint Petersburg State University. The Universiade in Mathematics is an intellectual competition for mathematics students of the 1st to 4th school years from Russian higher education institutions. One of the objectives pursued by the Universiade organizers is selecting participants for the International Mathematics Competition (IMC) which was held in Bulgaria from August 6 to August 12, 2014. According to the IMC admission rules, students in their advanced years of studies are not admitted to participate. Moreover, competition assignments and their solutions should be designed in English language. The IMC organizers note that such competitions help students in finalizing their choice of specialization and stimulate their interest towards the most relevant and complex areas of modern mathematics.

In October 2013, Moscow State University and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology hosted Moscow Regional Quarterfinal of the World Championship in Programming for student teams. The organization committee of the quarterfinal competition of Moscow sub-region was headed by Viktor Sadovnichy, the Rector of the Moscow State University and the Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

On November 26, 2013, the final of the Championship in Programming and Robotics among Higher Education Institutions was held in the form of an exhibition.

In November 2013, the International Student Championship in Corporate Finance entitled “The Growth Driver” has started. This event gives students a unique opportunity to demonstrate the skills that they have developed in the area of corporate finance by solving real-life case studies and discussing their ideas and suggestions with industry professionals as well as to improve their public presentation skills. Finally, this championship gives students a chance to get employed at a large company.

From December 13, 2013 to March 16, 2014, the Faculty of Law of the Lomonosov MSU hosted the First All-Russian Student Olympiad in the History of the Native State and Law for first year students ( The aim of the Olympiad was to get students engaged in in-depth studies of the history of the native state and law. Only justified answers using references to legal documentation of a given era were considered as an acceptable answer to questions which varied in their level of difficulty. Other ways to justify answers included the use of scientific literature and situations which are familiar to participants from works of art and literature. The answer that used the maximum possible number of references got the highest mark.

On January 23-25, 2014, the Institute of Asian and African Studies has hosted an International Olympiad in Persian Language. 35 students from the following higher education institutions of Moscow participated in the event: Institute of Asian and African Studies (IAAS, MSU), Moscow State Linguistic University, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. In addition, students from universities in Astrakhan, Ufa, Makhachkala, Kazan, Novosibirsk and Saint Petersburg took part in the competition. The Olympiad was honored by the presence of Dr Mehdi Sanai, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Dr Sanai has already visited the host building multiple times, since in the early 2000s he acted as the Head of the Culture Representative Office and contributed to the organization of the first Olympiad in Persian Language and Literature that took place in the same location.

This Olympiad has already been held 10 times”, noted Mister Ambassador, “but similarly to the ghazals of Hafiz which do not lose their charm from uncountable repetitions, this Olympiad opens up new horizons for us each time.” The Director of the MSU IAAS, Professor Igor Abilgaziev, thanked the Embassy of Iran and its Culture Representative Office for helping the Institute in organizing the Olympiad. Professor Abilgaziev added that there are no losers at the Olympiad because it is a celebration of knowledge and an opportunity to interact with like-minded people. All participants were awarded honorary certificates.

On January 28-31, 2014, the MSU Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics organized the Youth Space School and the selection round of the Third Russian Championship Project entitled “CanSat.” Over one hundred school pupils and students in their beginning years of study participated in the event by representing Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Yakutia, Chuvashia, Arkhangelsk, Plesetsk, Samara, Kaluga, and the Republic of Belarus. Participants attended lectures on space physics and microcosm physics, accomplished laboratory tasks and took part in master classes.

During the same period, teams of students and school pupils defended their projects in the selection round of the championship “CanSat in Russia” dedicated to the creation and launch of micro satellites. Teams selected during this competition will create and launch micro satellites this summer during the final of the Third Russian Championship to be held in Dubna and Taldom region of Moscow Oblast.

On April 23-27, 2014, the Faculty of Chemistry hosted the International Student Forum “ChemCamp 2014.” This forum provided undergraduate and postgraduate students with the opportunity to show their potential in various fields of modern chemistry, including scientific chemistry and its applications in industry, business and careers.

On April 15-27, 2013, the Faculty of Physics and the MSU Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics jointly hosted the International Science School-Universiade for Young Participants entitled “Microworld and macroworld – 2013. Students from the Russian Federation, Belarus and Tajikistan contributed to the smooth running of the event. For the first time in its history, this science school included a competition component representing a Universiade. The Universiade was designed for verifying participants’ knowledge in relevant fields of physics through independent solutions to experimental problems in a non-standard setting. Another assignment set for participants of the School-Universiade was to accomplish laboratory tasks at the laboratories of general and special practicum of the MSU Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics.

A large number of students participate in science conferences which are organized by various faculties of the University and encompass a complete range of fundamental sciences. The largest science conference is the International Lomonosov Conference for Students, Postgraduates and Young Scientists, which takes place each year in April. It is worth noting that talented students participate in science reading groups and science seminars which are organized by faculties or individual departments. Such events assist students in their early professional orientation and help them in choosing a science area and a topic for future research.

In March – December 2014, the International Youth Science Forum “Lomonosov-2014” has started. This year’s Forum commemorates Dmitri Mendeleev’s 180th birthday anniversary.

From April 7 to April 11 (2014), the Lomonosov Moscow State University hosted the XXI International Lomonosov Conference of Students, Postgraduates and Young Scientists. The conference was run across 32 sections and over 330 sub-sections reflecting the main directions in modern science (both fundamental and applied). More detailed information can be viewed on the official website of the Conference:

On April 1-3, 2014, the Third Annual Inter-faculty Scientific and Practical Conference for Students was held in English language. Special attention was dedicated to currently important problems in political science and philosophy. 48 political science students in their 1st, 2nd and 3rd years of studies and 13 philosophy students in their 1st and 2nd years presented their papers at the Conference.

Round tables help students in developing the ability to discuss a problem in a group setting. Examples of student round tables include the round table entitled “Family in the Value System of Young People: Problems and Solution Ways” which was held at the Faculty of Psychology on March 18, 2014.

The Third Online Festival of Friendship entitled “I Would Learn Russian Just for …” is considered one of the newest and most promising forms of working with talented students. The Festival was organized in 2013 by the Faculty of Philology and benefited from the technical assistance by the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics. The Festival targets foreign students, postgraduates and interns who study Russian as a foreign or second language. The Festival representing a colorful Russian language feast was dedicated to the XXII Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi and took place in an interactive classroom “Tikhonov centre”. The Objective of the Festival is to popularize Russian language as a medium for international communication outside the Russian Federation and to develop creative capabilities of participants as well as to strengthen the links between Moscow University and its partner institutions in Russia, CIS and the far abroad. The most recent festival admitted foreign participating students from over 30 higher education institutions of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. 24 different countries were represented at the Festival.

The final round of this competition took the form of an online gala presentation entitled “The Dialogue of Cultures” that connected 11 higher education institutions from 10 cities (Elista, Vladimir, Volgograd, Voronezh, Kursk, Moscow, Saransk, Tomsk, Ufa, and Ulan-Bator). Moscow was represented by three institutions, namely, Lomonosov MSU, Russian Timiryazev State Agrarian University, and Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas. Videos of participant performances recorded during the final round of the Third Online Festival of Friendship can be viewed on the following website:

Out-of-campus winter and summer schools that are actively promoted by some faculties also represent a very interesting form of talent development. In January 2013, the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics organized a 10-day Winter Mathematics School on Probability Theory. From January 29 to February 9 (2014), MSU hosted the Winter Mathematics School for Students of the Mathematics Department of the North-Eastern Federal University.

Undergraduate students in their advanced years of studies, postgraduates and early career researchers under the age of 25 can take part in research (term) paper competitions. For example, the Faculty of Physics holds annually the Khokhlov Competition for the Best Student Research Paper.

From March 10 to May 30 (2014), the MSU Centre for National Intellectual Reserve, in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the MSU Faculty of Law, is organizing the All-Russian Competition of Science Research Papers entitled “Protecting Intellectual Property in Globalization Conditions: Russian and Overseas Experience.” The Competition welcomes applications from undergraduate and postgraduate law students representing the leading higher education institutions. The Competition assignment takes the form of teamwork on a project within a group whose size should not exceed 3 people. The Competition will contain 2 rounds and will end with a gala award ceremony held in Moscow to congratulate the teams of winners. For details visit the following link:

On April 8-11, 2014, the MSU Centre for National Intellectual Reserve contributed to organizing the conference entitled “Educational Telecommunication Technologies in the Curricula of Higher Education Institutions, Schools and Pre-school Educational Establishments.” This conference was dedicated to increasing the efficiency of companies and educational institutions that work in the area of electronic education and personnel management. In addition, it covered the application of national and international quality standards as well as new options in electronic education based on internet services, video conference communication, cloud technology, etc. The Conference event framework comprised a plenary session that gathered over 200 participants as well as the round table entitled “Mobile Information and Educational Technologies for the Bio-management and Ecology of the Brain” and the round table “Programs for Corporate Training of Specialists in the Area of Ecological Monitoring and Management of Land Resources.”

Other events include the exhibition “TOP-2014” whose participants include postgraduates and early career researchers from the Lomonosov MSU, other higher education institutions, corporations, and education service providers. In addition, participants could attend a multi-section session “Educational Telecommunication Technologies in Public Sector, Banks and Corporations” and the section “Young People in Science, Industry and Business: Centre for National Intellectual Reserve” which presented interesting and promising projects prepared by MSU graduates. The results of this event can be viewed on the official website of the conference “TOP-2014.”