Professor Potier: I'm not sure that I am the best person to ask because I've lived outside the UK permanently for the last 23 years. I think that Russia does its best in the UK. The country's reputation has been damaged in recent years because it has been seeing London as mainly a financial center in which a lot of not particularly clean people and money have found their way to the UK. I think that has damaged the image of Russia, which is not to its advantage. As far as your question on soft power is concerned, of course, with London being one of the main capitals of the world there are many diplomats and diplomatic missions fighting for attention in the capital. It is hard therefore for any individual presence to make a particular impression.
PICREADI: Given that you are now a professor at MGIMO, what do you view to be the most fundamental differences between Russian and Western education systems? Do you believe that the Russian education system has any advantages over the Western education system in terms of preparing students for the workforce?
Professor Potier: I have worked for two British universities. I've been a dean of one of them, holding a senior management position, so I've been at the very top of one of those universities. I think that there are good points and negative points on both sides. To illustrate, one of the things I like about the Russian university system, and I'm sure here (MGIMO) is reflective of other Russian universities, is that there is a much greater emphasis on oral exams, which I think is a good thing. In the UK university sector, I won't say that we don't have them, we do, but hardly. So, that is one very good thing. I also think that the standard of education is extremely high, certainly at this university, and comparable to some of the most elite universities in the UK.
Is there an area where British universities are ahead of Russian universities? I think the regulatory framework, speaking as a former senior manager, is much better defined in the UK than it is here. I think that that is to the advantage of UK universities. Sometimes, you need some rules in order to then be in a better place to say yes or no to certain things. I'm not saying those don't exist; they do. Mind you, if anything, British universities are becoming overregulated.
Conducted by Alexandro Granata, PICREADI intern