By Jamil Salmi. A study of recent university mergers in Russia confirms some of the findings presented in my 2009 book “The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities” about the difficulties of constructing top institutions following the merger approach.  Igor Chirikov, senior researcher at the Moscow School of Economics, reports that the various programs of excellence launched by the Russian government since 2005, which “encouraged” many universities to merge, have achieved mixed results. For the past 7 years, the Russian government has actively sought ways of enhancing the performance and contribution of its leading universities.  It initiated the Federal University program in 2005, followed by the Innovative University program in 2006, and the National Research University program in 2009.  In many cases, setting up the new federal universities involved mergers. Read more...