April 21 saw M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University hosting the international workshop «Internationalization as the Way towards University Excellence».
Hosted as part of Aurora I and II — Towards Modern and Innovative Higher Education — projects under the EC-supported Erasmus Mundus, the workshop was participated by Head of European Union’s Delegation in Russia Vygaudas Ušackas, Kolarctic ENPI CBC Programme 2007-2013 Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Branch Office Manager Julia Korshunova, NArFU, representatives of Russian universities and European universities, project- partners from 9 countries. The experts have gathered to share the best practices they have achieved in promoting the education sector and participating in the EU programs. Their agenda also included network cooperation between European North-based universities.
We are greatly honoured to host this landmark event at Northern (Arctic) Federal University. NArFU is swifty developing as an international university. Our partnerships with universities and research organizations seek to foster network cooperation, joint programs, academic mobility, research and projects, noted NArFU Acting Rector Natalia Chicherina in her welcome address.
Another welcome address was received from RF Deputy Minister for Education and Research Aleksandr Klimov and was read aloud by NArFU Vice-Rector for International Cooperation Marina Kalinina in the opening session. Underlining the importance of internationalization as of a process designed to add to Russia’s higher education competitive power on the international arena, the Deputy Minister congratulated all the attendees on the workshop start.
In his welcome speech, Head of European Union’s Delegation in Russia Vygaudas Ušackas referred to recent aggravation in the EU-Russia relations, adding that Russia still remains Europe’s neighbour and important partner and that the political fluctuations are unlikely to have any major effect on the ongoing academic cooperation. Additional funding — ca. EUR 12 mln — will be allocated by the EU this year for EU-Russia academic cooperation purposes. Vygaudas Ušackas referred to internationalization of higher education as «not merely important but essential line of work and a criterion to judge the performance and extent to which a university has penetrated global market.»
The keynote part of the workshop involved a set of presentations highlighting the EU-Russia cooperation, as well as efforts to streamline the higher education system.
NArFU Vice-Rector for International Cooperation Marina Kalinina delivered her plenary presentation about the network cooperation in the North, which offered insight into what the internationalization process is challenged by, as well as the political framework, institutional mechanisms and network resources available for academic development.
Politically, the university cooperation in the North is evolving within the three main formats — Arctic Council, Barents Euro-Arctic Council and Northern Dimension. The network consortia such as the UArctic and the BEAC Joint Working Group on Education and Research, where NArFU acts as an active member, can be referred to as successful multilateral cooperation venues.
Internationalization is not so much about cooperation among countries as it is about cooperation among cultures. To the foreground comes the regional context. And if we are talking about the Arctic-related priorities, it’s important that we create the educational centers able to meet the national priorities and foster the cross-border collaboration, said Marina Rudolfovna.
The Aurora, Aurora II and Triple I partner universities spent the second half of the day sharing their best practices. The EU Delegation to Russia has also made a tour around NArFU Scientific Library and its Centre of Excellence. Their attention was mostly attracted to the Resource Centre for Inclusive Education, a product of the EU’s Kolarctic-supported project School For All.
Vygaudas Ušackas noted the practical value of the European Union’s endeavour to invest in education for learners with special needs. Other sites visited by the EU ambassador within the library included the Arctic Fund and the Museum of Engaging Sciences.
Arkhangelsk is home to an advanced center that meets the European standards and is very student-friendly, underlined Vygaudas Ušackas.
The guest has also shared his impressions of Arkhangelsk: It is a beautiful place. I was reminded that Arkhangelsk became Russia’s first ‘window to Europe’. You walk these beautiful streets, the embankment, you see these buildings and feel the city’s history permeated with the spirit of ancient Europe-Russia relations, said Vygaudas Ušackas.