The 14th of December witnessed the signing of the Cooperation Agreement between the Northern (Arctic) Federal University and the University of Tromsø — The Arctic University of Norway. Due to the new coronavirus restrictions, the signing ceremony had to be moved online.
Present at the ceremony was Elena Kudryashova, Rector at M.V. Lomonosov NArFU; Dag Rune Olsen, Rector at the Arctic University of Norway; Konstantin Zaikov, NArFU Vice-Rector for International Cooperation; Emeritus Professors Anne Husebekk, and Jens Petter Nielsen; as well as researchers who participated in exchange programs between NArFU and UiT — The Arctic University of Norway.
The history of the cooperative ties between the two universities began more than 28 years ago, when the first agreement on the exchange of students, faculty and research staff was entered into by the University of Tromsø and the Pomor State University in 1993. In that year, the parties set up, in Arkhangelsk, the Norwegian-Pomor University Center. That center acted as a platform for the development of academic cooperation, organizing those early student exchange programs, experience exchange venues, visits of official guests, and hosting the Library of Nordic Literature.
The University of Tromsø was one of the first universities with which the newly created M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University (established in 2010) entered into the cooperation agreement, witnessed by the governors of Arkhangelsk and Troms County. Since 2010, the sister universities have been successfully implementing their innovative partnership. Today, they continue to play an important role as promoters of sustainable development in the northern areas of Russia and Norway.
«Our cooperation has been always ongoing. Over these years, we have jointly implemented more than 100 academic and research projects,» Elena Kudryashova, Rector at NArFU, said in her welcome speech. «Being the Arctic universities, we are witnessing our cooperation swiftly grow through more academic projects, joint research studies, and faculty and student exchange programs. We team up for joint publications and academic materials, we conduct joint studies, workshops, conferences, courses, among other events. I am convinced that this new Agreement will give our partnership a new impetus.»
Dag Rune Olsen, Rector at the UiT — The Arctic University of Norway, has supported his colleague by highlighting the importance of the partnership between the two Arctic universities:
«The University of Tromsø — The Arctic University of Norway and the M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University are two Arctic universities that are tasked with supporting the countries’ geopolitical interests in the Arctic by promoting the Arctic research, delivering Arctic-oriented curricula to meet the northern areas’ staffing needs and to ensure more sustainable socio-economic cooperation.»
The ceremony reiterated some of the landmark projects that had been implemented by the universities in the course of their cooperation. Konstantin Zaikov, NArFU Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Information Policy, mentioned the key milestones:
«NArFU and the University of Tromsø have been parties to a whole range of network-based associations — the University of the Arctic, BEAC Joint Working Group on Education and Research, Russian-Norwegian ministerial working group on education cooperation, to name a few,» said Konstantin Zaikov. «Our academic exchange is supported by mobility programs such as Barents+, Tromsø — Arkhangelsk, and North to North, and we also participate in the Russian-Norwegian government grants program. Together, we have launched the activities that have proved significant for the countries in the North. These include the international conference Cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region in the field of education and science as a source of regional development (November 2012); elaboration of proposals for Kirkenes Declaration 2.0; Action Plan on Climate Change Resilience; among others. We continue to deliver our joint academic programs — Environmental Risk Management in the Arctic; Tourism and Travel Management; and the semester-long Russian Studies, the latter being delivered to bachelor’s degree students. The experts of the University of Tromsø took part in four voyages of NArFU Arctic Floating University. The ongoing projects include FAMARB: Facility Management of Residential Buildings in the Barents region; Educational Cooperation in Sustainable Building Technology in Cold Climate Conditions; Academic Cooperation for Sustainable Energy Efficiency Development; Bridging Libraries across Borders: Towards New Vision and Role in Society; and Culture, Society and Development in the Barents Region.
Rector of M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Elena Kudryashova, told her Norwegian colleagues about NArFU’s upcoming pivotal projects, inviting the University of Tromsø to become their partner:
«The first of them — the Research and Training Center „Russian Arctic: New Materials, Technologies and Research Methods“ — was started in 2019. The Center brings together academic institutions, universities and businesses to provide training in a wide range of Arctic-related majors and to promote world-class Arctic research. One more project initiative aims to create the innovation-driven IT park called Digital Arctic, which seeks to develop an interregional IT ecosystem for the Arctic,» said Elena Kudryashova. «Both the projects offer excellent networking opportunities, and we really hope to use their potential to expand our cooperation.»
A potential theme for the cooperation between two universities is offered by aquaculture. In May 2021, NArFU established its Higher School of Fisheries and Marine Technologies, whose team will be involved in developing fish farming technologies.
«Norway is the world’s leader in aquaculture,» Elena Kudryashova emphasized. «This is the reason why we at NArFU see Norwegian universities and research institutes as our most important partners.»
Internship programs weren’t suspended even in the year of the pandemic. Among those who enjoyed the opportunity to do research internships at the University of Tromsø — The Arctic University of Norway is Alexey Kangash. Alexey spent the spring semester of 2021 at its campus in Narvik.
«The internship at the University of Tromsø has become a very important stage in my research study. Thanks to the support from my scientific supervisor, Pavel A. Maryandyshev, and the internship curator at the University of Tromsø, Muhammad Virk, I had the unique opportunity to join the international team of outstanding scientists and to learn from their experience. The internship offered access to high technologies and was an excellent way for me to make progress as a scientist,» said Alexey.
The experience available to the universities from their previous cooperation forms the basis for the new agreement, which was signed during the ceremony. Its signing — by Elena Kudryashova, Rector at M.V. Lomonosov NARFU, and Dag Rune Olsen, Rector at the UiT — The Arctic University of Norway — has marked a new stage in the relations between the two universities.