Boosting Internationalization of Higher Education in Russia

Russian and European educational experts gathered in Arkhangelsk in April to share the best practices they have achieved in promoting the education sector and participating in the EU programs. The agenda of the international workshop “Internationalization as the Way towards University Excellence” hosted by M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) included also network cooperation between European North-based universities.

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 the 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.

International workshop ‘Internationalization as the Way towards University Excellence’ at NArFU. Photo: NArFU.

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 million – 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, offering 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 Kalinina.

The Aurora, Aurora II and Triple I partner universities spent the second half of the day sharing their best practices.

Marina Kalinina
Vice-Rector of International Cooperation, NArFU

Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) is a co-coordinator of the NDI in 2014-2015.