St Petersburg University is to open a centre for modern educational technologies in Belarus

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In the course of the meeting, Sergey Andryushin, Vice-Rector for International Affairs at St Petersburg University, presented a number of initiatives aimed at the development of inter-university cooperation. These include the establishment of a representative office of St Petersburg University at the Belarusian-Russian University. ‘This format of cooperation promotes the development of bilateral ties and promotes contacts with international colleagues in the academic environment. Representative offices host joint events, while students and teachers can come there to learn more about joint academic mobility programmes,’ explained Sergey Andryushin.

Today, regardless of the current situation in the world, representative offices of St Petersburg University continue to operate in eight countries: Spain; Italy; China; the Republic of Korea; Türkiye; Iran; Uzbekistan; and Greece — and we plan to open two more offices.

Sergey Andryushin, Vice-Rector for International Affairs at St Petersburg University

Equally important is active cooperation with employers. St Petersburg University has over 1,500 partnership agreements with large and medium-sized companies, government agencies and public organisations. They are actively involved in the University’s activities. Representatives of employers participate in councils of academic programmes, examination boards and state assessment committees. They take part in the design, approval, and modernisation of academic programmes. They also have a say in decisions regarding topics for students’ graduation projects. The University’s graduates set up small innovative enterprises to implement their research and development ideas. Sergey Andryushin stressed that both Russia and the Republic of Belarus have immense industrial potential, which can be developed through proactive cooperation with employers in our countries.

Furthermore, St Petersburg University has accumulated extensive experience in digitalisation and automation of various spheres of the University’s life. We are willing to share our experience and expertise with our partners. Vladimir Starostenko, Senior Vice-Rector for Digital Transformation and Information Security, spoke in detail about the success in the development of e-learning resources. ‘St Petersburg University is rightly considered a national leader in online education. The University is one of the founders of the Russian National OpenEdu platform, with over 1,000 online courses from leading Russian universities presented there and built into universities’ curricula across Russia and overseas. Over 400 of the courses were developed by St Petersburg University,’ said Vladimir Starostenko. ‘If you want to implement an academic programme but you lack some specialists, you can utilise our online courses’.

Currently, there are over 10 million active learners on the national OpenEdu platform, with over 3.5 million of them studying courses authored by St Petersburg University.

According to Vladimir Starostenko, the University has a well-established cooperative network that dates back to the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, students from every ninth university in Russia were taking online courses at St Petersburg University. At present, the list of the University’s regular network partners includes about 40 universities with a combined enrolment of over 20,000 students. In his presentation, Vladimir Starostenko also looked into the possibilities of using St Petersburg University’s online courses to build degree and non-degree programmes. He also talked about the University’s initiative to open the League of Academic Integrity of the Russian Federation and invited colleagues to join the League.

Yury Mashin, First Vice-Rector of the Belarusian-Russian University, thanked the colleagues for constructive suggestions and confirmed that the Belarusian-Russian University is interested in cooperation with St Petersburg University. He said that the Belarusian-Russian University had already had several units opened in cooperation with Russian educational and research institutions. During the meeting, it was decided to open a Russian-Belarusian centre for modern educational technologies at the Belarusian-Russian University in cooperation with St Petersburg University.

The Belarusian-Russian University is an interstate institution of higher education under joint jurisdiction of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation. It has the status of a state university in both countries. It is a major regional research and educational centre, which includes: a university; a lyceum; a college of architecture and construction; and an institute for professional development and retraining.

The proposal to work together with potential employers was also supported by the meeting. The legislation of the Republic of Belarus requires obligatory work placement for the graduates, whose education is financed by the state. Graduates of some academic programmes of the Belarusian-Russian University come to work in Russia. Belarusian colleagues have also shown interest in organising internships, academic mobility programmes, and exchange programmes for students and teachers.

Following the meeting, the parties agreed to draft a cooperation agreement and an agreement on establishing a Russian-Belarusian centre for modern educational technologies, as well as a roadmap with a detailed plan of joint activities.

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