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    9 Октября 2011
    The Baltic Education Forum 2011: from problems to solutions

    The Quo vadis: university development paths round table held in the framework of the fifth Baltic Education Forum was meant to tackle topical issues in the field of higher education, namely, the influence of federal universities on the socioeconomic situation in the region, the impact of contracts with the real sector of economy on the development of research programmes, and the ways to promote efficient cooperation with international colleagues.

    The Quo vadis: university development paths round table held in the framework of the fifth Baltic Education Forum was meant to tackle topical issues in the field of higher education, namely, the influence of federal universities on the socioeconomic situation in the region, the impact of contracts with the real sector of economy on the development of research programmes, and the ways to promote efficient cooperation with international colleagues.

    In his welcoming address, Nikolai Tsukanov, the governor of the region, emphasised the need for strategic planning in education: "The Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University sets serious and ambitious tasks. The mission of modern education is not only to keep abreast of the latest developments, not to adapt to the existing markets, but to determine and construct a new economy".

    Discussion was preceded by the conclusion of a cooperation agreement between IKBFU and M.V. Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University. The rector of IKBFU, Andrei Klemeshev, stressed that the meetings in the framework of the Baltic Education Forum should results in concrete decisions. For the effective use of all innovative instruments developed in our country, it is pivotal that IKBFU has an opportunity to share experience with other Russian universities. Thus, the presentations of colleagues from other federal universities were especially welcome.

    Viktor Koksharov, the rector of Boris Yeltsin Ural Federal University, described in his report five features of a modern university – it should be global, reputable, open, applied, and developing. In his opinion, a federal university should train specialists in all fields in demand in the regional economy. Today, Ural Federal University boasts 50 thousand students, who, in several years, will solve the problems relating to the lack of qualified staff in the Ural region. One of the most acute problems of a modern university is a transition from the Soviet one-tier education model focused on theoretical knowledge to the new tow-tier model, which could help involve students in applied science.

    The ratio between research and training in the new university model is an important topic to discuss. It was also emphasised by Alexei Ponomarev, deputy minister of education and science of Russia: "Although we managed to save fundamental research institutions, the crucial for economy applied sector was almost lost in the 1990s. If there is a personnel problem, first of all, it concerns technical disciplines. The new model of education development is aimed at promoting research and developing education programmes that would combine training and research processes."

    The issues of efficient communication with international universities were tackled by Werner Väth, the vice president of Freie Universität Berlin. The restructuring and modernisation of international programmes is one of the three strategic centres of a university's innovative activity. In the framework of new development programme, all documentation was translated in the English language, which helped promote the research conducted at the university in the international market. The internationalisation of education at Berlin University requires everyday efforts of the administration and faculties. The Free University has more than 150 strategic partners. It was ranked among the top 9 universities in Germany.

    The last presentation was given by the executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, John C. Vaughn. He focused on the difficulties faced by North American universities during the economic crises and returned to the topic of education internationalisation. He stressed that 50% of students would belong to ethnic minorities by 2020 and that they would have become the majority by 2042. Thus, it is important to increase the cultural and ethnical diversity of students and teachers today. As John C. Vaughn emphasised, education belongs to the field of common values independent of politics and ideology. The round table led to an idea to develop a global system of world universities that follow the same development path.