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The German branch of the Competence Center for Mining engineering education under the auspices of UNESCO was established

Фрайбергская горная академия
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This structure is headquartered in St. Petersburg and regularly expands its network of partners. It already accounts of more than a hundred technical universities, as well as energy and mining companies in countries such as Austria, Great Britain, China, Germany, and many others.

On Friday, January 22, the chairman of the Governing Board of the International Center of Competence in Mining Education under the auspices of UNESCO, Rector of St. Petersburg Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko, and Rector of the Freiberg Mining Academy Klaus-Dieter Barbknecht signed a cooperation agreement. It foresees the creation of the German division of the Center of Competences on the basis of the German university.

The task of the new unit will be to increase global mobility of students, graduate students, and scientists, to participate in creating and implementing a unified system of international professional certification of teachers and engineers, to intensify research aimed at improving the efficiency of the natural resource sector and minimizing man-made damage to ecosystems.

Vladimir Litvinenko during the discussion preceding the signing ceremony drew the audience's attention to the paradox in the system of mining education. On the one hand, its standards all over the world are gradually simplifying (the pandemic has made this trend even more evident), and on the other hand, more and more serious requirements are imposed on the modern engineer at a real enterprise.

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Employers expect university graduates not only to possess theoretical knowledge but also be fluent in English, to work with specialized computer programs, and be familiar with all the links of the technological chain and production economics. However, young personnel do not always meet the expectations of the labor market, which is why there is an acute shortage of well-qualified specialists in the industry today. This, in its turn, leads to numerous technogenic accidents and a decrease in the efficiency of the entire mineral sector.

“The potential of the Freiberg Mining Academy and St. Petersburg Mining University allows us to look into the future with optimism. I am sure that our cooperation in the framework of the Competence Center under the auspices of UNESCO will make it possible to improve the professional competencies of engineers both in Russia and in Germany. The development of mining education should be evolutionary and take into account the specifics of today, including the digitalization of the industry. The agreement which we are going to sign today will allow us, no doubt, to deepen integration and improve the sustainability of the mining industry,” Vladimir Litvinenko said.

He reminded that the partnership between the two universities has a rich history. Thus, in 2006, the agreement on the creation of the Russian-German raw materials forum was signed in presence of Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel. Within a few years, it has already become an authoritative platform where politicians, scientists, and businessmen of the two countries regularly discuss the issues of cooperation in the energy sector. It was the heads of the St. Petersburg Mining University and the Freiberg Mining Academy who initiated the creation and are the permanent participants of this dialogue.

Vladimir Litvinenko is still the Co-Chairman of the Forum from the Russian side. On the German side, a similar position is held by former UN Deputy Secretary-General Klaus Töpfer, who was also present at the signing ceremony of the agreement between the Center for Competences and the German university

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“We are on the right track. After all, we know how important international cooperation is for improving the quality of mining education. And we are ready to develop our partnerships to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we have now lost a lot in terms of academic mobility. But that is why it is essential to increase the level of integration, even if it is online so that when the quarantine restrictions are over, we can immediately enter a new round of interaction, and not roll backward. This is all the more important because both the socio-economic development and the environmental welfare of our countries depend on the level of education of young people who go to work in the mining industry,” said Klaus Toepfer.

Rector of the German university Klaus-Dieter Barbknecht said that the opening of the UNESCO Center on the basis of the Freiberg Mining Academy will allow “to link the competencies that exist in Europe and those that exist in Russia.” He also assured the partners that there is “a serious public demand” for this kind of collaboration.

“It's important to show people in both countries that it is possible to engage in mining and processing resources without having a detrimental impact on nature. To create innovations that allow us to achieve this, and to introduce them into production is one of the most serious tasks that we face. It will undoubtedly be much easier to achieve if Europe's leading universities unite in a pool under the auspices of UNESCO. This is exactly what is happening now, thanks to the initiative of our St. Petersburg colleagues,” said Mr. Barbknecht.

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Bernd Meyer, Director of the Institute of Energy and Chemical Technology Projects at the Freiberg Mining Academy (FRG), after the parties signed the agreement, noted that it “forms a new European educational landscape.” Vladimir Borzenkov, Director General of the Center of Competences, called it “a very important document, which will allow working in a completely new format.”

“The joint work, which is already being carried out by our universities, undoubtedly, will be continued. For example, on the double degrees for students and double defenses of theses for graduate students, which allows them to receive degrees of candidates of science and Ph.D. degrees. But within the new format, our interaction will of course be expanded and given a new impetus for development. It is especially important to focus on improving the competencies of engineers, both university graduates and employees of raw material companies with a long experience. After all, the technological progress today is so rapid that it requires specialists to be trained throughout their lives,” summed up the director of the Mining Institute of the Freiberg Mining Academy Karsten Drebenstedt.

Let us note that branches of the International Center of Competence in Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO were created today in five countries: Austria, Armenia, Germany, China, and Finland. The other partners have the status of supporting centers or participants in joint programs.