St. Petersburg Mining University Gets a Strong Impetus for the Development of Academic Mobility
St. Petersburg Mining University and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) signed an agreement on the joint implementation of the program "Natural Resources - Energy - Sustainability". Within its framework young Russian scientists - postgraduate students and candidates of sciences will be provided with grants for research projects in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The German Academic Exchange Service is one of Europe’s largest organizations dedicated to increasing the academic mobility of scientists and students. Its main goal is to promote German higher education, as well as to help build a national scientific elite by educating talented young people from abroad. That is why many experts, evaluating the prospects of cooperation with the DAAD, speak not only about the apparent advantages of such a partnership but also its drawbacks.
"Such programs give their participants a huge competitive advantage, as they are immersed in a new environment for themselves; they get acquainted with popular in the West directions of scientific research; innovations, on which this or that institute works; they get an opportunity to improve the technical terminology of German and English languages. This is an invaluable experience that will come in handy in the future. At the same time, we are well aware that we must return a promising young scientist to his or her alma mater after the internship. We have such a system in place, and all the guys who come back from abroad are motivated to continue working or studying in Russia," said Vladimir Borzenkov, Vice-Rector of Mining University.
The contract is for four years with the possibility of prolongation for the same period. The most interesting thing is that not only representatives of the St. Petersburg university, but also its partners in the Nedra Consortium can submit documents to participate in the contest, the victory in which will allow them to take a scientific internship in Germany. The consortium brings together more than 50 Russian higher educational institutions whose fields of study are connected with training specialists for the mineral and raw materials complex.
Under the signed agreement, the parties will provide fourteen annual scholarships for domestic postgraduate students and six - for PhD. degree holders (the program of their stay in Germany for six months and three months, respectively). And it covers not only travel costs, accommodation, and meals, but also quite decent wages - 1200 and 2000 euros per month.
The Russian side of the deal is guaranteed by Mining University and the International Center of Competence in Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO, one of the tasks of which is precisely to increase academic mobility. These institutions undertake to cover 50% of all expenses related to the project implementation. The DAAD will cover the second part
By the way, similar agreements between this organization and our institutions of higher education have been concluded before. However, most of them were not implemented to the fullest extent due to the absence of the institute of suretyship. In other words, young Russian scientists were offered to find half of the money needed for internships on their own, which often led to contract failures. In this regard, the German Academic Exchange Service stopped cooperating directly with universities and focused on the partnership with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, which distributes quotas to universities.
The criteria according to which applicants for the program have been selected in recent years raise many questions in the expert community. For example, to win the competition it is necessary to have publications in scientific journals, which is, of course, is a rightful approach. However, their level is not taken into account, i.e., for the selection committee, it does not matter at all what quartile the articles were published in. On the one hand, this makes it possible to expand the geography of applicants and increase the number of universities whose representatives have the opportunity to carry out their research projects in the Federal Republic of Germany. On the other hand, the quality of the applicants due to this conjuncture leaves much to be desired.
“Signing the agreement with the DAAD is a huge success of Russian higher school, as well as undoubted recognition by our German partners of the importance of growing competencies in the sciences related to mining, processing, and transportation of raw materials, including traditional energy sources. We have taken another step toward integration into the international scientific and educational community, and have received a strong impetus for the development of academic mobility. The most important thing is that the new opportunities that are opening up to scientists from the Nedra Consortium of universities were used with maximum effect. Therefore, a prerequisite for all participants in internships in Germany will be an understanding of the goals and objectives facing them. All young people should realize why they are going to a particular university and not others, have a work plan, as well as the consent of the academic advisor from the German side, motivated to cooperate with the Russians,” explained Vladimir Borzenkov.
Registration for the contest will continue till September 15th on the official DAAD website. The grants implementation stage will start on February 1 of the next year.