Rector of Yugra State University: “We Have Established Ourselves as a Regional Hub for Talented Youth”

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Yugra, formally known as Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug–Yugra, is Russia's primary oil- and gas-bearing region. It only lags behind Moscow and St. Petersburg in terms of socio-economic conditions, Russian rating agency RIA Rating notes.

Yugra's population has increased by 24% to 1.7 mln people since 2000, and youth are willingly building their lives and careers in this part of Russia. The region's first federally governed educational institution – Yugra State University (YUSU), established in 2001 – has undoubtedly played a significant role in encouraging youngsters to do so.

This year YUSU turns 20. Its rector Roman Kuchin gave an interview to Forpost Press. He talked about the recent scientific developments, the results of this year's enrollment campaign, domestic and international collaborations.

The University was founded, in particular, to strengthen Yugra's potential as a territory in which people want to establish their roots. How do you manage to solve this task?

One of the youngest state universities in Russia, Yugra State University has already declared itself a regional hub for talented youth. Therefore Yugra is not just a temporary work destination but a place worth living in.

Today we have 4,962 students studying in higher education programmes. More than 1200 of them come from Tyumen, Kurgan, and Sverdlovsk regions and other regions of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS countries: Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, and others) and from far abroad countries - Ghana and Zambia.

According to the monitoring of the 2021 graduates' employment, 83% (1,168 people) work at the enterprises and organisations of the district, 11% continue their education in the Master's or postgraduate courses of Yugra State University.

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In 2019, Yugra became a reference region for the International Centre of Competences in Mining Education under the auspices of UNESCO in the field of oil and gas. Does this high-status help strengthen the link between science and production?

Of course, it does. The centre's primary goals are to develop higher, technical and vocational education systems to train staff for the mining industry. It is complex work. The interaction of the scientific environment with production is built on several fronts.

First, to provide mining specialists with the full range of knowledge, skills and experience necessary to integrate into the international professional environment. The result of this work will be the creation of a unified system of international professional certification and certification of engineering personnel of mineral resource companies. International standards accepted by most countries will appear, and the content of the foreground university educational programmes will be oriented to them, in its turn.

The second direction envisages the creation of a single educational space to ensure the global mobility of students, postgraduates, teachers and scientists in the field of mining at the national and international levels. It will strengthen the mutual exchange of experience and provide an opportunity to be immersed in the problems of scientific organisation of production processes of Russian and foreign companies.

Equally important is creating an effective system that facilitates innovative and technological research into promising mineral knowledge resource development areas.

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YUSU has been actively involved in all this work. For example, with the support and participation of the Competence Centre, Yugra annually holds a scientific and practical forum called Oil Capital, which is co-organised by our University. One of the priorities of the event is the formation of a new knowledge economy model based on the innovative transformation of the oil industry and, consequently, on the integration of the latest scientific achievements into the actual production sector.

Yugorsk State University has a Superintendent programme, developed jointly with Gazpromneft Khantos. It aims to train professional management personnel capable of assessing production risks and implementing large-scale projects in the oil and gas industry. A superintendent is what we call a system manager in a field who has technological and economic competencies and knowledge of industrial safety.

In 2020, under a cooperation agreement with Gazpromneft-Khantos, a Lean Laboratory, a state-of-the-art training centre for practical training in lean technology tools, was opened at YUSU. It has become a platform for interaction between the University's educational environment and the employer's professional environment. Executives using such technologies learn how to avoid unproductive costs, apply lean production methods, systematise and automate repetitive processes.

The University has a specialised department of engineering technologies in the oil and gas complex at RN-Yuganskneftegaz. The oil and gas company forms a personnel reserve from among the University's students. Besides, various joint projects are being developed at the department, including retraining programs and advanced training of the companies' employees.

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At the XII Tyumen Oil and Gas Forum 2021, Yugra State University presented a hybrid electric power plant development. What are the prospects for its introduction into production?

A prototype system for automated positioning solar panels concerning the sun with self-diagnostics and telemechanics capabilities has been developed. It was presented at the XII Tyumen Oil and Gas Forum 2021.

Before proceeding to the next stage in developing the industrial appearance of the monitoring and self-diagnostic system, it is necessary to carry out field tests at sub-zero temperatures at the Mukhrino International Field Station. This field station was established as part of the UNESCO Chair in Environmental Dynamics and Global Climate Change (EDCC) at Yugra State University) in 2009. It is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to enable year-round, long-term scientific research. A team from the School of Advanced Engineering, under the direction of Associate Professor Stanislav Dolinger, is working on preparing the prototype and measuring equipment for the tests.

The tests are planned for November and December 2021. The plan is to validate the computer model's theoretical data and test the main prototype components for fault tolerance.

The project office of Rosseti Tyumen has expressed interest in the development. Currently, the form and directions of cooperation are being worked out.

How was the admission campaign this year, did the preferences of applicants change compared to previous years, what areas of study were most competitive?

In 2021, the admission campaign was mixed online and offline. For the convenience of applicants, the options for submitting documents were expanded. It was possible to come to the University in person and send the documents by mail or through electronic communication channels, including through the service Admission to University Online and the electronic information system of YuGU.

In addition, for quick interaction with applicants and their parents, we have organised a multi-channel telephone line, an IP-telephony voice assistant, and developed an information platform, "How to Become a Student at YUSU".

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The number of applications for admission increases every year. There were 8011 applications for full-time study in 2021. The main factor is strengthening the University's image and the demand for our graduates in the labour market. In addition, the geography of applicants is expanding.

This year the admission limits for budgetary places at YUSU were increased. So in 2020, there were 407 budgetary places, and in 2021 - 543. The competition for federal government-funded places was 7.85 people per place. For regional seats, it was 10.6. The general competition for the University was 9.46 people per place. The average score of the Unified State Examination for admission at state-financed openings was 68.11, whilst being slightly lower for regional quotas – 61.44. The overall average score was 65.73.

Five hundred fifty people were enrolled on the budgetary tuition, including seven applicants from Zambia and one from Ghana. Three hundred fifty-two people were enrolled at the expense of the Yugra budget, with 251 more admitted for extrabudgetary studies. This year we have 19 applicants from CIS countries; 8 of them are citizens of Kazakhstan.

The most popular fields of study among applicants are Informatics and Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, Oil and Gas Engineering, Safety Engineering, Economics and Jurisprudence.

What plans do you have for YUSU's participation in the Nedra Consortium of Universities?

Yugra State University's participation in the Nedra consortium strengthens the University's research potential. Thanks to inter-university cooperation, faculty competence is increasing, the quality of higher education is improving, and support for talented students is strengthened.

I also look forward to furthering fruitful cooperation within the consortium to improve the adaptation of universities to the demands of the labour market.

I also hope for further fruitful cooperation within the consortium to improve the adaptation of universities to the demands of the labour market.