First official meeting of BRICS Network University in Russia

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Russian Federation – The first Forum of the BRICS Network University was held at Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg, Russia) from April 6-9, upon an initiative of the RF Ministry of Education and Science. More than 150 representatives of universities and ministries of education of Russia, India, China, Brazil and South Africa took part in the event. The Forum was the first official meeting of the delegates in the frames of the BRICS Network University (BRICS NU) project implementation.

Decision on the establishment of the BRICS Network University was made during the year of Russia’s presidency in BRICS. The memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the BRICS NU was signed on November 18, 2015 in Moscow.

According to UrFU vice rector for international relations, Maxim Khomyakov, the Forum pursued three main goals – meeting of the top managers of participating universities, working out of the action plan for the development of network study programs by the international thematic groups, and the meeting of the international governing board of the project.

“Development of relations with BRICS universities is a strategic project for our university. The potential of this collaboration is really great, and we should implement it to the full extent. This is a complex of activities in the spheres of research, education and administration. BRICS countries share similar priorities and goals, and we plan that the joint projects will develop dynamically,” noted Maxim Khomyakov.

The Forum started with a plenary session during which the heads of delegations presented the participating universities from each country—the universities were selected in the course of an open competition by the ministries of education.

The work of the Forum continued in the form of meetings where the delegates discussed the key aspects of the project’s development. Members of the international governing board discussed the organizational and regulatory issues whilst the members of six thematic groups were working on action plans for the development of joint programs. They discussed the fields for developing network master’s and PhD programs taught in English, which will be open for students from all five countries, expanding academic exchange within BRICS countries and organization of short–term programs: summer school, internships etc.

During the closing plenary all thematic groups presented their action plans. In accordance with them during the next academic year the participating universities will hold the first winter and summer schools and start exploring the opportunities for exchange, and in a year they will launch first network Master and PhD programs.

The thematic priorities of the BRICS Network university are: energy; computer science and information security; BRICS studies; ecology and climate change; water resources and pollution treatment; economics.

Vinay Sheel Oberoy from the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development of India, said: “Priorities have been chosen by BRICS countries and reflect the strengths of the countries. These are the directions in which we want to develop.”

The Forum ended up with a solemn signing ceremony during which 45 universities expressed their willingness to participate in the BRICS NU project.