Cooperation with India is one of the “priorities” for the Russian Federation, which is keen to explore potential collaboration opportunities, including in “developing joint education programmes” using modern digital technology, according to the country’s Ministry of Education and Science.
“I think modern technologies are one of the visible areas where we may envisage further development of higher education cooperation. In India, there is a growing interest in such technologies and it appears that modern digital technologies are what India is going to base its economy on,” Alexander Sobolev, Director of the Department of State Policy in Higher Education of the Ministry, in an interview at the ministry’s office here.
Reflecting that “cooperation with India is one of the obvious priorities for Russia”, Sobolev highlighted that his country has a number of universities that specialise in IT and digital technologies which could be partners or are currently developing partnerships with Indian universities and institutions.
Sobolev said the Higher School of Economics is one such university where they are embracing and adapting digital technology to economics and life sciences while the Moscow State University has a very serious school of mathematics and IT.
“ITMO University (in St. Petersburg) is the Russian leader in IT, providing training and research in advanced science, humanities, engineering and modern information technology, developing translational IT, which means applying the university’s expertise in computer technologies, for example, to health care, urban and social studies, blending the culture of innovation in IT and discovery with world-class education,” he said.
In 2016-2017, ITMO University was assigned by Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science to design a system that helps provide security at global mass gatherings using multi-agent modelling technologies.
The mathematical model that can predict crowd behaviour was designed on the basis of the data collected at Kumbh Mela (this was the so-called Kumbh-Mela experiment), a study with the largest number of participants.
Sobolev informed that the Russian government has drawn up a list of priority projects that are being implemented by the Ministry of Education and Science: Universities as innovation centres, modern digital educational environment in the Russian Federation and developing the export potential of the Russian education system.
“We have 243,000 international students altogether attending universities in Russia. This figure has approximately doubled since 2010. The target for 2025 is an increase in the number of international students to 750,000,” he said.
In this context, the Russian Academic Excellence Project 5-100 (5 in top 100), launched in 2013, has an essential role to play.
The project targets at least five Russian universities featuring in the top 100 universities worldwide 2020.
There are 21 universities participating in the project.
Since the launch of the project, the share of foreign professors, teachers, and researchers among the staff of the Project 5-100 universities has increased 4.5 times, and the number of international students has doubled.
Since 2013, Project 5-100 participants have implemented more than 2,250 research projects headed by leading foreign and Russian scientists and/or jointly with promising university research organisations and centres.
Showcasing Russia as a top destination for foreign students, Sobolev explained that every year, the government provides “state-funded spots” at universities to international applicants.
“There are 9,300 students from India. In 2017, 15,000 such spots were granted in Russian higher education institutions. For India, there were 102,” he said.
The quota allocated by the Ministry of Education applies not only to undergraduates but also to post-graduate students.
“Russia is one of the few countries in the world that provide foreign applicants with the right to study free of charge in universities on par with Russian students,” he added.
(Sahana Ghosh was in Moscow at the invitation of MEPhI, the National Research Nuclear University. She can be contacted at email@example.com)