International forum “European higher education area: agenda to move forward” that took place on 16-20 May 2017 provided a platform for a number of activities aimed at discussing opportunities for participating in European educational and research programmes as well as practical aspects of preparing and carrying out projects and studying best-practice examples. International Conference “Europe at the crossroads – XXI century” jointly organized by Association of European Studies and Government of the Voronezh region was the key event held in the framework of the forum. Its goal was to debate crucial issues concerning development of European civilization such as European identity, ethnic and cultural diversity in the context of changing Europe, geopolitical interests and search for new borders.
The forum attracted over 150 representatives from the Russian and European universities and organizations, including 25 international guests and more than 70 participants from 35 Russian regions from Kaliningrad to Yakutia (Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Arkhangelsk, Belgorod, Veliky Novgorod, Vladikavkaz, Volgograd, Ekaterinburg, Ivanovo, Izhevsk, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Krasnodar, Kursk, Naberezhnye Chelny, Nizhny Novgorod, Orel, Perm, Petrazavodsk, Rostov-upon-Don, Ryazan, Saransk, Saratov, Stavropol, Tambov, Tver, Tomsk, Tyumen, Ufa, Chelyabinsk, Yakutsk, Yaroslavl).
Among participants there were experts in the field of European studies, international relations, political science, sociology and history from major universities and research centres of the UK, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Ukraine and Russia. They were Prof. Alexey Gromyko, president of the Association of European Studies; Mr Luis Portero, head of Economics and Trade section of the Delegation of the European Union to Russian Federation; Mr. Torsten Ites, regional coordinator, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Russian Federation; Dr. David Gorman, Eurasia regional director, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Mr Nikita Silakov, representative of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund; Ms Natalia Axenova, representative of the National Erasmus+ Office in Russia.
The forum was opened by the welcome addresses delivered by Prof. Dmitry Yendovitsky, rector of Voronezh State University, and an honoured guest, Prof. Miguel Angel Adame, professor of the Department of Civil Law and International Private Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Seville and coordinator of Erasmus+ HARMONY project.
It started with the presentation on general issues concerning Erasmus+ programme made by Ms Natalia Axenova. She elaborated on main directions of the programme in the field of higher education and talked about starting points for participation.
The best practice experience was presented afterwards on the examples of successful Erasmus+ and TEMPUS projects, namely “HARMONY – Development of approaches to harmonization of a comprehensive internationalization strategies in higher education, research and innovation at EU and Partner Countries”, “InterEULawEast – European and International Law Master Programme Development in Eastern Europe”, “COMPLETE - Establishment of Centers for Competence and Employability Development”, and projects currently implemented at VSU in the framework of Jean Monnet Actions (“ProEU - To be European in Russia: pro and contra”, “EXE PRS - European higher education from the perspective of Russian students”, “PolidEU - European Identity through the European Union policy”, “EULap- EU – Russia Law Approximation”, SHEXP - Overcoming shadow economy problems: adaptation of the EU experience in Russia).
Ms Snejina Nikolova, project adviser of Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Actions (EACEA), actively participated in forum events through video-conference.
Mr Alain Labatut, European expert in the field of project management (regional government of Andalusia, Spain) carried out the training “Implementation of European projects: financial and administrative issues” aimed at studying aspects concerning finances and management in the EU-funded projects.
At the end of the first day, the official ceremony of giving the robe and honorary degree of Doctor of Voronezh State University to Prof. Alexey Gromyko, director of the Institute of Europe RAS and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, took place. Also, the multilateral cooperation agreement was concluded by 14 universities from Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, the UK, Russia, Belarus and Armenia under ERASMUS+ project “HARMONY”.
The exhibition dedicated to the memory of Dr Igor Zornikov was launched at the museum of history of VSU on 17 May in the framework of the European week. Dr Igor Zornikov who was a highly-qualified expert in the field of international relations made a great contribution in developing links between VSU and international universities and organizations.
On 18 May Centre for Competence and Employability Development was opened at VSU in the framework of Erasmus+ project “COMPLETE - Establishment of Centers for Competence and Employability Development”. The event was attended by Ms Marianna Gevorski, project manager at Fachhochschule des Mittelstands (FHM) (Bielefeld, Germany), Dr Elena Maslova, deputy head of the Department of Labour and Employment of the Voronezh region, and Nadezhda Ivanova, deputy director of the Centre for Employment “Molodezhny”. On completion of the event certificates of improving professional qualification were awarded to the first graduates who then talked about their impressions about studying at the Centre.
International conference “European higher education from the perspective of Russian students” took place on 18-19 May in the framework of EHE PRS project. During the event the presentations were made by the international guests. They were Mr Rafael Wagner, manager of the Study Abroad Office of the International Centre of the University of Seville (Spain); Ms Camille Dulor, head of the International Relations Office of the Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée (France); Dr Maria Catroga, executive coordinator of the International Relations Office of the Polytechnical Institute of Tomar (Portugal); Prof. Jozsef Goretity, head of the Institute of Slavic Philology of Debrecen University (Hungary).
The section “Challenges and opportunities of international students at the EU universities: Russian perspective” included presentations of the Russian experts from Tomsk State University and Ogarev Mordovia State University. Experience of Voronezh State University was shared by Prof. Lubov Tsurikova, head of the Department of English Philology, Prof. Elena Alexeeva, head of the Department of French Philology, and Prof. Ludmila Velichkova, head of the Department of German Philology.
The seminar “Methodology and Ethic of studying at European university” was held by Dr. Rupert Beinhauer, project manager at the University of Applied Sciences FH JOANNEUM (Graz, Austria), on the second day of the conference. Students who took part in academic mobility programmes were among the participants.
On 19 May international conference “Europe at the crossroads – XXI century” dedicated to the 25th anniversary of European Studies in Russia and the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome followed the forum agenda. The conference was attended by leading European and Russian experts in the field of European studies. The key issues concerning development of European civilization such as European identity, ethnic and cultural diversity in the context of changing Europe, geopolitical interests and search for new borders were discussed during the conference.
Report-and-election conference of Association of European Studies concluded the forum.