On 28 March St Petersburg University hosted a meeting between SPbU Rector Nikolay Kropachev and Karel Kühnl, Consul General of the Czech Republic at St Petersburg. During these negotiations the parties have acknowledged the need of expanding areas of cooperation, discussed the opportunity of including the Czech component into the existing SPbU educational programmes and creation of new ones. They have also noted that preserving traditions of the St Petersburg school of Slavic studies is of great importance.
When opening the meeting, Nikolay Kropachev noted that the University was willing to increase the Czech component in various educational programmes implemented at SPbU. "Our cooperation should not be limited to solving problems related to teaching the Czech language in St Petersburg and teaching Russian in Czechia. It makes the cooperation between our countries less active", the Rector noted. "There are many other forms of cooperation that are more effective. For example, we invite representatives of consulates, embassies and international businesses to join our educational programme councils, take part in setting up topics of graduation projects, administering final examinations and working as members of SPbU personnel committees."
Nikolay Kropachev expressed his confidence that expanding cooperation in those fields would increase SPbU graduate employability at the labour market and would capacitate better networking between the two countries. In illustration thereof, he spoke about the University's cooperation with Hungary. The Rector said that, with contributions made by the Hungarian Embassy and businesses, SPbU launched a new educational programme titled "Culture and Art in Hungary". Moreover, the Hungarian component was included into several programmes already being implemented. Development of the programme "Tourism (with Learning of Thai)" is another example of successful international partnership. The first students will enrol on this programme this year.
"SPbU cooperates with Czech institutions of higher education in many fields. Yet now we see that there are still more opportunities", Karel Kühnl noted. "I agree that we should not concentrate on the foreign language teaching issues only." Mr Consul General also noted that for the Czech party organising Czech lecturers' work at SPbU is an issue of great significance. Nikolay Kropachev said that a position of a lecturer-practitioner can be occupied pursuant to the results of an open competition. He also added that most of all the University needs scientists who will take part in various research including linguistic studies — that will contribute to the preservation and development of the St Petersburg school of Slavic studies.
Karel Kühnl pointed put that Czech lecturers' work in Russia is regulated by an agreement between the ministries of the two countries and at the present stage the conditions of this agreement are insufficient for such high-rank scholars as professors. Nikolay Kropachev told the Consul that at present there was an opportunity to sign direct agreements between the University and ministries of other countries. Examples thereof are direct contracts signed with the PRC Ministry of Education and German DFG Foundation. Mr Consul General expressed his eagerness to work on that issue and discuss in with the Czech Ambassador in Russia.
At the end of the meeting the Rector offered holding a joint meeting with the Consuls General of Slavic states, whose languages are studied at SPbU. "It is crucial for us that it is you who invigorate the joint work, participate in defining contents of our educational programmes, evaluate our graduates' competences, actively participate in the educational process," Nikolay Kropachev noted. "Not until then will we be able to fully utilise the potential of our cooperation, make it more effective and multilateral."