Seven interns from Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Bangladesh have completed the additional programme «Study and development of mineral resources of the World Ocean» at St Petersburg University.

Among the variety of University programmes this one is special. Its main mission, in addition to advanced training, is the dissemination of knowledge about the World Ocean and its wealth among specialists from developing countries, which do not yet have the same technological and educational opportunities as Russia and other developed countries. Professor Georgii Cherkashev, the head of the additional educational programme «Study and development of mineral resources of the World Ocean» told us how this programme had been created.

Georgii, tell us how this programme appeared in St Petersburg University.

The exploration and extraction of World Ocean mineral resources, which are outside the jurisdiction of any state, is regulated by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a special organisation under the United Nations. As part of the rules approved by this body, a system was developed according to which countries can enter into contracts with the ISA for the exploration of the seabed and the subsequent extraction of mineral resources. At present, Russia has signed and operates three contracts for the study of deep-sea minerals: sulphide ores, ferromanganese nodules, and cobalt-manganese crusts. By concluding such an agreement, in addition to geological exploration, the state also undertakes the commitment to provide comprehensive training to specialists from developing countries in the field of the study of the World Ocean. The educational programme includes training in oceanology, marine geology, ecology, exploration and extraction of mineral resources, and the economic and legal aspects of the development of the oceans. St Petersburg University was chosen as the base for such internships, because our university has specialists in various aspects of studying the World Ocean who can implement such an interdisciplinary programme: oceanologists, geologists, ecologists, economists, lawyers, and many others.

This programme is an example of combining the capabilities of our University to provide educational services in interdisciplinary areas with the commitment of our state to the world community.

How does the educational process work?

The programme consists of two main parts: a theoretical one, which takes place directly within the walls of St Petersburg University; and a practical one, which is implemented jointly with Stock Venture «Polar Marine Geosurvey Expedition» and JSC Yuzhmorgeologiya. The first part lasts from two to three weeks, during which students attend lectures and seminars. In addition to knowledge of geology, the programme broadens students’ horizons in the fields of modern marine technology, ecology and oceanology, international maritime law and the world economy of mineral raw materials. This will enable them to master the widest possible range of knowledge related to ocean research, exploration and extraction of mineral resources

As the training is very intensive, it is important that the interns initially have a sufficiently strong background. Therefore, the competition for each student position within the programme is very high — there are dozens of applications for each place! The interest and motivation of visiting specialists is also taken into account. Equally strict requirements are imposed on professors. They have to be not only highly qualified specialists in their field, but they also have to be fluent in English.

How will the additional educational programme «Study and development of mineral resources of the World Ocean» be developed?

Contracts for exploration and subsequent extraction of mineral resources in the oceans are entered into for decades. Therefore, our programme has a good chance to continue to exist. Needless to say, it should and will evolve. The main, strategic direction of its development within St Petersburg University is to attract professors of other specialties from the University — economists, lawyers and other experts. In addition, our programme is publicly accessible and is not just for UN interns. For example, specialists from Belarus, Korea and China, who are interested in studying at St Petersburg University, have applied recently to the University.