How to create an international student research project? What can Russian scholars teach German ones? These and other issues were discussed by experts from St Petersburg University, Moscow State University, and the University of Applied Labour Studies in Germany as part of the round table discussion ‘International Labour Market and Labour Mobility: Russian–German Student Research Projects’.

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The University of Applied Labour Studies is a small corporate university that trains employees for employment services in Germany. The history of its cooperation with St Petersburg University began two years ago during the 2nd International Labour Forum, when colleagues from Germany and Moscow State University got acquainted with the research of St Petersburg University scholars. ‘Our university works closely with colleagues from EU countries, but it is also important for us to establish contacts with colleagues from Russia. The approaches to conducting research into labour market issues and, in particular, into labour migration, are significantly different in our countries. So, we learn a lot from each other in the process of working together,’ said Andreas Jankowitsch, the Chancellor of the German University.

Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector of St Petersburg University, also noted the importance of a comprehensive study of such a complex issue as labour migration.

Labour mobility is currently playing a significant role in shaping the global labour market.

Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector of St Petersburg University

‘Certain challenges, including to education, are raised by digitalisation. How will it affect labour migration? Will the same need for migrants that exists today continue, or will distant forms of work replace current trends?’ Elena Chernova outlined the range of key issues for discussion.

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Professor of St Petersburg University Vera Minina and associate professors Olesia Verediuk and Olga Nikiforova spoke in detail about how the work within the international research group is organised. Each project involves Russian and German students supervised by their teachers. Almost all the time, project participants interact with each other online, placing the received data into folders in the cloud storage. At present, digitalisation in education makes it possible to implement such international student research without the need for frequent flights.

As Vera Minina said, students of various academic programmes studied migration issues. ‘Our team involves students studying European societies. There are economists who are researching the labour market, as well as specialists in personnel management. Thanks to this multidisciplinary approach, we can explore how best to establish communication with migrants and how to avoid stigmatisation and labelling. It is necessary to be able to speak a language that is understandable to both sides,’ noted Vera Minina.

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In addition to team building within the student team, representatives of the German and Russian universities noted the importance of the work of the research supervisors of their projects.

For me, mentoring, which is felt by both the teacher and the student, plays a special role in the work at the University. In my opinion, a real mentor should not explain to the student where he or she has made a mistake, but should help figure out why it has happened and how to avoid such results in the future.

Olga Nikiforova, Associate Professor of St Petersburg University

At the end of the discussion, the experts agreed that international student research projects are an important part of the educational process. Students can not only learn in the project something new in their profession, but also understand better the culture of another country and make new contacts. Summing up the event Professor Vera Minina noted that the Labour Forum is an excellent platform for meeting future partners.

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