Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods of St Petersburg University and the head of administration of the Association of Leading Universities of Russia, and Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, met online with Professor Mei-Fen Chen, the president of the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan. The parties discussed the possibilities of organising an online forum for the Russian and Taiwan universities as well as perspectives of expanding cooperation in the field of higher education.
During the meeting Mei-Fen Chen spoke about the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET) as a platform that unites more than 100 universities of the island. It introduces them to foreign applicants who want to get a higher education in the Republic of China. The Foundation has a rich experience of collaboration with a range of countries. However, cooperation with Russia is yet to be established.
We know very well the high standards of education of Russian universities. This is why we highly appreciate the possibility of collaboration with Russian partners.
Professor Mei-Fen Chen, the president of the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan
‘Unfortunately, we have not had the possibility to build close contacts with Russian universities so far; our cooperation has never been strong enough. I hope that this year with the help of St Petersburg University and the Association of Leading Universities of Russia the situation will finally change.’ The president of the Foundation suggested arranging an international forum together with St Petersburg University. In her opinion, such an event could jump-start the development of the collaboration between the two countries in the sphere of higher education. Representatives of the leading universities of Russia and Taiwan could share their experience, discuss actual issues, and find ways of addressing them.
Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods of St Petersburg University said that the University always welcomes cooperation. This is why it is ready to be a part of such a large and important event. According to Marina Lavrikova, this year key issues everyone will inevitably face are digitalisation and distant learning. Due to the coronavirus pandemic universities had to solve many new problems. For example, they had to start various crisis centres to help students adjust to a new and unfamiliar educational and assessment format.
Another topic interesting both to the Russian and Taiwan universities could be creating and launching of massive open access online courses. St Petersburg University began developing such online courses long before the pandemic. Today, it is a separate and independent area at the University, and moving online spurred it on. Online courses of St Petersburg University are available on different platforms: openedu.ru, Stepik, Coursera, XuetangX. They have become popular and highly demanded all around the World. The courses that were developed by the teachers of St Petersburg University are included in academic programmes at more than 50 universities of Russia. Also, the participants of the Forum could discuss the issue of the consequences of the pandemic for education and for implementation of international academic projects.
Due to the pandemic restrictions in Russia and other countries, it was decided to hold the meeting of the Russian and Taiwan universities online. Marina Lavrikova pointed out that during the pandemic online format proved to be very effective. It simplified the organisation of events and foreign colleagues could meet before the boarders open again. She added that the international students who entered St Petersburg University this year and were not able to come to St Petersburg successfully and efficiently study online. ‘We need to search for the forms of collaboration beyond restrictions,’ Marina Lavrikova said. ‘Our experience of cooperation with the universities of different countries shows that even in the present circumstances a high level of interaction can be achieved.’
The meeting also discussed the question of building contacts between the Foundation for
International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan and the Association of Leading Universities of Russia. Sergey Andryushin said that the Association is ready for dialogue and suggested that they should start working on an agreement. As a result of the talks, the parties decided to exchange their ideas on the list of the topics to be discussed on the international forum.