St Petersburg University has been visited by Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, the Ambassador of France for the Poles and Maritime Issues. The purpose of the visit was to get acquainted with the experience of St Petersburg University in the study of the Arctic region.

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Welcoming the Ambassador, Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, noted that St Petersburg University is the oldest higher educational institution in Russia. Among its alumni are nine Nobel Prize Winners, and six prime ministers and two presidents of the Russian Federation.

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Sergey Andryushin emphasised particularly that Arctic research is one of the leading areas of research and academic activities of St Petersburg University. Some academic programmes of the University focus on  polar and marine sciences, and cold regions environmental landscapes integrated science.

The University offers a wide range of academic programmes. Their number is now approaching 480. There are also about 800 non-degree academic programmes at St Petersburg University. Additionally, the University has almost 1,500 agreements with employers from the private and public sectors.

Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs

In his turn, Sergey Aplonov, Director of the Arctic Research Centre, pointed out that since 2012 St Petersburg University has been a member of the world's most authoritative academic association – the University of the Arctic. It unites more than 200 universities and research centres in Europe, Russia, the USA, Canada, and non-Arctic states. It was St Petersburg University that in September 2016 hosted the first ever Uarctic Congress. In 2018, St Petersburg University and UArctic established the  Analytical Centre for Arctic Research.

All routes to the Arctic start from St Petersburg. This has been the case since the very outset of the Russian Empire.

Sergey Aplonov, Director of the Arctic Research Centre

Sergey Aplonov also told the guests from France about two Arctic programmes that are taught in English at St Petersburg University: Cold Region Environment Landscapes Integrated Science (CORELIS) and Polar and Marine Sciences (POMOR).

Climate change is a global challenge that requires humanity to join forces in the fight for the future of the planet. Grigory Fedorov, Associate Professor in the Department of Geomorphology at St Petersburg University, spoke about this. Also, he emphasised separately the importance of research in palaeoclimate of the polar regions of the Earth, which is also being conducted at the University. ‘We will never be able to understand the future of climate change without studying the past,’ said Associate Professor Fedorov.

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Taking the floor, Mr Olivier Poivre d'Arvor, the Ambassador of France for the Poles and Maritime Issues, rated highly the University’s projects to study the Arctic region. He suggested that cooperation in this area of study should be increased. Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, supported Mr Olivier Poivre d'Arvor. He specified that more intensive cooperation should take place not only at the level of the embassy, but also at the level of universities in France.

St Petersburg University can rightfully be called the most ‘French’ university in St Petersburg and even in Russia. We have already established close cooperation not only with the Sorbonne, but also with other universities in France.

Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs

Sergey Aplonov, Director of the Arctic Research Centre, added that St Petersburg University is currently cooperating on Arctic issues with Norway, Germany, and Finland. He said that France should also become an active participant in this interaction.

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For reference: Mr Olivier Poivre d'Arvor was appointed the Ambassador of France for the Poles and Maritime Issues in November 2020. This was his first visit to Russia in this position. In March 2018, Ségolène Royal, who previously served as the French Ambassador for the Arctic and Antarctic, addressed the students of St Petersburg University and met with Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University.