Kyriakos Pogiatzis, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in St Petersburg and Head of the Council of the academic programme ‘Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic Philology’ at St Petersburg University, has paid an official visit to the University.
The meeting with the Rector of St Petersburg University addressed issues such as: the development of educational cooperation; the joint development of online courses; the establishment of a representative office of the University; and the conclusion of direct contracts with the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture.
Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev presented a number of proposals aimed at developing cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus in the sphere of science and education. First of all, he came up with an initiative to establish a representative office of the University and increase the number of testing centres for Russian as a foreign language. At present, there is only one such centre in Cyprus, whereas there are seven in Greece and already more than ten in China.
Nikolay Kropachev said that recently, with the support of the Centre of the Russian Language and Culture ‘Russian Word’ St Petersburg University launched a lecture course on the history of Russia with a focus on the interaction between the two countries. In this regard, he proposed to start the joint development of online courses, one of which could be dedicated to the study of the Greek language and the history of Cyprus. The Rector of St Petersburg University added that the University holds a leading position in the Russian online education market. It is also the only Russian university that hosts its courses on the Chinese national platform XuetangX, and is one of the top five in terms of content among all organisations worldwide whose online courses are presented on the international learning platform Coursera.
Nikolay Kropachev spoke about double degree programmes with foreign partners and suggested that the Consul General consider establishing a double degree programme in tourism with one of the leading universities in Cyprus. Such a joint academic programme could be developed with the participation of employers from both the Republic of Cyprus and Russia, who can then become employers of highly qualified personnel. It was decided to hold discussions with the directors of the institutes on the prospects of developing degree academic programmes based on the double degree model in cooperation with universities and tourism companies in countries where tourism is developed.
During the conversation Kyriakos Pogiatzis noted the high importance for Cyprus of the cooperation with St Petersburg University experts in the field of Byzantine and New-Hellenic philology. He said that although he has been Consul General for only three months, he has had enough time to appreciate the high level of the University's graduates.
I am honoured to be within the walls of this historic place, whose graduates include a whole constellation of Russian artists and scientists. St Petersburg University is a highly respected institution in St Petersburg, but its fame extends far beyond the city.
Kyriakos Pogiatzis, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in St Petersburg
'There is now a worldwide reflection on the direction in which higher education should evolve. Many believe that most of the money allocated to the system should be spent on creating innovation: although the knowledge accumulated in the past is important, it does not fully meet the requirements of the modern world. In my view, there is value in both developing new thoughts and ideas and preserving existing expertise,' said Kyriakos Pogiatzis. 'I believe that such fields as linguistics are of great importance, since language to a large extent reflects a people's world view, and I therefore consider it very important to give attention to the humanities.'
Kyriakos Pogiatzis supported the proposal of the Rector of St Petersburg University to jointly develop online courses. He remarked that over the last decade the need for lifelong learning has become apparent and distance learning has become a convenient tool to meet this need. The Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus also added that online courses should be offered not only to students but also to people who are currently working or have retired in order to give them an opportunity to continue their studies using modern technology.
Returning to the issue of establishing testing centres for Russian as a foreign language, Kyriakos Pogiatzis said that he would send an enquiry to the Cyprus Ministry of Education to find out what the needs are today and outline a plan for further action. He also said that in addition to the testing centre in Limassol, there is the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Nicosia, which has been active for the last ten years and has a great weight in the cultural life of the island. According to the diplomat, St Petersburg has always been associated with culture and art for Cypriots. In this regard, he made a proposal to organise cooperation between the museums of the Republic of Cyprus and St Petersburg University, which has rich museum collections.
Nikolay Kropachev agreed, noting that the University is prepared to share its experience. He also suggested: collaboration with the staff of the Department of Museum Management and Historical Monuments Preservation headed by Mikhail Piotrovsky; and establishing contacts between Cyprus theatre academies and the Faculty of Arts at St Petersburg University headed by Valery Gergiev. The Rector of the University also countered with a wish to conclude a direct agreement with the Cyprus Ministry of Culture.
As a result of the talks, Kyriakos Pogiatzis asked that a sample agreement on the establishment of a representative office of St Petersburg University be sent to the Consulate General of the Republic of Cyprus in St Petersburg.