ITMO International Days: International Collaboration as One of the Main Trends
For three years already, ITMO has been conducting the International Days in St. Petersburg, during which representatives from foreign universities get to learn about ITMO’s unique infrastructure, as well as present their own establishments. Students, researchers and lecturers from all over the world participate in round tables, get tours of ITMO University, and collaborate on developing new educational programs.
At the opening of the International Days, Daria Kozlova, ITMO’s Vice Rector for International Relations, greeted her foreign colleagues and explained to them ITMO’s infrastructure in detail. She emphasized that one of its essential parts is the creative student environment which contributes to efficient training of students; the Vice Rector also spoke about ITMO’s research, its international research laboratories and five Schools which offer a variety of programs to students from different countries.
“Each semester we welcome foreign students from many different countries. As of now, we have students from 71 different states. Some have their programs in Russian, some - in English; that depends on how well they know these languages and also on the programs’ goals. We offer all kinds of programs: short-term and long-term programs, courses of Russian as a foreign language, summer schools, double degree programs, etc.” shared Daria Kozlova.
According to Ekaterina Tulugurova, head of ITMO’s International Educational Programs Department, this year most of the guests were representatives of universities that, though they’ve had a long history of collaborating with ITMO, never took part in International Days before; the only exception was the delegation from ITMO’s long-standing partner, the University of Eastern Finland. Among the newcomers were such renowned universities as ParisTech, University of Technology of Troyes and ESIEE Paris from France, Tampere University of Technology and JAMK University of Applied Sciences from Finland and Germany’s Ilmenau University of Technology.
“We follow the same strategy as in the previous years: we show our guests as much of our university as possible: its many laboratories, buildings, departments, and get them to meet our staff. Surely, we want to see even more talented and motivated students at our university. Photonics, optics and computer science being our focus doesn’t mean that we don’t have programs in other areas of science. We regularly accept applications for our programs in economics, mechatronics, physics, chemistry, etc. We assess a student’s scores, motivation and choice, and based on that we make a decision,” comments Ekaterina Tulugurova.
At ITMO International Days, participants work out new agreements and contracts that contribute to the development of their universities’ international collaboration. For instance, ITMO University and ParisTech are discussing(considering) the launch of a new joint educational program this year.
According to the organizers, the collaboration with this university is developing rapidly and many students from both sides participate in academic mobility programs. ParisTech has a great optical institution, and their representatives have already come to ITMO several times before to present their educational programs in this field and discuss the possibilities of launching double degree programs with ITMO University. The last meeting dedicated to this topic was about three weeks ago, and now the organizers plan to continue the discussion. The main problem that stands before them is the difference in the Master’s programs’ duration: in ParisTech, Master’s students study for three years and at ITMO they study for two years. Yet representatives of both universities promised to find a solution to that.
During the first day of the event guests from foreign universities were given tours of ITMO’s Museum of Optics and ITMO Technopark’s FabLab. They then participated in round tables on strategies for attracting foreign students and supporting them, skills and approaches to teaching technical sciences, as well as discussed the importance of strategical partnerships between universities.
During the second day, ITMO’s students got the chance to learn more about different foreign partner universities and ask questions about their programs, educational process and living conditions, which was most relevant for exchange students who will go to study at these universities in autumn. Such events help students become more sure of themselves and better adapt to new educational environments. The second day’s round table was dedicated to ITMO’s best practices of attracting foreign students and onsequences of introduction of tuition fees.