The first Russia-UK University Rectors Forum took place on November 12, 2019 and focused on national higher education policies and frameworks to support increased bilateral collaboration. The main themes of the second Forum were academic mobility, joint educational programs, scientific collaboration in priority areas, and development of youth cooperation.
The second Forum was attended by heads and representatives of 35 universities and academic communities from Russia and the UK. Special Representative of Russian President on International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy, British Ambassador in Russia Deborah Bronnert, and Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation Valery Falkov addressed the Forum participants.
Among other relevant themes the Forum focused on Russian-British academic cooperation in the Arctic. According to “Adapting To Change: UK policy towards the Arctic” (2013) the UK being “the Arctic’s nearest neighbour” aims to show leadership on Arctic matters of global importance where appropriate, for example in combating the causes of climate change that is having such an effect on the Arctic. The United Kingdom can offer expertise to help meet some of the long-term challenges facing the region. The Russian priorities for development of its Arctic Zone include scientific and technological development along with international collaboration and environmental safety, which creates a ground for enhancing cooperation in higher education and research between the two countries.
The Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU) was represented at the second Russia-UK University Rectors Forum by Rector Elena Kudryashova, UArctic Board Vice-Chair, and Marina Kalinina, Rector’s Advisor on International Cooperation, UArctic Vice-President Interregional Cooperation. NArFU has been engaged in joint Arctic initiatives and projects with partners from the UK since 2017.
In 2017−2018, within the UK–Russia Year of Science and Education, the UArctic Research Office at NArFU implemented the project “Development of the UK-Russia Arctic Research and Collaboration Network” which was thematically focused on changing Arctic from the perspective of the Russia`s State Program on the Arctic Zone Development and “Adapting to Change: UK policy towards the Arctic”, and aimed to provide opportunities for advanced discussions on Arctic research agenda and further collaboration prospects between Russian and British scientists, including activities within UArctic. Within the framework of this project, research seminars were run both in the UK and Russia, hosted by the University of Aberdeen, the Scott Polar Research Institute and the Northern (Arctic) Federal University. The seminars became a meeting place for one hundred Arctic scientists from 45 Russian and British institutions.
The cooperation continued successfully within two important themes: Arctic education and international collaboration. In 2018, a UK-Finland-Russia Workshop “Sharing best practices in Arctic education” co-organized by UArctic, NArFU, and UK Research and Innovation Network in Russia was held within the UArctic Congress 2018 in Helsinki. In 2019, experts from NArFU, NERC Arctic Office and UK Science and Innovation Network organized a joint session “UK-Russia Arctic Scientific Cooperation. Towards a better understanding of the changing Arctic” within Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) in Arkhangelsk. In 2021, NArFU representative participated in the session “The Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation: Empowering Institutions and Individuals” held by UK Science and Innovation Network within UArctic Congress 2021 in Reykjavik. In December 2021 Dr. Marina Kalinina (NArFU) moderated the UK Russia University Alliance Forum “Arctic Research & Education: Driving Forward International Collaboration” which focused on UK-Russia collaborative work including potential areas, tools and synergies for closer cooperation in the future. The upcoming UArctic Congress 2022, which will take place at Moscow State University on October 4-7, will provide opportunities for new meetings and further development of the UK-Russia collaboration in education and research.
The Ceremony of signing Charter Launching UK-Russia Student Association which took place within the second Russia-UK University Rectors Forum in Moscow marked the beginning of the Russia-UK Cross Year of Knowledge.