In a move that can be seen as an attempt to correct the mistakes of the past, top officials of a Russian university say that the country wants to leave the "closed" system of Soviet-era universities behind and embrace increased internationalisation in its system of education, including in science and technology.
Talking to a select group of journalists from around the world on Tuesday, Alevtina Chernikova, Rector of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) MISIS, advocated "opening up of borders".
"Even as the politicians the world over seem to be busy defending borders, we want opening up of borders. We belive that the world is our common house," said Chernikova, under whose leadership the university came to be known as one of the leading universities of the world as per the QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Commending India's achievements in the information technology (IT) sector and speaking of the importance of Indian students in the university, she said that the university hopes India's partnership with Russia to strengthen even further.
"Russia is already in a strategic partnership with India," she pointed out.
Emphasising that Russia will gain from opening up of its universities, Mikhail Filonov, Vice Rector of NUST MISIS said that the country "lost a lot" due to the earlier "closed" education system.
"Soviet-era science and technology universities were closed to international students as they wanted to generate secret scientific results for the defence of the union," Filionov said.
"Until recenty, Russian universities were also 'closed'. Things have changed only in the past 8-10 years as Russian government belives that it was a bad practice.
"We were confined to our own silos. This is our problem and we are trying to change that," Filonov said, adding that NUST MISIS makes no distinction between Russian and foreign students," he added.
NUST MISIS, which became the first Russian University to have a foreign Vice Rector -- Timothy O' Connor who hails from the US -- has nearly 20 per cent foreign students.
The university has a total of 17,000 students, including 3,300 foreign students from 69 countries.
In 2017, for the first time ever, the university was simultaneously featured in several subjects of the Times Higher Education, QS and Shanghai Ranking Consultancy's Academic Ranking of World Universities.
In 2018, the university meade it to the "Top-30" world universities specialising in mining engineering, as per the QS World University Rankings by Subject.
Connor, who preferred to make his presentation in front of the visiting journalists in the Russian language "as a mark of respect" to the country, said that the university offers nine Masters' programme in which, English can be used as a medium of instruction.
Chernikova, however, said that the focus of the university is currently not on increasing the number of foreign students but on attracting the best talents -- whether they are from Russia or anywhere else.
"We are focused more on quality than quantity," she said.
The university specifically focuses on integrating science, education and innovations, and has partnership with about 1,600 companies in areas of research and development.
By 2020, NUST MISIS aims to further consolidate its strong positions in a number of areas, including in material sciences, metallurgy and mining, as well as strongly strengthen its presence in bio-materials, nano- and IT-technologies.
The university recently established a centre to produce state-of-the art industrial prototypes.
With its digital ecosystem and 3D-printing technology, the centre is designed to build sophisticated functional digital outputs and systems for multiple sectors including aerospace industry, biological engineering, medicine, space exploration and defence technologies.
(Gokul Bhagabati is in Moscow at the invitation of National University of Science and Technology MISIS. He can be contacted at email@example.com)
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