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November 9-10, 2017, Nuremberg, a unique event of its kind took place – the first Bavarian-Russian conference on economics.

November 9-10, 2017, Nuremberg, a unique event of its kind took place – the first Bavarian-Russian conference on economics. It brought together nearly 180 representatives of universities, scientific organizations and business circles from Russia and Bavaria.

The initiative for the conference came from Bavaria. The conference organizers were the Bavarian Academic Center for Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (BAYHOST) and the Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg (FAU). The conference was held under the patronage of the State Minister of Bavaria for Education, Culture, Science and Art. The Russian Publishing House of the Accreditation in Education and its novel international project and Higher Education Discovery (HED) journal were the media partners of the conference.

There are more than 100 partnerships between higher education institutions from Bavaria and Russia today. According to a survey among Bavarian institutes of higher education, the majority intend to initiate new or extend existing academic cooperation with Russia.

Nikolas Djukic, the BAYHOST Executive Director, therefore, had an idea of creating such conference: "Up to now, the academic cooperation between Bavaria and Russia has been prevalent in the natural sciences. By this conference, we wanted to strengthen contacts in the field of economic sciences."

The reason for the Bavarian side's special interest in the sphere of economics and management is obvious - more than 1,000 Bavarian companies maintain business contacts with Russia. The support and assistance from higher education is required for the development of economic relations: only universities can train qualified specialists for further Bavarian-Russian cooperation and support this cooperation by conducting appropriate scientific research.

One of the main features of the conference was its practical format - it was conceived as a platform for acquaintanceship between participants from the Russian and Bavarian parties and as a medium for discussing new joint projects in the field of education and research.

The conference program included examples of best practices from successful Russian-Bavarian university partnerships, cooperation proposals, individual consultations on the possibilities of financial support for academic cooperation from the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), as well as subject sections on economics, management and energy economics - spheres that play an important role both for Russia and Bavaria.

Professor Alexei Kuznetsov, head of the Center for European Studies at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations: "I liked the idea of ​​such conference. I don't know if it's a pioneer project, but I haven't heard about the attempt from the German side to bring together scientists from various Russian universities and try to initialize a new type of cooperation at one forum before."

Sergei Mikadze, vice-rector for administrative work at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics (SPbSUE), opened the conference with a report entitled "German-Russian Economic Relations in the Context of EU Sanctions." In his opinion, the level of the conference made it impossible not to participate in it: "Firstly, we were interested in the theme of the conference, and secondly, here are our friends who we are always glad to meet." SPbSEU maintains successful partnerships with 8 Bavarian universities and 40 universities in Germany altogether. Thanks to these connections, 40 - 70 German students come to the university each term. The delegation from SPbSEU managed to meet with the majority of Bavarian partners and discuss further projects at the conference. Sergei Mikadze and Professor Tatyana Nikitina, director of the International Center for Investigating the Current Problems of Financial Markets of SPbSEU, noted that the conference that had brought together representatives of leading Russian universities was also a good platform for acquaintanceship between Russian colleagues: "We had to come to Nuremberg to get to know my colleagues from all regions of Russia." Professor Tatyana Nikitina: "Our university, which has a unique experience of cooperation with Germany, is ready to actively share this experience and involve regional Russian universities in cooperation through various network projects."

Professor Sergey Falco, Head of the Department "Economics and organization of production" of Bauman Moscow State Technical University: "I received information from my German colleagues that there will be a very interesting conference where one can look for partners in the areas of interest, in our case, in Systems Engineering. And I really found three potential partners here, we exchanged contacts. Then we will start exchanging study programs, at the next stage we will organize short-term seminars, and then, as financing will be developed, there will be academic exchange. So the event was useful, I got a little more than I expected. "

Dr. Sirke Mäkinen and Dr. Svetlana Shenderova, researchers from the University of Tampere (Finland) took part in the conference at the special invitation of the organizers: "The first Bavarian-Russian conference on economic sciences represented adequately the Bavarian and Russian universities that are planning or are already implementing cooperation in the field of higher education. It was very important for the EDUneighbours project team to acquaint the authoritative audience of the conference with the first results of double degree programs and cooperation in higher education between the universities of Finland and Russia. I would like to wish this conference to become a regular event with a well-balanced program representing both the scientific and educational potential of the universities of Bavaria, Germany, other European countries and Russia, and the developing models of their cooperation."

Professor Ulrich Bauer, Dean for Educational Activities, Faculty of Tourism, University of Applied Sciences, Kempten: "I came here because I already had my first contacts with Russian colleagues, but they were not systematic. And I wanted them to become systematic, I wanted to learn more, to establish new connections with colleagues ... And I really established a whole series of very interesting and completely new contacts for me with my Russian colleagues,  which seem to be able to give rise to two different, very interesting projects".

Professor Vasily Nilipovsky, Vice-Rector for International Affairs of State University of Land Use Planning, commented on his participation in the conference: "I have something to compare, so I can note not only a very high level of organization, but interesting reports on the current economic topics, but most importantly - the growing keen interest in deepening cooperation between Bavaria and the Russian regions, as well as Germany and Russia as a whole. In this sense, the Nuremberg conference in the language of chemists has become a kind of litmus test of the status of our relationship. Fortunately for all - both organizers and participants - it showed that today we have a sufficiently favorable environment for the creation and implementation of new joint educational and scientific projects. It is only necessary for all of us to work more actively."

Professor Peter Welzel, Vice President for Research and International Development, University of Augsburg: "The conference provided an excellent opportunity to get an idea of ​​the Russian landscape of higher education in the field of economic sciences and to establish contacts. A very good addition to this were reports on existing partner projects. Many thanks to the organizers!"

Photo: Giulia Iannicelli

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