Cluster of Earth sciences
The Union State’s scientific and educational space is ever expanding. Recently, the Rector of the Belarusian State University, Sergei Ablameiko, joined the Rector of the Russian State Geological Prospecting University (named after Sergo Ordzhonikidzе), Vasily Lisov, in signing an agreement to establish the Centre for Earth Science.
By Vladimir Yakovlev
The Centre will involve leading universities and scientific organisations from Belarus and Russia, which have long maintained close relations regarding training of specialists. Moscow and St. Petersburg’s mining universities are to be involved, as will a number of other universities and institutes in Perm. They are to be joined by specialists from the National Academy of Sciences, the Belarusian State Technological University and the National Technical University. Their co-operation has reached such a level that co-ordination and a joint strategy in training young staff have become essential.
The State Science and Technology Committee of Belarus is also keen to become involved. The idea has been discussed at various levels and, as a result, Russian universities and scientific research institutes have entrusted the Russian State Geological Prospecting University (named after Sergo Ordzhonikidzе) to represent their interests at the Centre. The BSU will be fulfilling the same function for Belarusian universities.
Belarus is keen to collaborate efficiently. Mikhail Zhuravkov, the First Pro-rector of the BSU, tells us that the country is rich in such minerals as potassium salt, oil, sand, granite and others used in the construction industry. The development of potentially profitable deposits of brown coal and shale gas are next in line. The move will reinforce Belarus’ economic security but may impact on the ecological environment, since extraction is no easy matter. Naturally, complex scientific solutions will be necessary, alongside the employment of qualified personnel.
In Soviet times, such experts were trained mostly at Russian universities. However, Belarus is now a leading force in the mining industry. Belgorkhimprom Institute fulfils orders for enterprises not only in Belarus but in Russia, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Vietnam. The branch’s development will require the training of a large number of specialists who are familiar with the realities of life in Belarus.
“Our Geographical Department occupies a leading position,” notes Mr. Zhuravkov. “We’re now teaching mathematics, physics, chemistry and IT, in addition to core subjects. This is a very serious layer of natural science; it’s difficult to separate engineering and science so we plan to establish a Department of Earth Sciences.”
The new Belarusian-Russian Centre will support such teaching, promoting the academic exchange of undergraduates and postgraduates, organising links between leading Belarusian and Russian universities. Joint student research, seminars and the teaching of mining practices are to be introduced, with the training of scientific and pedagogical staff given special priority. At present, Belarusian university students can take a Candidate’s Degree at the BSU, continuing their education at leading Russian universities and scientific research institutes. Undoubtedly, the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experience benefits everyone. Mr. Zhuravkov underlines the advantages offered by such interaction within the Union State, saying, “Students and teachers from Russia and Belarus can travel between both countries freely, without visas or restrictions; this removes a great many difficulties. Moreover, students are covered for emergency health care, as envisaged by corresponding agreements; colleagues from other CIS states envy us in this respect.”
Russians, especially from the border regions, and from Siberia and Central Russia, are eagerly using these advantages. Several hundred youngsters are already studying at the BSU, entering this most prestigious Belarusian university on equal terms with local students. Depending on the number of points earned during centralised tests, they can be enrolled at subsidised rates.
Of course, it isn’t convenient for all Russians to travel to Belarus to take tests when they have to pass the unified state exam at home at the same time. Accordingly, from this year, those from EurAsEC states, including those from Russia, can enter the BSU as a result of interview, as can those from non-CIS states, while saving 15 percent on fees.
The departments of international relations, as well as those connected with the most advanced technologies, enjoy special popularity among young Russians.
Returning to the Belarusian-Russian Centre for Earth Sciences, there’s no doubt that it will play an important co-ordinating role in developing and implementing scientific programmes financed from the Union State budget. Two drafts — Entrails and Monitoring — are being currently developed.
“Of course, in this respect, financial support from the Union State budget is vital,” stresses Mr. Zhuravkov. “We’ll be attending seminars at related universities and scientific research institutes. Meanwhile, our joint research programmes will gain access to the latest databases, enabling us to more easily solve global tasks. The National Academy of Sciences will act as a customer and co-ordinator of these programmes in Belarus; our university plans to take full advantage of this.”
In October, representatives of leading Belarusian universities, scientific research institutes and enterprises will attend a seminar in Moscow, jointly planning a programme for the Centre for Earth Sciences.