St Petersburg University has been visited by a delegation of Universidad Panamericana (Mexico). The key topics of the meeting were: participation in student mobility programmes; the admission of foreign students to degree and non-degree academic programmes; as well as the development of scientific inter-university cooperation.
Santiago García Álvarez, Rector Campus México of Universidad Panamericana, said that about 400 students are sent annually to study abroad under student mobility programmes. Interestingly, the most popular destination among Mexican students is not the United States, Canada or the countries of South America, but Europe. They tend to choose universities in France and Germany, but nowadays there is an increasing interest in studying in Russia. In this regard, Mr Alvarez proposed establishing inter-university cooperation in academic exchanges. He said that although Universidad Panamericana was founded just over 50 years ago, it is already respected in society and ranked first among Mexican universities in such disciplines as medicine, law, industrial engineering, and pedagogy. The university has also developed such field of study as public policy. Among its graduates is Enrique Peña Nieto, an ex-president of Mexico. Other proposed areas for cooperation were those in arts and management. The Business School of Universidad Panamericana (Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresa) issues MBA certificates and holds high positions in world rankings. Liliana Alvarez Tostado, Director of the International Affairs Office of Universidad Panamericana, added that the university is interested in creating double degree programmes, as well as in developing academic cooperation, including that in Ibero-American studies. She stressed that it is important that it should not be just documents, but joint projects should be of benefit to Russia and Mexico.
Anna Porodina, Assistant for General Issues of the Deputy Rector for International Affairs of St Petersburg University, noted that due to the geographical distance, student and teaching mobility between the universities of the two countries is not so high. It is important to note that these exchanges are not linguistic for the most part, but specialised internships in various areas of studies: from physics and mathematics to political science and economics. ‘We understand that among our students and teachers there is an interest in participating in such programmes. Every year, St Petersburg University hosts and sends about 800 students who take part in internship programmes, including students from Mexico. Participants in academic exchange programmes have the opportunity to master specialised disciplines in English. At the same time, a significant number of students come specifically to study the Russian language and can start it even from a starter level,’ said Anna Porodina. ‘Additionally, the University is student-oriented and makes it possible for them not only to choose courses, but also to do research guided by scientific supervisors from St Petersburg University.’ She also added that the scholarship programme for young scientists, which is implemented with the support of Santander Bank, has contributed to the development of research contacts. Every two years, St Petersburg University hosts a high-profile forum, which is dedicated to the state and evolution of Russian–Latin American relations. According to Professor Viktor Kheifets of the Department of Theory and History of International Relations of St Petersburg University, 650 scholars and representatives of the world of politics are expected to participate this year. Among them are: María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 73rd session; Igor Ivanov, the President of Russian International Affairs Council, professor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia; Isidro Morales Moreno, a scholar at the Baker Institute Center for the United States and Mexico, Editor in Chief of Latin American Policy journal; and others experts.