One of the main objectives of the rector of North Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, Russia, Dr. Evgenia Isaevna Mikhailova, is to expand and strengthen international cooperation. To improve the academic quality of education, research and development work, this is a necessary move. The University of the Arctic gives many opportunities for that, for instance the thematic networks established to implement the policies of the UArctic and the member institutions.

At a recent meeting with the rector and the director of the Institute of Finance and Economics at NEFU, Dr. Natalia Okhlopkova, several concrete education, research and development projects and programs initiated by the UArctic thematic network on local and regional development were discussed, among others, a joint applied international master program in Rural Development, currently under planning. The rector recognized the important research and development work done in rural areas, including indigenous communities, in Yakutia since 2009, by the institute and network partners from Canada, Finland and Norway. Local development workshops and business schools have been organized in 6 municipalities in four different regions of the republic, the last one in Iengra, a small Evenk community of 950 inhabitants in the region of Neringri in southern Yakutia. An impressive number of new social and productive projects have been developed and initiated in the rural municipalities and regions included in the international development project. At the business school in Iengra last week, 23 participants, mainly Evenks, developed and presented 16 proposals for new businesses in the community, from a local pharmacy to green house production of organic vegetables. To support the new entrepreneurs a local development partnership, including representatives of the municipal administration, the regional branch of Institute of Finance and Economics/NEFU, and the UArctic thematic network on local and regional development, was formed.

Tor_NEFUHighest on NEFU’s agenda for international cooperation you find the development of joint study programs. Evgenia Isaevna Mikhailova, former minister of education and vice-president of the republic, promised at the meeting last week to give the applied international master program in Rural Development all the necessary support. She wants to increase the number of bachelor and master courses taught in English, both on the university’s summer school program and in the university’s ordinary study programs. She invited international members of the thematic network, Canadian, Finnish and Norwegian scholars, to help develop new international course and study programs, including UArctic advanced emphasis courses on both bachelor and master level.

To achieve this and other important goals in the internationalisation policies of NEFU the rector want to increase student and teacher exchange. Because of the reduced number of scholarships available for international students that want to follow UArctic course and study programs abroad, like the advanced emphasis course in Management of local and regional development (MLRD) at Finnmark University College (FiUC) in Alta, Norway, the new internationalization policies of NEFU are facing some problems. To solve this bottleneck, the rector suggested that the university in Yakutsk could provide economical support for up to 100 students seeking different specializations abroad. According to her, more than 20 of these students, could take the MLRD-program in Alta. Interest for northern studies is growing rapidly among Yakutian students, partly thanks to the work of the UArctic thematic network. During my last engagement at the Institute of Finance and Ec