A delegation of the Vietnamese Embassy in Russia headed by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ngo Duc Manh visited St Petersburg University. Negotiations with the head of the diplomatic mission were conducted by SPbU Rector Nikolay Kropachev.

During the meeting, the parties discussed potential strengthening of their educational partnership. Opening the meeting, the Rector noted that today Vietnamese studies at St Petersburg University are developed within the framework of several educational programmes, and further on their number may be increased.

Three years ago we began developing interdisciplinary educational programmes with a foreign component. That became possible due to the support of our international colleagues: in the case of the Republic of Korea these are partner universities, and a direct contract has been signed with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

SPbU Rector Nikolay Kropachev

At present the University is implementing the following programmes of this type: "Law (with Advanced Studies in Chinese Language and Law)", "Economics (with Advanced Studies in Chinese Economy and Language)", and this year students will be enrolled on the programme "Law (with Advanced Studies in Japanese Language and Law)."

Cooperation between SPbU and its Vietnamese partners may also be developed within the framework of the educational programme councils. The Rector emphasised that St Petersburg University and Moscow State University are the only universities in Russia to be eligible to establish their own educational standards. To this end, the University introduced educational programme councils consisting of external experts, who set forth the requirements to academic disciplines teaching, to the competences of applicants, students and graduates, and can initiate the creation of new programmes. The Rector suggested that the Ambassador consider the opportunity of heading the councils of the programmes devoted to studies of the Vietnamese language, art and culture. He also noted that, following the proposals of the Vietnamese colleagues, in-depth study of Vietnam within the framework of the existing educational programmes in philosophy, economics, tourism, culture, history and many other areas is possible, as well as the inclusion of Vietnamese representatives into the councils of these programmes.

The councils of the bachelor programme "Modern Greek, Byzantine and Modern Greek Philology" and master programme "Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Philology" are headed by Costas Kadis, Minister of Education and Culture of Cyprus; the council for the "German Language" programme includes the German Ambassador to Russia Rüdiger von Fritsch; Lu Hao, Governor of the Heilongjiang province, China, is Chairperson of the council of the programme "Economics (with Advanced Studies in Chinese Economy and Language)".

Creation of scientific collaborations could be one more important area of ​​cooperation. Professor Kropachev said that in 2015 SPbU became the first Russian university to be listed in the Top 100 scientific and educational institutions in the world in terms of growth in the number of publications in the journals belonging to the Nature and Science groups, and in 2016 SPbU employees authored half of all the scientific publications issued in St Petersburg. The interaction between SPbU and foreign scientists is also very important here.

Over the past five years we have increased the number of scientific publications written in collaboration with our foreign colleagues by three to six times: the indicator varies depending on the country.

SPbU Rector Nikolay Kropachev

To establish contact with the Vietnamese academic community, he suggested that SPbU shall organise presentations for the rectors of Vietnamese universities, and in the future — hold teleconferences between scientists of our countries. Marina Lavrikova, SPbU Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and Methodological Support, who have also attended the meeting, added that interaction between chemists could be very promising there, too. SPbU's school of thought in this field of science is a leading one, and its scientists already enjoy cooperation with their colleagues at Hanoi University of Technology.

Ambassador Ngo Duc Manh expressed gratitude to SPbU Rector for a number of proposals. He noted that every Vietnamese citizen kept in his or her heart the memory of the support rendered to them by the Soviet Union throughout the twentieth century: the Soviet higher education institutions became the alma mater of the present-day Vietnamese leaders and the creation of many economic enterprises of Vietnam was contributed to by the USSR.

Russia is a key strategic partner for our country. The utmost priority of my visit to St Petersburg is to deepen and expand our relationships. Cooperation in the field of education and personnel training is a key component of them.

Ngo Duc Manh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Vietnam to Russia

"Our cooperation is time-honoured and has a high degree of political trust," the Ambassador said. "Every year we send almost one thousand applicants to Russian universities." Ngo Duc Manh appealed to Nikolay Kropachev with a request to enroll on SPbU programmes some young people from Vietnam within the framework of the "Duty — Aid" project totally funded by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education.

He also supported the proposal of the Rector to strengthen the scientific and academic partnership. "In Vietnam, there are two universities that do have a special status in our country, the same as St Petersburg University and Moscow State University have in Russia. These are Vietnam National University, Hanoi and Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City (sister city of St Petersburg). "The Rector of Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City plans to come to Russia this year with a working visit, and he is very interested in signing a cooperation agreement with St Petersburg University," said Ambassador Ngo Duc Manh.

The Ambassador's first visit to St Petersburg as the head of the diplomatic mission is timed to the international scientific and practical conference dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the arrival of Comrade Nguyễn Ái Quốc (Ho Chi Minh) in Petrograd.

The Ambassador also thanked Nikolay Kropachev for inviting the Vietnamese party to participate in the educational programmes councils. He added that Russian scientists could also take part in the discussion of education-related issues in Vietnam. "We highly appreciate the expert opinion of your scientists. I believe that it would be useful to establish an exchange of best practices between our experts," he emphasised. In this regard, Mr. Ngo Duc Manh noted the importance of the work of the scientific project "SPbU Ho Chi Minh Institute" headed by Professor Vladimir Kolotov (SPbU Department of the History of the Far East Countries).