A delegation from TOBB University of Economics and Technology of Turkey headed by the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management Ihsan Sezal has visited St Petersburg University. The agenda of the meeting raised issues of training Turkish citizens at St Petersburg University as part of their internship in Russia, as well as the prospects for academic and research exchange.

Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, thanked the guests for the visit. He said that Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University and university students had recently met with the Consul General of Turkey Yunus Belet. He emphasised the positive dynamics of relations with Turkish partners.

TOBB University of Economics and Technology is a private non-profit university located in Ankara. About 7000 students study there. The university was founded in 2003, and this year entered the top of the Young University Rankings — the ranking of the best young universities founded in the 21st century.

The guests gave a presentation about the university, noting that it has a unique system of international contacts for Turkey. Each student learns English and another foreign language. During their studies, they must undertake three internships in the country of the language they study. In total, the university offers three internship destinations: Russia, Arabic countries and China.

Mr Ihsan Sezal said that in Russia today Turkish students have an opportunity to choose an internship in only one university, which is in Moscow. The Turkish university authorities intend to expand the circle of partner universities. St Petersburg University, the oldest university in Russia, is located in a city that attracts many Turkish citizens for tourism. It is also attractive as a future place of residence and work, which is a priority.

Hakki Arda Tokat, a staff member of TOBB University of Economics and Technology, noted that there are two main criteria for the Turkish side. Firstly, there are the mechanisms for organizing long-term intensive language internships lasting from several months to a year. Secondly, there is the issue of student accommodation. The Turkish side is ready to send 20 to 25 students a year.

Oksana Chukhaeva is the Director of the Additional Educational Programme Centre for Russian as a Foreign Language. She told the guests about the short two-week summer school for Russian language and the long-term modular programme «Russian as a Foreign Language». The first programme is designed for acquaintance with Russian language, city and University. The second one is intended for those who already know Russian at a basic level, and want to communicate freely with native speakers. They may also plan to enter Russian universities or receive permission for temporary residence in the Russian Federation. The modular training system allows groups to be formed according to the initial level of language knowledge through selection testing. Oksana Chukhaeva noted that it is easy to organise training in multinational groups. There are about 1,500 students from different countries studying on the St Petersburg University’s Additional Educational Programme «Russian as a Foreign Language».

Students of colleges and lyceums in Turkey have the opportunity to pass the TORFL exam and receive a certificate from St Petersburg University. Last year, with the support of St Petersburg University, testing for Russian as a foreign language was held at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Ankara for the first time.

Another area of cooperation could be international mobility programmes. Irina Grigoryeva, Deputy Head of the Academic Programmes Division spoke briefly about the opportunities. Students and teaching staff exchange is possible not only in the framework of Turkic oriental programmes, but also in other areas. These include economics, management, sociology, political science, and many others.

Irina Grigoryeva also noted that St Petersburg University and the partner university can develop a joint educational programme. However, such projects require a lot of time and resources. The guests said that this prospect is very interesting to the TOBB University of Economics and Technology, especially for creating a bilateral master’s degree programme. They are ready to discuss this issue with the university authorities.

Apollinaria Avrutina, Associate Professor of St Petersburg University, told guests about the St Petersburg University School of Turkology. It is considered to be the oldest centre of Turkology and Ottoman studies in Europe. Student-Turkologists study not only Turkish, but also other modern languages. They can choose: Arabic, Persian, Azeri; the medieval languages of Old-Ottoman, Old Azerbaijani, and Chagatai; and Old Turkic languages. The curriculum also includes units for studying culture and history, and the current political, economic and social situation in Turkey.

The representatives of TOBB University of Economics and Technology were impressed by the information received during the meeting and promised to convey this information to the university authorities. They expressed a desire to personally visit the dormitory of St Petersburg University to learn more about the conditions of accommodation of students.

It was decided to draw up a specific list of the most promising ways of cooperation, and to discuss all administrative and substantive issues for concluding a partnership agreement.