Kaliningrad aims to link Russia and the EU

April 30, 2004


Russia's western-most university in the tiny Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad is poised to take advantage of the European Union accession of its former Soviet satellite neighbours.

Kaliningrad State University, which is considering changing its name to Immanuel Kant University in honour of the philosopher who taught at the institution and is buried there, believes it can be a bridge to Europe, helping speed Russian academic modernisation.

"Our geopolitical situation stimulates international cooperation and we are very optimistic about Europe's expansion. For those of us in education it can only be positive," said Vera Zabotkina, pro rector for international affairs at Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad was ceded from Germany to Stalin at the end of the second world war.

With 38 bilateral agreements with partner universities from Poland, Germany, Eire, Baltic and Scandinavian states and even America since the region opened to foreigners in 1992, the university is one of the best connected in Russia.

It is involved in the $500,000 (£281,000) Tempus/Tacis project to introduce curriculum innovation and a European dimension to teaching. The three-year project will see 60 students and a smaller number of staff attend three-month courses hosted by the partner universities in Vienna, Turku and Galway.

Participants in the more local Eurofaculty scheme are keen supporters of international cooperation. This $600,000 project is run by the Council of Baltic Sea States and aims to harmonise law and economics teaching with European practices and standards.

Vera Semenkova, who has just finished a masters programme in public international law at Germany's Goettingen University, said: "The expansion of the EU around Kaliningrad is a chance for our university to be a bridge between European and Russian universities."

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