Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the European Commission has supported the internationalisation of higher education and the improvement of teaching in its neighbour states, through cooperation projects with the so called Tempus programme. A project coordinated by the University of Freiburg, Germany, has now been awarded a grant of over 1 million Euros.
In particular the crude oil-producing regions of Russia in Western Siberia and the highly industrialised regions of Altai and the South Urals are confronted by enormous ecological problems. Until now higher education in these areas concentrated on the necessary production techniques. Today deficits in teaching in Ecology and Environmental Management are becoming obvious.
The University of Freiburg is coordinating an international consortium which includes Russian universities in the Altai region, in Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tyumen and also includes the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of the Tyumen region. From the EU, universities in Strasbourg, Koblenz-Landau and Birmingham are involved. The EU Commission chose the best 11 per cent from over 600 Tempus applications. Biologist Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski is Coordinator of the Freiburg Consortium, he is supported by Prof. Dr. Edgar Wagner, a retired Prof. situated in his Department of Plant Biotechnology.
Ralf Reski, who is a member of the Innovation Think-Tank of Baden-Württemberg and also teaches at the Ecole supérieur de Biotechnologie Strasbourg (ESBS) and at the SGBM in Freiburg, says about the project: "Here in the region we have excellent expertise in Environmental Management and with international degree courses as well as a very active Slavic studies Department. We hope we can use this experience to establish modern degree courses with our partners in Russia that are adapted to their requirements. At the same time this is an attractive opening for our students to spend time abroad."
Edgar Wagner, who in the past has already successfully coordinated a similar Tempus project, says: "Personally it is a fascinating experience to extend one's view beyond Moscow. We have a long-standing reliable partner with the University of Tyumen and I am very pleased that the EU Commission has decided to recognise our collaboration with this grant."