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The Rector’s Interview to RIA Novosti

Rector of Surgut State University (SurGU) – Doctor of Pedagogy, Professor Sergey Kosenok told about the innovative development of the Far North to the Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti.

Sergey Mikhailovich, what does "University for the North" mean?

The Strategy for Socio-Economic Development of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - Ugra – the territory equated to the conditions of the Far North, the oil-producing part of the country and the All-Russian Arctic base acting as the Russian intellectual launching-pad for the North development.

In this light, education is considered to be the major component aiming at the innovative development of the whole region.

Currently, the strategic goal of Surgut State University (SurGU) is to transform into the University of a new type concentrating all intellectual potential and modern scientific and educational infrastructure.

At present, the University is 25 years old. For this time about 25 thousand specialists graduated from the University. They work in all professional spheres of the region. A significant indicator is that 77 per cent of the University graduates have been employed in Ugra.

For many people, Surgut is not associated with a place for getting an education and sedentary life. Did you manage to break the ideology of the "workers of the North"? How do you overcome such stereotypes?

 

This stereotype, if it exists, but not among the residents of Surgut. In a distant past, it was a psychology of 'temporary people' coming to the North ‘on a rotational’ way to make money. Today three fourth of population have been living here for more than twenty years and consider themselves as original residents. Currently, people coming to the city have got a desire to stay here for a long time, and even better - forever. So it is not occasionally. Over the past 20-25 years, Surgut itself and people living in it have dramatically changed. Surgut is a city of youth. The median age of the population in 2017 was equal to 33.4 years.

These are some characteristics of the city soul and its dynamic lifestyle. It is in the top 20 of the fast-growing cities of Russia and in the top three of the cities by the number of cars per 1000 inhabitants. Moreover, Surgut takes the 3rd place in the ranking of the cities with the highest salaries in the country following Moscow and St. Petersburg.

 

What are the relations between the University and the Government of Ugra?

The Government of Ugra finances the applied research projects on a competitive basis and participates in funding of the fundamental research projects together with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR). Our scientists are members of the State and Public Commissions, and the Councils of the okrug including Commission on setting up the human resource base, Commission for preventing and resisting the spread of extremism among young people, the Public Chamber, and so on.

The Government of the Autonomous Okrug engages the political scientists, historians, and lawyers of SurGU in implementing the expertise programmes and projects developed by the Authorities of Ugra. Our okrug is the first and so far the only subject of the Russian Federation, which worked out the Concept of Public Administration for Ensuring Social and Political stability, and later on Surgut State University provided a comprehensive expert assessment of this unique document.

The University conducts a public dialogue between the state and local authorities, on the one hand, and the representatives of civil society, on the other hand. This task is so vital in a modern society that it is called the "third mission" of universities (alongside with education and science). For example, the Institute of State and Law of SurGU set up its Legal clinic and the Center for legal assistance to migrants in order to provide free legal assistance to citizens and foreigners.

 

How does the University interact with the oil and natural gas extraction complex?

The University Board of Trustees includes the representatives of such significant business entities as PJSC “Surgutneftegas”, JSC “Tyumenenergo”, LLC “Gazprom Pererabotka”, LLC “Gazprom Transgaz Surgut”. We usually analyse their business demands, develop educational programmes and open the new training directions for the required specialists.

The Department of Automation and Computer Systems of the Polytechnic Institute started training of bachelors in the following directions –Technical Systems Management and Software Engineering – based on CDIO standards (International Project on Reforming Engineering Education). There is a Mechatronics Laboratory equipped with FESTO machinery, which is a key point for entering into the international network project “Synergy”.

The Department of Construction Technologies and Structures began to implement the Master's program – Calculation and Design of Unique Buildings and Structures – aimed at training the professionals with the special competences for solving the practical problems of design and construction of unique buildings and structures with a help of BIM-technologies (Building Information Modelling).

The Institute of Natural and Technical Sciences trains chemists, biologists, ecologists, specialists in the field of fire and technosphere safety. The graduates are successfully employed by the enterprises of the oil and gas complex of Western Siberia. According to the statistics more than 40 per cent of young professionals are employed in PJSC “Surgutneftegas” and about 20 per cent – in LLC “Gazprom Transgaz Surgut”.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages.  Tell us about the most interesting scientific research related to the culture of indigenous peoples of the North.

It is important to preserve not only the endangered languages but also the traditional way of living of the indigenous peoples. It is a complex task not only for linguists and ethnographers but also for teachers, historians, lawyers and managers.

The linguists contribute to the task of preserving the indigenous languages, including their various dialects. It is necessary to mention some projects dealing with the indigenous languages’ research. They are as follows: "Multi-aspect study of Surgut dialect of the Khanty language" (a grant supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Government of Ugra); "Transcription features of the audio recordings of  Surgut Khanty’s folklore" (supported by M.A. Castrén Society and the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland).

As a result of collaborating with the informants-bearers of Surgut main dialects, the scientists collected some audio, photo and video materials demonstrating the current state of culture and life, the languages of the Trom-Agan, Yugan and Pym Khanty belonging to the Surgut dialect-ethnographic group. The University researchers refined and updated the lexical material for the Khanty-Russian dictionary of General Vocabulary including 7500 words.

 

What are the prospects for the University participation in the Arctic research? What has already been done in the scientific area "Safe North-Clean Arctic"?

The University has been researching the dynamics of animal and plant habitats’ development for 20 years paying attention to the expected warming and its possible impact on the biota.  Our scientists use non-invasive techniques to minimise the pressure while researching the rare and vulnerable species of animals and plants. 

We are going to conduct the joint research in a partnership with the Ural Institute of the State Fire Service for creating the software systems of the fire safety in the north of Western Siberia and the Arctic zone. Within the framework of cooperation with Tomsk State University, we are going to make conservation of green spaces and landscapes of the North, as well as the qualified assessment of the natural capital of Ugra.

 

 

Source: MIA "Russia Today". The online edition of RIA Novosti.