On 9th December, a delegation from the Republic of Cuba visited Voronezh State University. A conference bringing together Voronezh Region Universities Rectors Council and representatives of high schools of the Republic of Cuba was held in the auditorium of the main building of Voronezh State University.
"Voronezh region and the Republic of Cuba have always had very strong ties. In Soviet times many of our teachers worked for Cuban universities and companies. Our university successfully carries out Latin American research. It is very pleasing to see the restoration of relations between Russia and Cuba. And our meeting today is further evidence of that. Many Voronezh universities have cooperation agreements with Cuban universities. Voronezh and Voronezh universities are always happy to have guests from Cuba," – said VSU rector professor Dmitri Endovitsky in his welcome speech.
Moreover, he reminded the audience that this year one of VSU Academic Board sessions was marked with awarding ex-student of the VSU Department of Nuclear Physics, Vice President of Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Cuba professor Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart with the gown and diploma of honourable doctorate of Voronezh State University.
"Cuba is a friend of Russia. This is highly important that relations between Cuba and Russia are being restored and that academic cooperation is being restored as well. It will influence economic and social development," said Deputy Minister of Higher Education of Cuba Ramon Gonzalez Gonzalez.
Then the VSU Rector introduced representatives of Voronezh Universities to the delegates of the Republic of Cuba. He also mentioned that Voronezh is a unique academic centre – its population is one million people, 135 thousand of which are students.
Within the meeting VSU Vice-Rector for Innovations and Technology Commercialization Tatiana Davydenko gave a talk on Scientific and Innovation Potential of Voronezh Universities.
"The Russian and world communities have shown a lot of interest in Voronezh region recently. This is explained by the economic and social projects that are being implemented in our region. Universities have the leading role in these projects. The system of higher education is mainly oriented towards business requirements. Today the academic community of Voronezh region consists of 40 universities and branches, over 5 000 professors, and over 135 000 students. The total R&D financing amounts to over 600 million roubles. Voronezh universities are participants in production clusters. 9 Voronezh universities house modern innovative infrastructure – technoparks, business incubators and centres for collective use. Today Cooperation between Higher Education Institutes and the business community is developing in two major directions: first – specialists training with regard to employer customised qualification requirements and competences; second – development of innovation oriented applied research. As a result we can speak about the high potential of Voronezh universities," – said Tatiana Mikhailovna.
Tatiana Davydenko concluded her speech by outlining possible directions for cooperation between Cuban and Voronezh universities. It includes development of joint educational programmes, joint participation in competitions and grants, joint research, development of further training programmes, creation of joint small innovative businesses and openning of joint research centres and laboratories.
The Head of the Department of International Relations and World Politics at the Faculty of International Relations professor Aleksandr Slinko gave a talk on Ibero-American Investigations at Voronezh State University.
Rector of Voronezh State Technical University Vladimir Petrenko, Vice-Rector for Research and Innovations of Voronezh State University of Engineering Technologies Pavel Sukhanov, Vice-Rector of N.N. Burdenko Voronezh State Medical Academy Aleksei Morozov, Rector of Voronezh State Forest Engineering Academy Vladimir Bugakov, Rector of Voronezh State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering Sergei Kolodyazhnyi, Rector of Voronezh State Institute of Physical Culture Gennadii Bugayev and Vice-Rector of Voronezh State Pedagogical University Natalia Sokolova presented their universities and offered cooperation.
Talks were also given by the Head of the Department of International Relations of the University of Information Technologies of the Republic of Cuba Beatriz Aragon Fernandez, Vice -Rector of the University of Havana Hilda Rosa Leon Castellanos, and Rector of the University of Pedagogical Studies Blas Roca (Granma) Oscar Vivero Reis.
"Voronezh is the only provincial city that has three Nobel Prize winners: writer Ivan Bunin, academy member Nikolai Basov and VSU graduate, academy member Pavel Cherenkov. I hope that our strengthened relations and consolidated efforts will give way to another Nobel Prize winner"– said VSU rector Dmitri Endovitsky concluding the conference.
After the meeting the delegates of the Republic of Cuba visited the Voronezh State University Exhibition of Innovation Projects, VSU Centre for Collective Use of Scientific Equipment, and X-ray Diffraction Study Laboratory.
Additionally, the delegation of the Republic of Cuba met Deans of some VSU faculties – the Faculty of Applied Mechanics and Mathematics, Computer Sciences Faculty, the Faculty of Pharmaceutics, the Faculty of Biology and Soil Sciences, the Faculty of Chemistry and the Faculty of Physics. They told the guests about their work at the Faculty, their departments, graduates, educational programmes and scientific schools.
Within the session cooperation agreements between VSU and the University of Havana, Oscar Lucero Moya University (Cuba), University of Information Technologies (Cuba) were signed. The partnership will involve the following important academic activities – student and professor exchange, research and development collaboration, data exchange, and researchers further training.
"It was very important to us to meet all the representatives of faculties. We are planning to start active cooperation with them. The most significant part of our visit is the signing of the agreements which will provide us with opportunities for further strengthening our relations with VSU. I am sure Cuban universities will be happy to cooperate with Voronezh universities. Today we have got a notion of how our cooperation can develop," – said Deputy Minister of Higher Education of Cuba Ramon Gonzalez Gonzalez.
"Unfortunately such a short period of time is not enough to see all the potential of Voronezh State University. We have not had a chance to talk about the Faculty of Geology. We have not discussed Humanities perspectives either. VSU supports three Centres of Russian language in China. I suggest opening a similar centre in Cuba which we could provide with publications and teaching material and teachers. We have an international Education Institute where a unique methodology of Russian language learning Russian as a Foreign Language has been developed. At the request of French University INALKO we are currently developing a platform for distance learning of Russian. If the Cuban side gets interested in such a platform we will be happy to provide it. We are ready to join systematic integration of our educational projects and programmes. We should remember that Voronezh has a long and fine history of cooperation with Cuba and we should use it as a competitive advantage," emphasised VSU Rector professor Dmitri Endovitsky in his concluding speech.
At the end of the meeting Deputy Minister of Higher Education of Cuba Ramon Gonzalez Gonzalez shared his impression of their visit to Voronezh State University.
"What impression do you have of your visit to VSU?"
"Without doubt, it is very strong. Voronezh University has connection with the history of my country. We have a long standing friendship. A son of the Great Comandante, Fidel Castro, studied here and now he has received an honourable doctorate of VSU. We have always had warm relations and I believe that together we can do a lot".
"Do you find the results of the visit satisfactory?"
We did not have much time but we spent it most productively and the visit became a source of new hopes and expectations. Here we had a chance to meet our old friends who had visited Cuba. We have a proverb which says "To remember is to live again". And here and now we have real life again".