In February, Voronezh State University and the University of Texas at Brownsville signed an agreement on the implementation of double-degree Master's programmes in Physics as part of the MSc programme in Optics and Nanophotonics. This was made possible by the collaboration agreement which the two universities signed in the summer of 2014 and which had first been discussed during the video conference between VSU and the University of Texas at Brownsville.
The two parties' productive cooperation started with the visit of the delegation from the University of Texas at Brownsville, including Dean of the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology Mikhail M. Bouniaev, Ph.D. and Executive Director of Global Engagement Alla Paroiatnikova. During the visit, the specific details of the programme of collaboration under the signed agreement were discussed. The work on creating a new double degree programme came as a result of the two universities' cooperation during the visit of Professor Malik Rahmanov, Head of the Optics and Nanophotonics Laboratory at the University of Texas at Brownsville, to VSU.
– The Master's degree programme is based at the Department of Optics and Spectroscopy of the VSU Faculty of Physics and the Optics and Nanophotonics Laboratory of the University of Texas at Brownsville, says VSU's programme manager, Head of the Department Oleg Ovchinnikov. – Work in the spheres of optics and nanophotonics is one of the key research areas at Professor Rakhmanov's department and laboratory. That is why we were quick to find common ground in both science and the way education is organized.
It must be noted that students will be selected for participation in this programme during the first semester of their Master's degree course. The eligibility requirements are really tight: a good academic performance, a high level of the English language (assessed at a competition), as well as a keen interest in fundamental scientific research.
What makes this programme unique is the fact that the universities were able to combine the Master's degree curricula for the students participating in the exchange programme. At the University of Texas at Brownsville, they will study the same subjects as their fellow students staying at VSU. The first VSU students will be able to spend a year in the USA starting on 1st January 2016.
The materials of the research that the MSc students will conduct during their studies abroad will need to be presented as a Master's thesis at the Voronezh State University Faculty of Physics. At the same time, they will receive the diploma of the American university, based on the course completed and the exams passed.
– Such cooperation between the universities opens up huge prospects for the students: the invaluable experience of operating unique equipment, hands-on experience with advanced optic and photonic technologies, as well as a 6-8 months' experience of working for major companies, which the University of Texas at Brownsville offers to Master's programme graduates. All of this is extremely important for the graduates majoring in optics to ensure further successful career building in Russia's largest companies which develop photonic technologies, now considered to be the most advanced and cutting-edge, all the more so given that 2015 has been declared International Year of LIGHT, stresses Oleg Ovchinnikov.
This agreement is especially relevant due to the fact that, at the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation launched an initiative to develop networking collaboration between the leading universities of Russia and the USA. This was suggested by Head of the Ministry Dmitriy Livanov in the course of his working visit to the USA, at the meeting with Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, Gene D. Block.