The main issues of the development of higher education in agriculture in Russia and Europe discussed at VUA meeting

by Mgr. Eva Trabalikova

The representatives of the Visegrad Association of Universities (VUA) held a session for three days (13th-15th September) at Russian State Agrarian University - MTAA in Moscow in Russian Federation. It was the first Annual VUA meeting held in Russia. Experts tackled issues of higher education in agriculture and discussed a number of topical issues of agro-economics.

At the beginning of the VUA meeting, the participants were adressed by the Rector of Russian State Agrarian University - MTAA ,Galina Zolina and prof. Peter Bielik, the president of VUA and Rector of SUA in Nitra. Galina Zolina spoke about the strategic priorities of development, the main focus of scientific research and about international projects implemented by the RSAU- MTAA. Galina Zolina also emphasized the unique status of the RSAU- MTAA, as the only university in Russia whose work is directly linked to the improvement of the quality of human life. The slogan - From the quality of knowledge and agrotechnology to the quality of life - expresses the main mission of the RSAU- MTAA. For the last 152 years, RSAU- MTAA educates farmers whose work is focused on the development of the domestic economy. Prof. P. Bielik thanked Galina Zolina and the staff memberts  of the university for the high level of organization of the event as well as for the long-term cooperation. Prof. P. Bielik emphasized that the main goal of VUA- which brings together nearly 60 agricultural and other universities in Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, USA, and the Commonwealth of Independent States- is the promotion and development of partnerships in education and science. Within the framework of the VUA meeting, a special discussion was held by the Rector of the RSAU- MTAA, G. D. Zolina with SUA Rector, prof. P. Bielik and prof. Wim Heijman from the Wageningen University on Managerial Education Issues. As W. Heijman said, the RSAU- MTAA, has undoubtedly a leading role in the preparation of experts, specifically within the programs of the public-private partnerships in the MBA program. 35 representatives of 17 member universities from Russia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland, Hungary, USA, Ukraine and Netherlands participated in the VUA meeting. They have heard the VUA Annual Activity Report, which was delivered by the Secretary General of VUA, Mgr. Vladislav Valach from SUA in Nitra. They also discussed the future VUA program activities. One of the main group of activities of the association will be the cooperation of Russian and foreign universities in the field of academic mobilites.

The results achieved by the VUA magazine- Bioeconomy and Sustainable Development- were brought to the attention of the participants of the meeting. The magazine helps to develop the publishing activities of researchers from partner universities. The magazine is registered in one of the international databases, the Copernicus Database (2016 - 78.16 ICV - Copernicus Value Index) and in the electronic Open Book of the German literature publishing house- de Gruyter. Dean of FEM SUA in Nitra prof. Elena Horská informed about the specifics and focus of the magazine as well as the requirements for publishing in the magazine.

Every year, VUA's annual Award of Excellence, is awarded to one of the universities for the most active work and greatest contribution. This year, the Luisiana State University in the USA received this award.

The contribution of invited experts that spoke about the importance of new agricultural technologies was met with great popularity. Head of Department of Agroeconomics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, prof. Sergei Kiseljov, focused his speech on the impact of climate change and food embargo on agricultural development in Russia and Europe. He pointed out possibilities to ensure Russia's food security in climate change conditions up to 2050. Based on economic calculations, taking into account solar activity, the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and increase in the intensity of rainfall, S. Kiseljov outlined the prospects of fertility of different plant species, including grain.

Security expert Alexander Golikov spoke about potential risks of GMO production. He emphasized that the issue of increasing safety is directly linked to rapidly evolving technologies. Before we use them, we need to consider their pros and cons so that we can effectively measure the risks and, subsequently, direct and manage them.

Sergei Grosjev, head of agricultural agribusiness projects at Syngenta, focused on issues of mutual partnership between the state and the private sector in agricultural education. He spoke about the experience with training of the experts in agrotechnology and suggested to create a community that would help to create similar training centers.

The participants of the VUA meeting also visited the selected premises of the RSAU- MTAA, and attended  meetings organised at the respective faculties. Representatives of the Mendel University in Brno in Czech Republic visited the Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Engineering and the Department of Forestry and Amelioration. Representatives of the University of Debrecen visited the Faculty of Technology, the Faculty of Agronomy and Biotechnology and the Faculty of Economics and Finance. Representatives of Szent Istvan University Godollo visited Faculty of  Technique in Agrobusiness and Department of World Economics, etc.

At the Faculty of Economics, there was a discussion about the implementation of a joint master program of agrarian trade and marketing with SUA in Nitra.

Prof. Robert Magda of the University of Szent Istvan University Godollo in Hungary, gave a speech on Scarcity Problems in the 21. century to the students of economics and LSUAG Director John Samuel Russin gave a speech on the education system in the USA.

As part of VUA's activities, the Russian and European experts of the TEMPUS PacAgro project discussed the schedule of events for the coming period.

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