St Petersburg University has been visited by a delegation led by Mr Zhong Denghua, Vice Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The purpose of the visit was to discuss the issues of promoting training and research exchange between the University and Chinese universities.

Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, welcomed the distinguished guest. He noted that the cooperation between St Petersburg University and the People's Republic of China is thriving. It is large-scale and far-reaching. Every year, more than 160 Chinese scholars come to the University to participate in international conferences and seminars. Over the past five years, University researchers together with their colleagues in China have co-published about 700 academic papers in top-ranked world academic journals. Eight research centres have been opened with the support of partner universities in the PRC. They cover a wide variety of areas – from natural sciences to the humanities. A Chinese component is included in every tenth academic programme of St Petersburg University. At present, there are about 2,000 students from China who study at the University. This is the largest group of foreign students. At the same time, Russian students are becoming more interested in the Chinese language – nowadays, it is the second most popular language after English among University students.  All in all, it is studied by about 1,000 students. All these achievements have become possible thanks largely to the direct cooperation agreement between St Petersburg University and the Ministry of Education of China, which was signed in 2015.

St Petersburg University is rapidly developing cooperation with the higher educational institutions of China, in particular with Tsinghua University. This academic year, both universities have organised thematic weeks devoted to each other. The rectors agreed to open a joint master’s academic programme, as well as to organise a joint Russian–Chinese student start-up competition. Together with another university partner – the Harbin Institute of Technology – St Petersburg University is working towards the creation of a joint university.

At the instructions of Nikolay Kropachev, the Rector of the University, and Chen Baosheng, the Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China, the laws on education of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China were translated into Russian and Chinese. Their publication will help other universities to understand the legislation while developing joint projects and programmes. Currently, comments are being prepared. As it was suggested by St Petersburg University, the Ministry of Education of China agreed to double the quota for university students who want to do internships in Chinese universities at the expense of scholarships from the Chinese Ministry.

Sergey Andryushin noted that the Rector of St Petersburg University also supports other initiatives to expand cooperation with the Ministry of Education of the PRC. This includes an invitation to Chinese lecturers to come to the University and support the implementation of academic programmes with a Chinese component. The Vice Minister was also interested in the proposal on the participation of Chinese experts in the councils of academic programmes. Another important area is the construction of a new campus of St Petersburg University. It is planned to open a high-tech medical clinic on its territory with the Chinese partners of St Petersburg University being involved in its establishment.

Mr Zhong Denghua, Vice Minister of Education of the PRC, thanked St Petersburg University for its excellent work. He said that at present Chinese–Russian relations are at their height, including in the field of higher education. There were moments in history, in the 1920s and in the 1950s, when Chinese students showed considerable interest in studying in Russia. These graduates of Russian universities came back to their native land to make a great contribution to the development of the PRC. Currently, a new wave of interest in higher education in the Russian Federation has arisen: many Chinese applicants come to receive valuable knowledge and become true experts in their fields. In this regard, Mr Zhong Denghua expressed a wish to increase the number of cooperation programmes and strengthen academic exchanges between St Petersburg University and Chinese universities. At the end of the meeting, Mr Zhong Denghua suggested that a football and table tennis tournament should be held between the teams of St Petersburg University and the leading universities of China.