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RANEPA Russian-French conference opens in Paris

05 November2018
RANEPA Russian-French conference opens in Paris

On October 25, the 3rd annual international conference of the Presidential Academy devoted to Russian-French cooperation in education, began its work at the Russian Spiritual and Cultural Center in Paris.

This year’s event, “Russian-French Partnership: Digital Transformation and Innovative Educational Technologies,”  is organized by RANEPA Institute of Public Administration and Civil Service (IPACS) in collaboration with the International Association of University Professors and Lecturers (UNESCO IAUPL) and supported by the embassies of Russia in France and of France in Russia.

“Our 2016 conference was the first event that took place in the just-opened center – a fact that will go down in the history of the Academy and the Russian Center in Paris,” RANEPA Rector Vladimir Mau said. He thanked the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation and head of the project office of the Priority Project to Export of Russian Education Shivleta Tagirova.

Despite the changes in the modern world, the value of fundamental education is increasing dramatically. Today it is impossible to imagine universities without academic cooperation, joint research, conferences, student exchanges, joint programs with leading scientific and educational centers in Europe and the world. “In promoting the export of national higher education in the digital age, in expanding university contacts, we see the key to further successful development of political, economic and humanitarian cooperation between Russia and France,” Dr. Mau said in his opening remarks.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to France Alexei Meshkov pointed out the increased participation in the conference compared with last year. It is such contacts that promote the dynamic development of Russian-French educational relations, he added. He also mentioned more than 500 agreements between our countries, more than 170 cooperative programs serving more than 5,000 students. In 2015, an agreement on the mutual recognition of education, qualifications and degrees was signed, and in May 2018, a bilateral roadmap on the development of student mobility. The Russian-French Network University plays an important role in the development of cooperation; this project is open to new partner universities. Programs using digital elements are also developing.

Russian Academy of Sciences President Alexander Sergeyev’s message read by his deputy, Maxim Safonov, emphasized the relevance of the matters discussed and of the cooperation between universities in training personnel for the modern economy and in scientific research.
Professor Michel Gay, General Secretary of UNESCO IAUPL, in his message called science the common language of mankind and a value that must be treasured in collaboration. The digital revolution should be seen as a challenge for countries and civilizations; this is what makes knowledge and its augmentation so valuable.

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Director of RANEPA Institute of Public Administration and Civil Service (IPACS) Igor Bartsits emphasized the role of contacts between Russia and France in the educational environment and the scale of their cooperation: the number of double degree programs and collaborative educational modules is increasing, and students and teachers have more opportunities to study and work at universities in the partner country. An important role in these processes is played by new technologies. Yet, the role of the teacher remains crucial even in a high-tech educational process.

RANEPA Rector Vladimir Mau said in his report that today, people go to school to improve their skills, to become more competitive and gain new knowledge. He does not think it relevant to predict promising areas of training but would rather talk about continuous education, with certain mandatory building blocks in it. Thus, digital literacy should be a must know. The Academy will introduce digital environment and develop digital training programs for everyone regardless of their specialization or major.

Shivleta Tagirova said digitalization expands the scope and blurs the boundaries in education, which becomes a highly competitive area. Countries exporting education have the opportunity to attract talented people to the economy. Russia is interested in developing the export potential of its education. Businesses are interested in attracting foreign students; Russia is implementing the Priority Project to Export of Russian Education to increase the proportion of non-commodity exports.

President of the French Association of Universities for the Digital education in Economy and Management (AUNEGE) Thierry Garrot pointed out the importance of spreading knowledge to all. He emphasized the importance of open educational resources, which originated 20 years ago, when the state decided to create virtual digital campuses for distance education. They later grew into thematic digital universities. It is necessary to further promote the development of open educational resources and attract more users. The national priorities should therefore include simplification of the transition from high school to university; development of undergraduate courses and programs; creating tools and technologies for more effective learning; monitoring information technologies to apply the most appropriate ones in the teaching and learning process; and reaching out to the population groups that did not have access to that kind of data before. To attain these goals, it is necessary to expand and strengthen contacts between universities while preserving the uniqueness of each of them.

Erwann Tison, director of studies at the Sapiens Institute, believes that individual should be in the center of the future of digital landscape. Digital technology directly connects consumers and producers, resulting in the so-called uberization of all sectors of the economy. Compared to that, education seems to remain almost unchanged. Still, digital technology helps us overcome and erase the boundaries and distinctions between big cities and remote regions, and gives everyone access to the most complete and valuable sources of information, to major libraries. Motivation changes; digital technology puts the student, the individual at the center of the teaching and learning process. Students are not only interested in receiving information, but in linking it with practice. Digital technology provides an opportunity for life-long learning and significantly cuts the cost of education. Universities are beginning to work more efficiently, abandoning paper workflow and reducing administration costs. Certification of universities through a system of quality and depth of knowledge should also increase trust in education.

According to Jean-Francois Fiorina of Grenoble Ecole de Management, business schools should promote and ensure the quality of education. Digitalization gives them an unlimited audience, but technology is only a means of achieving the goals of education. A competent teacher should stand behind the technology, but they should not only teach or research. Today startups emerge from science laboratories and join the economy. The approach to partnerships is changing, Mr Fiorina noted – they combine cooperation with competition, which should ultimately contribute to improving the quality of education.

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