20th Annual Aleksanteri Conference on Russian and Eastern European Studies ‘Eurasia and Global Migration’, panel ‘Towards Good Neighbourliness? Russian Universities, Internationalisation and International Cooperation’.

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganization of a workshop, panel, session or tutorial


Panel2F "Towards Good Neighbourliness? Russian Universities, Internationalisation and International Cooperation"
Aim and background
The aim of the panel is to examine internationalization of higher education (HE) as viewed from within universities, by internal stakeholders implementing internationalization ‘on the ground’. We understand internationalization broadly as internationalisation of education, research and outreach (Woldegiyorgis et al 2018).

We address questions such as what the roles of different internal and external stakeholders in internationalization of HE are, what drives and motivates them to encourage internationalization or to participate in it. Does internationalization have a purely instrumental role for national governments for the purposes of power accumulation and economic development (Sidhu & Dall-alba 2012, Moscovitz and Zahavi 2019), purely academic role for educators or serving special interests of administrators and policy makers? How is internationalization perceived and implemented in universities? What changes does internationalization undergo in the current context of neo-liberalization of HE?

Russia offers an interesting case for studying practices and implications of internationalization of HE (Shenderova 2020). In Russia, HE has undergone controversial reforms since the collapse of the Soviet Union, simultaneously aiming at commercialisation and stratification at the institutional level (Smolentseva 2017) and at greater state control together with a massive amount of reporting obligations to demonstrate accountability.

Papers will look at the questions above in the national context of Russian HE and Russia’s cooperation with EU partners, mainly Finland (Deriglazova and Mäkinen 2021). The papers zoom into cases such as the Bologna process, Finnish-Russian HE cooperation, and cross border cooperation between regions of Northwest Russia and neighboring EU member states. They address both the national contexts and the international political environment, including the ongoing crisis in EU-Russia relations.

The papers use a variety of research materials and methods. In our case studies, we apply non-local ethnography and qualitative content analysis. Primary data includes author-conducted semi-structured interviews and online survey of internal stakeholders in several universities in Finland and Russia, official EU, state and institutional-level documents related to internationalisation including cross border cooperation, as well as other public sources such as websites of universities and media materials.

Findings and conclusion
The panel finds that there are various stakeholders that influence the outcome of internationalisation of HE in Russia, and that state policies alone cannot determine the outcomes. The motivations for internationalization vary as to these different stakeholders. Educators do not necessarily support the political rationale for internationalisation propagated by the state. Most of the cross-border cooperation projects that Russian universities participate in are vaguely related to academic cooperation but are rather response to pressure from above urging universities to participate in international projects of any kind. The dissonance in motivations and goals is also true of the partners in international collaborations; even if there is a shared goal of collaboration, the drivers for this collaboration may vary, and thus expectations for collaboration are not always met. The panel concludes that the institutional, national and international political environment together create a context which may have alarming consequences to outcomes of HE internationalization in Russia and does not necessarily strengthen good neighbourliness.
Period27 Oct 2021
Event typeConference
LocationHelsinki , FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational