U.S. Community College Administrators Pursue Collaboration with their Russian Counterparts

The Fulbright Program welcomed senior administrators from five U.S. community colleges to Russia during the first half of April 2011. The timing for this delegation could not have been better, as it comes at a time when Russia is pursuing reforms in both higher and professional education that provide opportunities for collaboration. Discussions between American and Russian colleagues in Moscow, the Moscow region, Yekaterinburg, and cities throughout the Ural region focused upon workforce training, relations between educational institutions and future employers, and the benefits of applied bachelor degrees and other professional training programs.

Photo: Community College fellows in Yekaterinburg (Jeffrey Thomas, Donald Staub, Joseph Sopcich, Margaret McCarthy, Fulbright Officer Oksana Anistratenko, and Debra Tervala).

Potential for collaboration spans a variety of fields including in the culinary arts and hospitality sectors, agriculture, nursing, engineering and technician training, and English as a second language. Distance learning is seen as a first step in pursuing new collaborations, with the possibility of faculty and administrator exchanges, followed by student exchange and a variety of other collaborations.

Photo: Students from Moscow Technical College #14 introducing the college’s World War II museum.

The delegation met with representatives of leading institutions of higher education and professional education in Russia. They also took part, together with representatives of the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg, in a roundtable discussion at Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg. Each U.S. delegates then pursued opportunities for collaboration in one of five Ural cities (Tyumen, Ufa, Chelyabinsk, Perm, and Kurgan), where they met with local university and college representatives, municipal and regional authorities, and members of private industry, community organizations and the press.

Photo: Komsomolskaya Pravda press conference in Chelyabinsk with Jeffrey Thomas, Fulbright Director Anthony Koliha, and Svetlana Sannikova.

This is the second year of the Fulbright Community College Administrator Seminar (CCAS) in Russia. Last year’s program has already resulted in a number of cooperative agreements and follow-up visits by Russian hosts to the United States. In March 2011, the Russia Fulbright director and two of last year’s CCAS hosts from Moscow and Ivanovo sat down with the U.S. Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, to discuss the community college program with Dr. Jill Biden, who was joining the U.S. Vice President during his visit to Moscow (see previous story).

Photo: Debra Tervala represents her college at a Fulbright conference of Russian International Education Administrators

The U.S. fellows from both years learned about the Russian higher education system, including the recently introduced changes resulting in the creation of 2 special status universities, 7 federal universities, and 29 national research universities throughout Russia. They also learned about on-going changes in professional education and attempts to solve labor issues by working together to create collaboration between schools, colleges and professional training centers, universities, and employers. As representatives combining both professional and higher education in the United States, the community college fellows have a wealth of information to share with their Russian counterparts. And due to the significant reforms taking place in Russia and the scale at which these reforms are being implemented, the Russian hosts also have much to share with their American colleagues.

The Fulbright Program in Russia. Institute of International Education.
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