Growing interest in Norwegian university centre in Russia

An increasing number of students and researchers are taking advantage of the courses and facilities on offer at the Norwegian University Center in St. Petersburg.

The multidisciplinary centre is an important meeting place for Norwegian and Russian researchers and facilitates the establishment of joint research projects. The centre also organises a number of conferences, seminars and workshops, with as close to equal participation of Russian and Norwegian participants as possible.

Other countries keen to be involved
Recently interest in the centre from other Scandinavian countries and from Germany has grown,” states Tamara Lönngren, the director of the centre. Since 2009 researchers from Norway and the EU invited to conduct research stays at the centre have been able to obtain a visa free-of-charge.

“This year we expect to receive about 200 students and close to 500 other visitors from Norway and other Scandinavian countries,” Ms Lönngren continues.

Norwegian universities behind the initiative
The centre in St. Petersburg is a joint initiative between the Universities of Bergen, Oslo and Tromsø and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, and is fully funded by these institutions. The centre was officially opened in 1998, with funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Research Council of Norway.

The director of the centre is always a faculty member from one of the Norwegian owner universities. Associate professor Tamara Lönngren from the University of Tromsø is the third person to hold this position.

Administrative responsibility for the centre lies with the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oslo.

Supervision and infrastructure
At the centre Norwegian researchers on research stays in St. Petersburg can make use of office space and necessary infrastructure. The centre also helps Norwegian and Russian researchers to establish contacts and gain access to libraries and research collections in both Norway and Russia.

From the autumn the centre will fund research stays of up to three months for five research fellows per year.

Courses offered to Norwegian students
The centre cooperates with the Russian Academy of Sciences and with many universities in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Students at the four owner universities are given priority to participate in courses at the centre, but other people on study visits to Russia may also be given places.

The Russian language courses are the most sought-after, but there are also courses for people studying other topics relevant to Russia such as economics, literature, political science/comparative politics and general Russian studies.

“Over the past five years we have also organised two-week language courses for university employees,” Ms Lönngren says. As of spring 2012, a master’s-level course in art history will also be available.

For more information about the courses offered at the centre, please see the centre’s website: http://www.st-petersburg.uio.no/

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