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BRICS pledge deeper education collaboration

Ministries of Education in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have pledged greater educational cooperation to take advantage of rapidly expanding education developments in BRICS nations.

BRICSL-R: Ogorodova Lyudmila, Deputy Minister of Science and Education of the Russian Federation; Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Human Resource Development, India; Education Minister of China Chen Baosheng; Diane Parker, Department of Higher Education and Training, South Africa. Education ministers and representatives signed an accord to strengthen research, mobility and joint degrees on the BRICS Network University platform. Photo: Indian Ministry of Human Resources

BRICS NU consists of 55 universities in the five countries

At the fifth meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education earlier this month in Beijing, delegates discussed educational reforms, promoting equity and quality in education, boosting exchange of students as well as promoting language and cultural knowledge of member countries.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a declaration between senior ministry representatives, proclaiming deeper collaboration and support for the two-year old BRICS Network University.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a declaration of deeper collaboration on BRICS Network University

BRICS NU is the only functioning university association between the countries and their main platform for research, scientific and innovative cooperation.

The platform was established in 2015 in Russia and is dedicated to joint short-term, master’s and PhD programs in the fields of computer science and information science, energy, BRICS studies, economics, ecology and climate change and water resources and pollution treatment.

“It is to facilitate and encourage the integration of the geopolitical environment through education, common education and research tasks and goals, developing and fostering academic and student mobility, and creating education programs in an innovative format,” commented vice rector for international academic mobility of RUDN University, Larisa Efremova.

Currently, BRICS NU consists of 55 universities, among which there are nine Russian universities belonging to the 5-100 program. Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Minas Gerais are among the Brazilian participants. Meanwhile in India, IIT Bombay and Kanpur are participants and in China, Hunan University and Sichuan University are members.

In South Africa, participants include the Universities of Cape Town, Pretoria and Witwatersrand.

Despite its fledgling success, the initiative still faces challenges related to financial support and the mutual recognition of some degrees and qualifications, according to Maxim Khomyakov, head of the Russian National Coordinating Committee at the BRICS Network University.

“For example, in South Africa and Brazil recognition is done mostly by the autonomous universities on a program by program basis,” he said.

“Russia does have agreement with India, but from the Soviet era. It is not clear how to recognise master’s, bachelor’s or PhD programs, which didn’t exist in the Soviet Union. Brazil and South Africa have issues with recognition of academic credits as well.”

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