The Russian Academy of Sciences’ participation in education work, in particular, in establishing a united research university, construction of housing for young scientists, and support for the Euler International Mathematical Institute in St Petersburg were the main subjects of discussion.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Osipov, I know that you wanted to talk first about the Euler International Mathematical Institute.
President of The Russian Academy of Sciences YURY OSIPOV: That’s right.
Vladimir Putin: Let’s start with that.
Yury Osipov: As you know, this institute was created back in the Soviet era by the Politburo. It did some very good work, considering that mathematics, both in the Soviet times and in modern Russia, have held leading positions in the world. It was based in Leningrad, in St Petersburg. The institute operated as follows: Russian and foreign researchers would come for six or twelve months and give lectures and seminars, attracting undergraduate and postgraduate students, and PhD candidates. In general, this system worked well until the early 1990s, when it fell apart because of a lack of funds. I believe we must revive this institution; this is very important. First, some of our outstanding mathematicians who have moved abroad have written to me saying that they are willing to come and work in Russia. Some of them may even return for good. And they don’t need much: all that is necessary is to build a small hotel.
Vladimir Putin: Comfortable accommodation.
Yury Osipov: Yes, so that the people who come here have somewhere reasonable to stay. It should be a flat, or rather an apartment hotel with 15 to 20 flats, located near the institute. If you support this initiative, I will supply all the details in writing to you or your assistants.
Vladimir Putin: Please do.
Yury Osipov: Thank you, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Agreed.
YURY OSIPOV There’s another issue I wanted to bring up. You have set the goal for several of our universities to move up to the top one hundred in the academic ranking of world universities in the near future. When this ranking is compiled, most of the points are awarded to universities for their achievements in science; they get more than 50% of points for this area. As you know, for example, Novosibirsk State University was established by the Academy of Sciences which has an excellent branch [Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences] there and most of the teaching is conducted through the branch. Then there is Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Dolgoprudny, also created by the Academy, and it has a lot of our departments. Of course, St Petersburg Academic University headed Zhores Alferov is also an excellent university.
Vladimir Putin: It’s great the way he has organised it.
Yury Osipov: Mr President, we have conducted an assessment recently and he took first place with 100 points in science. We still need to think this through but I think with your support we could establish an integrated university based there. Perhaps we could even establish a department at the Academy that would oversee education. Believe me, such a university would quickly find itself among the world leaders because it would be made up of top research universities.
Vladimir Putin: Let’s try this, especially since the Academy has the opportunity. You could combine research and education.
Yury Osipov: Absolutely. Everything is ready, all that remains is just to formalise it.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Alferov has the different stages of education – school and university – packed into a single system.
Yury Osipov: Mr President, I also have some good news. Last year the Government allocated us some money for housing.
Vladimir Putin: Housing for young scientists.
Yury Osipov: Yes, certificates and money for the purchase of housing. However, as I reported to you earlier, we couldn’t do it in Moscow because it is too expensive. We implemented an old investment project and received from the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo) a whole building in Odintsovo with 224 flats. Therefore, the Academy of Sciences has provided 997 flats to young researchers this year. This is a very good result. Now the Housing Construction Development Facilitation Fund has become actively involved. As you said yourself, new housing will be built in Siberia. In short, there has been some progress and we are very happy about that.
Vladimir Putin: The main thing is not to rest on your laurels.
Yury Osipov: I hope we won’t. Most importantly, this inspires real enthusiasm in young people.
Vladimir Putin: That’s good.