President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
Before we start our discussion, let me congratulate you on today’s holiday. It’s an odd situation this year: today is September 1, but the new school year only starts tomorrow, on September 2. You could say this makes it doubly a holiday really, since this way we get two days to celebrate the start of the new school year, first today, on Sunday, and then have it begin for real tomorrow.
Coming here with the rector and the governor, who also has a direct connection to the university, we walked along and recalled how it all began. It was good that the decision was made in its time to hold the APEC summit here in Vladivostok, and that we made the best use of this opportunity to develop the city’s infrastructure and sort out a number of its development issues. It was the right thing that we decided then not simply to build a hotel say, even though hotels are needed too of course, top-level ones, but they will come too. But it was right that rather than just building a hotel, we built this university with its campus buildings that were used first by the APEC summit and were then given to the university.
I hope very much that the investment and work that have gone into creating here in the Far East one of Russia’s intellectual centres, and certainly the Far East’s intellectual centre, will continue to develop as we planned. The first steps in the university’s development and the results of the first academic year here show that we – above all the university’s management and the students themselves – are on the right path.
This is a big university with nearly 27,000 students. It is comparable to other big European or Russian universities. Most important of all are not the excellent campus facilities, even the student dormitories, which you call the ‘students’ hotel’, but the intellectual component, the teaching staff, quality selection of who gets to study here, programmes shaped to fit the region’s and the country’s needs, and cooperation with our top scientific institutions, international scientific institutions and with business leaders, with Russia’s biggest companies.
It is particularly important that this university is focused on training the specialists who are so vital for developing the Far East. I think this is an area in which there is still much work to do.
This concerns the Vostochny Space Launch Centre, for example, which is under construction not so far from here. It also concerns developing the shipbuilding industry, which we need to revive and rebuild, and in civilian shipbuilding, more or less build anew. Specialists will be needed for this work too, for developing civilian shipbuilding in the Far East and working on projects such as developing the Zvezda shipyard, above all.
There are many other areas too, many other sectors to be developed. They include agriculture, machine-building and aircraft manufacturing. I am pleased to say that you already have good cooperation ties with research centres and universities around the world, above all in the Asia-Pacific region of course. This is important because the university should be a place producing needed specialists not just for Russia but also for our partners in the Asia-Pacific region. This kind of cooperation will unquestionably help to keep training at a high standard and support the university’s own academic activity and research.
The Far Eastern University needs to be an integral part of the global and Asia-Pacific education communities. Only then will it always be up to the highest standards and competitive in training top-class specialists. We need these professionals, above all for our economy, our industry, our national needs.
Once again, let me congratulate you on the start of the new academic year and wish you success. Let’s talk about the things of interest to you, the issues you’d like to discuss with me and the rector. It’s not every day you get the chance to see the rector, the regional governor, federal government ministers, or former Education Minister Andrei Fursenko, for example, who also did a lot to make this university possible, make it what it is today. Also here today is First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who worked hard on preparing the APEC summit and organising the construction work, and we also have Yury Trutnev, the new Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy [to the Far Eastern Federal District], and the governor of course.
Go ahead, let’s begin. Be active and bold, let’s discuss the issues that really interest you.