German-Russian university, DAAD centre, for Tatarstan

The German Academic Exchange Service - DAAD - is to open an information centre in the Tatarstan capital Kazan, in Russia. The centre will also support a new German-Russian university in the region.

The new office is to provide information on DAAD funding programmes for Russian students, graduates and scientists, organise interdisciplinary congresses, conferences and seminars, and offer Russian higher education and research institutions advice on academic issues.

The information centre will also assist in setting up a German-Russian university in Kazan, called the German-Russian Institute of Advanced Technologies or GRIAT, which is to be opened in September 2014.

The GRIAT project has evolved in close collaboration between TU Ilmenau - Ilmenau University of Technology in Germany's eastern state of Thuringia - and Kazan National Research Technical University.

Albert Gilmutdinov, the Kazan university's vice-chancellor, is especially keen to adopt Ilmenau's concept of close cooperation with industry, an aspect that Tatarstan's government also attaches considerable importance to.

Elements of other east German higher education institutions are to be integrated into the new university as well, and there are plans to organise the mutual exchange of research groups.

Gilmutdinov is adamant that GRIAT switch from English, originally conceived as the institution's working language, to German, maintaining that: "German technologies are of a very special character.

"Students have to make the effort to learn German. Otherwise, they will not be capable of truly understanding the peculiarities of German technology." English should only figure as a transitory solution, he argues.

New DAAD centre

The new DAAD centre itself, the third of its kind in the country alongside those already operating in St Petersburg and Novgorod, is to be attached to Kazan Federal University, Russia's third oldest higher education institution.

It will be headed by Thilo Zinecker, who has already worked in the field of cultural and language studies in Kazan for six years.

"Intensive and productive academic exchange between Germany and Russia has already been in progress for years," said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel. "The information centre in Kazan will strengthen these contacts."

In the 2012-13 winter semester, almost 11,000 Russian students were enrolled at German universities. More than 150 scientists and graduates have been supported in programmes jointly organised and funded by DAAD and the Tatarstan Ministry of Education since 2009.

* Michael Gardner Email: