All six sub-projects address the following research questions of the project with their own specific focuses and approaches:

  1. What is the potential of higher education cooperation in general and collaborative degree programmes in particular in the construction of well-functioning relations/good neighbourliness between neighbouring countries?
  2. What is the role played by/impact of global developments and models on Finnish-Russian higher education cooperation?
  3. How our perceptions of neighbours have changed in the 2000s, and what kind of implications it has had on Finnish/EU-Russian relations?
  4. How higher education cooperation in general and collaborative degree programmes in particular should be implemented in practice in order to positively contribute to good neighbourliness (discussion of sensitive issues, introduction of new learning environments)?

Sub-project 1.Iuliia Gataulina: Politics and Governance of Russian Universities: Assembling Quality, Inclusion and Internationalisation of Higher Education

  • In her sub-project, Iuliia explores politics and governance of higher education: the doctoral research focuses on neoliberal changes and strategies in the context of post-soviet Russian universities joining the pan-European Bologna process. Specifically, Iuliia explores how such important for cooperation notions as “quality of education”, “inclusion”, and “internationalisation” are assembled within Russian higher education. The research traces parts of those assemblages from the European cooperation of the Bologna process; Soviet legacy in higher education; current governmental policies in Russia as well as subjectivities and experiences of those personally involved in higher education spaces nowadays. Iuliia tries to uncover if there is any resistance inside universities against dominant trends of neoliberalization – and where it lies within the assemblage. Thus, the research draws on – and adds to – the discussions on postsocialist neoliberalism(s).

    Moreover, Gataulina’s research tries to fight the “territorialisation” of the research design; thus, the scope of the research sometimes goes beyond “Russian” territorial or semantic boundaries keeping in mind that the neoliberalisation of higher education and the Bologna process create various assemblages across borders. The research approach draws on non-local ethnography, which helps to get a deeper understanding of the “field”, which is not constrained by territorial boundaries (such as the Bologna process or neoliberalization in the Russian universities).

    Sub-project 2Anni Kangas

      • Anni’s contribution will be a historical inquiry into the changing assemblages of higher education cooperation between Finland and its eastern neighbour. Anni is interested to find out how the transformation from the “Cold War university” towards the “entrepreneurial university” plays out in Finnish-Russian university collaboration. This transformation is examined through an assemblage of discourses, material learning environments and forms of subjectification. Empirical research material for this subproject is collected from the archives of Finnish and Russian education ministries and authorities and a set of selected universities, and is complemented by interviews. The research builds on Anni’s previous research into Finnish-Russian relations (e.g. Kangas 2011) and geopolitics of higher education (Moisio & Kangas 2016).

    Sub-project 3. Dmitry Lanko: Brain Drain or Brain Gain: The Role of International Double-Degree Programmes

      • Dmitry’s research focuses on motivation of potential students to join international double degree programmes. This subproject will approach the main research question in two ways. First, individual face-to-face interviews with educators in Finland and Russia will uncover how they perceive the ’added value’ that international double degree programmes provide students with. Second, focus group interviews with alumni members will uncover how they perceive it. A comparison of educators’ and students’ perceptions, if they appear to differ significantly, will provide with guidelines for improvement of already working international double degree programmes and for formation of new such programmes.

Sub-project 4.  Sirke Mäkinen: Double degree programmes and Perceptions of the Neighbours

    • Sirke’s research focuses both on the ‘ideational’ and practical level of double degree programmes. In this subproject Sirke seeks to answer to questions such as how perceptions on Russian HE education and Russia have changed during cooperation, how and why universities have started and continue cooperation, and how the cooperation has changed in the post-Crimea world.  Finally, Sirke will discuss how international relations are reflected in university cooperation, or whether university cooperation may contribute to relations between neighbouring states.

Sub-project 5. Svetlana Shenderova: Managerial Approaches in Double Degree Programmes

    • In her sub-project Svetlana concentrates on institutional environments inside and outside the universities implementing double degree programmes in Finland and Russia as members of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). In particular, Svetlana explores formal and informal institutional arrangements and transaction costs of Finnish-Russian double degrees in the context of supra- and national internationalisation policies. Svetlana’s research discusses the institutional nature of a double degree programme as an internationalisation activity through the prism of transaction costs theory. In addition, Shenderova investigates how the perceptions that university stakeholders have on internationalisation policies  influence  diversity and sustainability of double degree management and university governance. Finally, addressing the internationalisation of higher education between the universities at the EU, in particular, Finland, and Russia, Svetlana explores the changes in internationalisation policies and practices of curricula design, double degrees, student and staff mobility, and university autonomy under such challenges as the EU-Russia tensions and COVID-19 pandemic.

Sub-project 6.  Gleb Yarovoy: Trust Building, Cross-border Cooperation and Higher Education Institutions

    • One of the project objectives is to analyze relations between neighbouring countries through a focus on educational practices and sub-state actors such as universities, academia and university graduates. The main research question is the following: What is the potential of higher education cooperation <…> in the construction of well-functioning relations/good neighbourliness between neighbouring countries.
      In the framework of the project, Gleb will contribute to research on the paradiplomatic “actorness” of higher education organizations, their involvement in cross-border cooperation between Finland/EU and Russia. How cross-border cooperation between universities contribute to upholding the sufficient level of mutual trust between regional and local communities? — would be the main research question of Gleb’s part of the research.
      The main hypothesis states that stable (system of) contacts between the universities (their administrations, staff, students and alumni) leads to the development of cross-border cooperation and promotes trustful relations between the other paradiplomatic actors (e.g. public authorities, NGOs and civil society) by influencing the formation of “good neighbourliness”-oriented regional and local elites.