“ERASMUS +”: from Europe to USURT

Ten post dostępny jest także w języku: Русский (Russian)

Two years ago, the international project “ERASMUS+” was launched at the Ural State University of Railway Transport (USURT). Thanks to this project, the scientific and academic cooperation of USURT (the only transport University in the Urals) with the international community has expanded and gained a long-term perspective. 

            ERASMUS+ is a program of the European Union aimed at supporting universities’ educational activities and young people’s professional training. Its main areas are students and teachers’ mobility, partnership in universities’ potential unlocking, promotion of new ideas and development of new forms of cooperation.

            The main peculiarity of this project is the internationalization of higher education. The Ural State University of Railway Transport has been practicing international cooperation for many years, interacting with foreign universities in various international projects for students, teaching staff and the University as a whole. ERASMUS+ helps to establish new contacts and open up new opportunities for successful cooperation with higher educational institutions abroad.

– Internationalization of education, culture of education and science – these are the things which can truly connect people who speak different languages, – says Nataliya Anashkina (the Vice-rector for International Affairs) about the importance of such cooperation. – During the implementation of the international project “ERASMUS+”, USURT has acquired the partners from Europe and Asia: from Germany, Spain, Poland, Kazakhstan and other countries. The professional cooperation between the universities within the country is also strengthening. The theme of this project “Economy, Ecology and Infrastructure of High-Speed Rail Transport “(EEIHSR) is of vital importance. It’s connected with innovations in the design and construction of high-speed railways (HSR), digitalization of the transport and logistics system, its financial management, security, and environmental protection. Our joint goal with the international partners is to create a double-degree Master’s program, gain more experience in the field of high-speed railways. And this goal is being entirely implemented in USURT.

Today, the number of undergraduate students who study within the framework of the international project is 23 people in the 1st year and 25 people in the 2nd year. In accordance with the terms of  ERASMUS+ project, new disciplines were integrated into the educational process of USURT. Three of them were developed by universities that are the consortium members, they are: “Theory of transport systems, modeling”, “Economics of high-speed railway transport”, ” Organization of operation and management of train traffic on high-speed railways (including safety issues).

– Nowadays the implementation of high-speed traffic organization projects requires new approaches. These disciplines allow our students to look at high-speed traffic more broadly and from the perspective of the future. For example, the discipline “Theory of transport systems, modeling” plays a key role at the stage of justification of HSR construction. In order to correctly understand the selected priorities of HSR development, working out and implementation of various tariff schemes, design and implementation of mechanisms for connecting HSR with other modes of transport, our undergraduate students studying in the specialty “Economics, ecology and infrastructure of HSR” need to have a high level of mathematical modeling tools. This is what the course “Theory of transport systems, modeling” is dedicated to, – shares his competent opinion Alexander V. Martynenko, PhD in Physics and Mathematics, Associate Professor of “Natural Sciences” Department, the lecturer of “Theory of transport systems, modeling” discipline.

            Thus, thanks to these programs, students form the necessary set of knowledge in the field of organization and management of high-speed trains. In total, the basic part of the training program includes 12 disciplines, and they are not only technical ones. These are, for example, social communications, psychology, and business foreign language. In order to spread knowledge about this Master’s program, the University conducts professional development courses.

– The courses enable employees to improve and expand their knowledge in the field of high-speed railways, which in its turn increases their competence, – shares her practical experience Ekaterina Konysheva, the Director of the Institute of Correspondence Education, PhD in Economics, Associate Professor of “Economics of transport” Department, the lecturer of “Economics of high-speed rail transport” discipline. 

– The content is created on the basis of the modules from the EEIHSR Master’s program, the latest knowledge in the field of high-speed rail and the current needs of the enterprises. The Professional development courses for transport companies’ employees are held entirely in a digital format, remotely via the Internet. They are conducted by highly motivated lecturers and experts both from our University and partner universities, who have high professional knowledge and many years of practical experience.    

Not only the students and companies’ employees are trained in this program. Administrative and teaching staff are also involved in the project. This is what Elena  Timukhina, (Doctor of Technical Sciences, Head of “Management of operational work” Department of the Transport Management Faculty, lecturer of the discipline “Organization of operation and management of trains on high-speed railways”) says about it:

– Our University regularly hosts seminars and trainings for administrative and teaching staff. Special attention should be paid to the OPAL platform, which allows us to organize staff training online. The “ERASMUS+” course both for students and teaching staff was created in the informational and educational environment of the University on Blackboard Learn educational platform. More than 200 people are registered on the course – they are the representatives of the student community from the 1st to 5th year and the University teaching staff. The classes on the OPAL platform are held in English with consecutive translation into Russian. After passing the final exam, the lecturers will get the appropriate certificates.

The project provides for the development of the University’s laboratory facilities. Therefore, laboratory fund of “Managing of operational work” Department has been topped up with a software and simulator complex “High-speed traffic polygon”, which allows to simulate the movement of high-speed trains and to respond to students’ activities, who act as train dispatchers. Moreover, this complex makes it possible to simulate emergency situations and failures of technical means in the real time mode. Thus, the students develop skills how to act in case of emergencies in practice. The complex also collects all the necessary information, which is used to build a schedule of completed traffic with the calculation of quantitative and qualitative indicators of the dispatcher sections operation. 

And this is the opinion of Kirill Vakolyuk – the undergraduate student, the participant of  the international project:

– ERASMUS+ training is an interesting experience. Some classes are conducted in English. At first it seems difficult, but then you get involved into the communication process and everything becomes clear. This type of training has a number of advantages. It creates the environment in which you can learn both the subject and a professional foreign language. We gain international experience and relevant knowledge. This opens up the opportunities for future employment abroad and makes us the competitive specialists.

The result of this project implementation will be the book “High-speed technologies: experience, problems, prospects”, intended for the professional community – ERASMUS+ program participants. The book will include the most modern scientific approaches in the field of high-speed rail transport by combining the scientific potential of all universities from the consortium. Initially, it was intended to apply only to the program curriculum subjects which reflect the specifics of high-speed rail transport. However, now it has been decided that besides the sections from the approved curriculum there should be added the sections which are necessary for a better understanding of the high-speed rail transport system as a complex. For example, the peculiarities of passenger service on the HSR,  railway station complexes of HSR. As a result, the book will become a textbook for students and researchers in the field of high-speed transport.

On November 17, 2020, the Tenth session of the Councils of the Coordinating Transport Meeting of the countries – CIS members (CIS CTM) was held online. It was attended by USURT Vice-rector for International Affairs –  Nataliya Anashkina. The topic of her speech was the scientific and academic cooperation of USURT in the framework of the “ERASMUS +” project. The work of USURT in this project was highly appreciated by the Chairman of the Council for Education and Science, the President of RUT (MIIT) Boris  Levin, who noted the leading role of the University in this area.

– We are very glad that we have integrated into this process, because the geography of universities involved in it is quite extensive, – shared Natalia Anashkina with her colleagues. – We are united by the idea of high-speed highways, which is vital for the entire Eurasian transport community, and within the framework of its implementation there is an objective need to improve the system of training the industry specialists of the appropriate level. We are particularly pleased that this issue has consolidated the efforts of academic universities and specialized enterprises, and through them the governmental organizations. At the moment, we have analyzed our work in the ERASMUS + project and concluded that this direction is very prospective. We still have a year to go in depth on the topic of innovation in the design and construction of high-speed railways. We do hope that everything will be a success and will continue in future. Of course, high-speed railways are the future, and over time, the labor market will demand more and more well-trained specialists who will work on a fundamentally new railway. The work within the ERASMUS + project is being continued.

Elena Krasulina.