Earlier this year, SVRIA was looking for information about the new trading conditions associated with the Russian Federation's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and for useful resources both for the Institute's new academic programme and for a research project about cross-border cooperation and trade. Finding information about the Virtual Institute (Vi) on the websites of current Russian members of the Vi, the university decided to contact UNCTAD with a request for Vi membership.
The Institute, located in the city of Saratov (about 860 km south-east of Moscow, on the Volga River), is a higher education institution whose goal is to contribute to the sustainable economic and social development of the region by imparting education and training, and by providing advisory services on economic issues to the regional government, the private sector and civil society. Vi membership responds to the Institute's aim of integrating into global educational and research networks.
The Vi's main counterpart at the Institute will be the Department of Economics, which is part of the Faculty of Economics and Management. The department offers a bachelor's degree in economics with specialization in municipal management, a master's degree in economics with specialization in regional economics, and a specialist programme in customs operations. These programmes include courses on international and regional economics, international economic relations, history of economic thought, trade policy, economics of customs operations, management of international trade operations, international trade agreements, international financial relations, free economic zones, and the external economic relations of the Russian Federation.
Main areas of research include the development of rural/underdeveloped regions in the Russian Federation, cross-border cooperation between regions in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan as a way of enhancing integration into the Eurasian space, strategies for the economic and social development of the Saratov region, public-private partnerships, and Russian trade policy in the context of WTO accession. The department maintains close links with regional authorities, and provides them with research inputs for their decision-making. To streamline the provision of consultancy services to the Government, it recently established the Research and Training Centre on Regional Development.
The cooperation with the Vi will be coordinated by the Head of the Department of Economics, Valentina Gerasimova, who teaches courses on macroeconomics, trade policy, and economics of customs operations. Her research interests relate mainly to regional development. As a member of the regional governor's Economic Development Council, she has contributed to the formulation of a plan for the region, the strategy for its inclusion in the international transport corridors, and the creation of a free economic zone.
Also joining are Galina Ignatieva, Deputy Head, who teaches courses on the economic development of rural areas and on customs regulations; Tatiana Ivanova, who is responsible for courses on trade and the environment and on interregional trade; and Viktor Malein, who is in charge of the course on economic history.
The department is ready to provide training to foreign students on issues within its expertise, and to share its experience and research work. Through its Vi membership, it will seek support for the establishment of a master's programme covering foreign economic activity in the region. Another objective is to acquire experience in working with other developing countries and countries with economies in transition.