Experts are looking for a mechanism to increase effectiveness of study tours to Russia by young foreign visitors

11 december 2013

Analytical Centre experts have discussed the programme of short-term study visits to the Russian Federation by young representatives of political, social, scientific and business circles from foreign countries for the year 2014 and the following years.

Yuri Dubovoi, the Head of the Department for the Youth and Communication Programs of the Russian federal cultural agency, known in Russian as Rossotrudnichestvo, presented a departmental special-purpose programme called New Generation, and talked about its objectives and preliminary results. "The program is to be implemented over three years, starting next year, and 1,000 people will participate in it each year," he stated.

Alexander Konkov, Head of Department for Organization of International Expertise of Analytical Centre presented the cases when the Analytical Center collaborated with young foreign experts. He mentioned the importance of basing such work on the strategic priorities of Russia's development as set out by the relevant legislation and also spoke of the positive impact that collaboration with young experts from around the world has on Russia’s global image.

However, according to the experts, implementation of programmes of short-term study tours to Russia faces a number of challenges. According to Alex Dolinsky, partner at Capstone Connections, they are well-recognized. "What is important for today is to find mechanisms for improving efficiency and transparency," Dolinsky said. “That is why it is necessary to increase transparency of the organization and its management, as well as to get NGOs more actively involved in this work," he said.

During the roundtable discussion, experts made ​​suggestions regarding possible changes to the legal framework with regard to its regulatory and financial components. "We need to improve the legal framework, which will provide for individual grants for young foreign experts", noted Natalia Burlinova, Programme Director at the Gorchakov Fund for Public Diplomacy Support. The participants also stressed the need to incentivize various organizations to hold events for foreign visitors.

The participants of the roundtable discussion also raised the issue of a need to improve the system of selection of potential study tours participants. In particular, this can be done by addressing reputable foreign and Russian experts, cooperating with scientific organizations, using social networks. "At the present time, no expert panels are held with regard to study tours to Russia, while potentially they could be of great use,” said Yan Vaslavsky, Director of the School of Government and International Affairs at MGIMO University. According to him, holding such expert panels can help to select people for various study tours, generate relevant ideas, and assess the efficiency of work.

To execute the programme to the full efforts by Rossotrudnichestvo alone are not enough, an active role should be played here by public bodies, business entities and expert community. On the whole, public authorities must play a strategic role (determining the goals and objectives and then monitoring and controlling performance on the set indicators), while more specific tasks could be best handled by NGOs, who, according to experts, are expected to be more effective in coping with the tasks in this field.