It is with deep regret and incredulity that we have learned of the decision of Rosobrnadzor in the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation to withdraw the license to teach from the European University of St Petersburg (EUSP). The consequence of this decision is that the University will henceforth have to cease instruction and other educational activities. By this action, the Ministry of Education is extinguishing one of the shining beacons of higher education and research excellence in the Russian Federation.
Since its foundation in 1994, the European University of St Petersburg has developed Masters and Doctoral programmes designed for the very best of the students from universities across the Russian Federation and abroad. The reputation of EUSP has grown precisely because of its record for producing the next generation of scholars across the humanities and social sciences. The University’s students have benefited from the high quality research-driven instruction by Professors and teaching staff, among whom are many whose scholarship is internationally-recognised. The result has been that the European University of St Petersburg has rightfully claimed a place alongside the world’s leading universities.
The decision to revoke the European University’s teaching license inflicts a blow on the cause of quality higher education in the Russian Federation, from which the whole sector will suffer. It also harms the reputation of academic scholarship in the Russian Federation more broadly by landing a fatal blow on the numerous varied and innovative programmes of international cooperation and collaboration in research, teaching and learning that have been painstakingly built over the past two decades. International scholarship has been enriched at all levels by these programmes, which have acted as rare forums for genuine and disinterested exchange of views, particularly important given the troubled geopolitical times in which we live.
Scholars working at the EUSP have been frequent visitors to BASEES conferences and workshops, participating in panels and roundtable discussions, and we have benefited from their exceptional record of publishing in the areas of the Association’s interest. This year, among others, we welcome Boris Kolonitsky, author of a definitive work on Kerensky and Veljko Vujacic, on nationalism and ethnicity in Yugoslavia and Russia.
At the present time all BASEES can do is express our solidarity with the staff and students of the European University in St Petersburg who are working to overturn the death sentence that the decision of Rosobrnadzor has pronounced on this unique seat of learning. I am sure that there are many BASEES members who are keen to contribute to the international protests surrounding the fate of the European University of St Petersburg. Because of the sensitivities associated with taking action at the present time, any letters should in the first instance be addressed to Dr Oleg Kharkhordin, the University’s Rector.