“All our course and study programs must reflect and answer the needs of knowledge and competence of our users and partners in education in the society. If we cannot help solving fundamental problems in society and improve the living conditions of people, we have failed our mission and responsibility as higher education and research institution. The exchange of experiences and knowledge between faculty members of NEFU and our international partners, from northern regions and countries in the first place, will hopefully strengthen our capacity to do so. The University of the Arctic has facilitated internationalization of education and research at our institution, ” said Dr. Eugenia Mikhailova, rector of the North-Eastern Federal University of Yakutsk (NEFU) at a meeting with representatives of the UArctic thematic network on local and regional development, the Institute of Finance and Economics (IFE) and the Institute of Northern Studies, our main network partners at NEFU.

The objectives of the meeting with the rector was, however, to discuss practicalities in relation to the transfer of leadership of the UArctic network and the international Gargia conference for regional development in the North from UiT/The Arctic University of Norway, Alta, to NEFU, Yakutsk, the continuation of the joint international research and development project for social and economic development of rural Yakutia, the summer school program in regional development at IFE/NEFU, and the celebration of 5 years successful international R&D-cooperation through the University of the Arctic. All the network projects for 2014-14, presented by Dr. Alexandr Kugaevskiy and Dr. Oxana Romanova, director and vice director of IFE/NEFU, were approved by the rector, including network funding for three years. The first international Gargia-Oktemtsy conference for local and regional development in the Circumpolar North will be organized in the rural municipality of Oktemtsy close to Yakutsk, June 23-27, including a two days excursion in the Khangalassky region, hosted by Jury Saitzer, head of the regional administration. The week before the conference, on June 20-21, local and regional authorities of the Khangalassky region will organize the traditional Seth festival, the Yakutian New Year celebration, for the whole republic. Saitzer, as well as the rector of NEFU and the conference organizers would like the participants of the international Gargia-Oktemtsy Conference 2014 also to take part in the festival.

The official transfer of network leadership will take place at the Gargia-Oktemtsy conference in June, with a traditional Yakutian ceremony. But already now, after last week’s the network meetings in Yakutsk, Oktemtsy and Pakrovsk, the regional center of Khangalassky, we can say that the transfer of network leadership from UiT/The Arctic University of Norway, Alta to IFE/NEFU in Yakutsk has been successful. The new leader, Oxana Romanova, has done an excellent job in preparing the network’s action plan for 2014-15, funding of network administration, the summer school program and the Gargia-Oktemtsy Conference 2014.

After 5 years of joint international education, research and development work in rural communities and regions of Yakutia it is time to look back, evaluate and report, and if necessary adjust the course of future cooperation in this field. We have been successful, but also experienced failure on the way. Therefore it is a time for analysis and reflection, but also for celebration.