“In Co-Authorship with Students”: Vice-Rector Vyacheslav Burmatov about Youth Policy of SUSU

Colossal attention at South Ural State University is paid to self-fulfillment of students within their extracurricular activities. Which directions are prioritized when working with young people? What steps are being made to develop volunteering? How can students become the authors of unique projects and get support in their implementation? These and many other issues have been discussed with Vice-Rector for Student Affairs, Vyacheslav Burmatov.

Mr. Burmatov, please tell us, why is it important to pay attention to youth policy? Who is in your team?

We try to target our activity at creation, so that its result was well-being and prosperity of South Ural State University. We need to pay attention to tendencies of our time, and we need to have a certain vision and understanding of who we are working with, as well as of demands set forth by the young generation.

Implementation of youth policy at the university is the responsibility of a big team, a very consolidated and active one. This team is ready to go towards the common goals. First of all, this is Extracurricular Activities Department, SUSU’s Trade Union Committee, and Student Union. Each representative of the team has their own unique role and constantly keeps in touch with students. This allows us getting feedback and keep a finger on the pulse.

We need to understand the mood formed in the student environment”

What goals have been set by the university in the sphere of youth policy and extracurricular activity?

We have many goals; all of them are topical and very important. The goals are usually set by the Rector Aleksandr Shestakov. I would like to express my gratitude to the Rector for the attention that he pays to the issues of youth policy. These issues are always in the focus. This was proved by the meeting of the University Council held on April 29. It was the first time when youth policy issues were the key issues on the agenda. I delivered a report, in which I tried to present a complex vision of this sphere of activity. And the fact that the issues, directly regarding the youth, are to be solved by the University Council is another proof of how serious and important they are.

On the top of the list of goals and priorities, aside from improving the already-achieved results and applying new approaches in working with the youth, is the readiness of the university to hold international events scheduled for 2020, both within the frameworks of organising the volunteering, and in holding activities preceding to these events. We are already planning allocation of our resources in the next year, as the number of students taking part in holding the SCO and BRICS summits is colossal. However, there is still current activity of the university, which should be accurately organised no matter what.

The second prioritized direction of activity is connected with grant support. We carry out systematic work in this direction.

The third direction regards monitoring of emotional and psychological state of the youth. This issue is extremely important because we need to understand the mood formed in the student environment. We are ready to adjust our activity based on demands set forth by students.

Also, within the report, a serious analysis of resources at students’ disposal was carried out. These resources were analyzed from the position of legal instruments, available for every student, finance allocated for support of studentship, as well as assistance that can be provided to students.

A space for self-fulfillment and leisure of students

We separately considered the issue regarding a space for self-fulfillment of students. This space included the House of Volunteers 2020 Resource Centre, the by-now a few student lounges that we established at the end of 2018, the halls of the concert-and-creativity association, and sport facilities, including the football field near the Palace of Culture named after D.V. Kolyushchenko which is equipped with professional cover, and to which SUSU students have free access starting from this year.

In summer time, the favorite place of students, without a doubt, is the Olimp camp. In the last few years, serious money has been spent for its technical re-equipment. For example, this year a serious renovation is planned to be done at its sportsground. By the way, this was one of the students’ wishes traditionally granted by the Rector on Tatiana (Students’) Day. At the same time, the camp is popular due to its theme-related shifts. We have already determined themes for each shift; all who interested can get any information regarding the camp by addressing Veronika Livonchik, office 339 of the main building.

About volunteering: “We will try to keep the bar high”

Nowadays, the university actively carries out events targeted at training volunteers: a resource centre has been established, and a department responsible for organising activity of volunteers has been created. What are the prospects of development in this direction?

– The prospects are clear, there will be a lot of work. Students, with whom specialists of the Department are working, are going to become the main “carcass” in organising events in 2020, the SCO and BRICS summits. In September, we are going to start official admissions of volunteers’ applications for participation in the upcoming events of 2020. We are going to recruit a colossal amount of students: we will need about 750 students with decent knowledge of the language and the etiquette, who are to be approved at all levels. Before the start, we understand that this number should be increased at least two times: we are going to need about 1500 people. We have high expectations for specialists of the department and its Head, Gennadiy Budanov; they are not sitting on their hands. The first stage of training at the School of Training Volunteers for the 2020 International Events has already completed, so its logical continuation will be training of volunteers at the Olimp camp.

I would like to note that in this year’s April the university was visited by a delegation from the Roscongress Foundation, the direct supervisor of preparation of the entire region to the summits of 2020. Representatives of the Foundation performed training of our volunteers at SUSU. This means that, from the one hand, this block of issues is in the purview of organisers and a lot of attention is paid to it; from the other hand, this means acknowledgment of the high level of arranging the processes of recruitment and training of volunteers at SUSU. We will try to keep the bar high.

Grants fit organically into the frameworks of this activity. With the subsidies, we are planning to keep improving the House of Volunteers 2020 Resource Centre. Thanks to the grant obtained, we have already furnished and equipped it for more than 600 thousand rubles, and we will keep improving it. We hope to make this Centre maximally comfortable and functional, so that our volunteering activity kept developing successfully.

“Grants allow improving methods and forms that we use”

Please tell us more about the grants.

In its essence, support in the form of grants and subsidies today is the main mechanism of financing student activities provided by authorities of various level, who are responsible for implementation of youth policy. At the federal level, there are Rosmolodezh and the Presidential Grants Foundation; at the regional and municipal levels, they are the Ministry of Social Relations of the Chelyabinsk region and the Department for Youth Affairs of the Chelyabinsk Administration.

Our university carries out systematic work regarding admissions of grant applications: they are and will keep being submitted. The university achieved serious success in this sphere. In 2017, SUSU got 2 400 000 rubles in order to support 21 student projects. In 2018, the university obtained 6 150 000 for support of 8 major projects.

I would like to mention one more grant, the regional contest called “Student Initiative”, which is held under sponsorship of the Governor of the Chelyabinsk region upon initiative by a Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Burmatov. At the end of the last year, thanks to this contest, the university received 750 000 rubles for implementation of 21 student projects. Each winner got 20 to 50 thousand rubles in order to implement one project or another.

Several events, organised thanks to the grant, were held, and experience shows that this money is quite enough to create something outstanding and relevant, which would allow students, who never felt like being a part of students’ research activity, to make a claim. For me, this is principally important aspect, as we not just have to work on involving a larger number of students into extracurricular activities, we also need to improve the forms and methods that we use. Such contests allow expanding the toolkit.

From the beginning of this year, we have already submitted grant applications to the Presidential Grants Foundation, Rospatriotcenter, and the region’s Ministry of Social Relations. In the nearest future, representatives of the university are going for a study in Moscow, after which we expect announcement on the beginning of the contest for the Rosmolodezh grant.

About self-fulfillment of students: “Students’ initiatives get a lively feedback”

You touched the subject of students acting as event organisers. What ideas do they have when appealing to you?

They come with various initiatives, many of which get a lively feedback. Some ideas were brought up for the first time, and I am sure they will go on. As an example, I would like to tell you about the ecology festival called “Myata”, which has been implemented within the Student Initiative grant, the author of which is Tatiana Busorgina. The project is targeted at ecology-related education; the main idea is waste sorting, which was first introduced in our university, and then the idea got successfully adopted by other higher education institutions. Within a project called “Upcycle”, implemented by Viktoria Liubimova, master classes on creation of new things out of decomposition-resistant materials were held. The idea got supported by the audience; some truly interesting items, which have got a chance for the second life, were made without any harm for the environment.

There is also a remarkable project called “Naslediye” (Heritage), implemented upon an initiative proposed by Kirill Chernoshvets. In the dead of winter, students went on multiple trips to municipal settlements for social and educational activities; for example, they provided assistance to elderly people, shoveled away snow, and performed with concerts at schools.

A contest entitled “I am a student, this is how I see things”, the author of which is Tatiana Serebrennikova, was held for the first time. In my opinion, this is an excellent idea for students, who don’t want to see blank grey walls in their alma-mater and care enough to change it. They proposed their project intended to change the interior of the university, of specific locations. As a result, one of the projects has been selected; it is to be placed in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science not far from the Student Council. This will allow greatly variegating the inner space of the university.

“We are maximally open for all innovations”

Today students express their activity and civic position not just through participation in events but also in social networks. What is your assessment of this tendency?

This is a fact and we have to deal with this. If we are talking about arranging events, they are destined to fail without corresponding support via social networks. We intend to use this actively. Let me explain. In April, we held the Miss and Mister SUSU contest, a large-scale event with a very serious budget, preparation for which lasted for two months. As we understand, without the support provided by sponsors and partners, this event would be half as massive. So that you could relate, the group of the contest in VKontakte has 13 thousand followers, another thousand is the followers subscribed for its Instagram account. I think, this resource is being underestimated, as it potentially can excite interest of companies that would want to be presented at some events, where the main audience are vivid, active and creative young people.

If we are to talk about informing of students in the frameworks of extracurricular activity, social networks and the university’s website are on top of the list. Correct informing and constant feedback, just like supporting the initiatives of our students, is the measures that we take to make their extracurricular activity more successful, fruitful and comfortable.

I would like to say that it would be great if student policy at the university was carried out in co-authorship with students. I would like people to know that we are maximally open for all ideas, forms and innovations that are somehow connected with the life of our students. For example, students can share their initiatives and proposals with chairmen of student councils of their higher schools and institutes, who in turn will inform the Head of the United Student Council and other officials of the university responsible for student affairs. Students don’t need to stay in line for talking to me as well: I am always ready to discuss different ideas and projects; it is especially nice when students leave the room with all their problems solved.

We are talking on the threshold of the exam session. Would you like to wish something for students?

Yes. I would like to wish all students to pass the exam session successfully. There are smart students studying at SUSU, who can adequately manage their time and resources. With proper motivation, I am sure that any of them are capable of solving all problems and completing all assignments within the exam session, like this is just one serious quest. I wish for those who hasn’t got such a motivation to get one as soon as possible; otherwise, its absence can linger even after graduation from the university. I wish for those who are too lazy to change anything or even think about such things to change their attitude to issues related to their study. One way or another, we all keep studying even after graduating the university. They are useful and important skills, necessary in the modern competitive environment. Don’t waste your time, the exam session is coming!

Azaliya Sharafutdinova
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