Murmansk opens the Arctic "super university"

With the Arctic becoming an object of steadily growing attention, Murmansk Oblast establishes the “Arctic University” to prepare Barents students for jobs in Arctic oil and gas projects. 


The first news about the establishment of the Arctic University appeared in the local media last autumn, when the government had created a special working group. Today, the topic is being actively discussed both on the regional, national and international level. 

The Arctic University will reportedly offer unique resources: more than six hundred professors and teachers, and more than twenty groups of higher education majors. A base for the Arctic University will be the present Murmansk State Humanities University.

“This will help to create a “super university” with more than twelve thousand students, covering virtually the entire spectrum of professional training needed for realization of Arctic projects”, writes the government of Murmansk Oblast in a press release.

This September, the head of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, Dmitriy Livanov, supported the initiative; and a few weeks ago, the issue was discussed at a meeting between the governor of Murmansk Oblast, Marina Kovtun, and Vladimir Putin.

“Getting support from the President will be the starting point in the establishment of the Arctic University with twelve thousand students. The aim of our new personnel policy is to ensure that young Northerners are employed in Arctic oil and gas projects. I am sure that with the establishment of the Arctic University we will reach this goal,” Kovtun recently stated in the regional government’s daily briefing.

From October 26, the Murmansk State Humanities University is officially called the “Murmansk Arctic State University”. From now on, the university expects great changes, said the SeverPost incumbent principal of the Murmansk Arctic State University, Irina Shadrina. In addition, she said that the Kola branch of the Petrozavodsk State University, and the Hibiny Technical College, will join the university. It has also been reported about a possible joining of the Murmansk State Technical University to the Arctic University.

Barents Russia: highest number of students, but lowest level of education
Today, there are at least twenty institutions of higher education in the Barents Region, shows an overview put together by Patchwork Barents. The overview shows the institutions’ size according to the number of students. According to the data assembled by Patchwork Barents, the largest number of students (131,800) is found in Barents Russia. Almost half of them study in Petrozavodsk State University, which educates sixty thousand people. 

Barents Finland and Barents Sweden educate around fifty and forty thousand students, respectively.

Barents Norway, as a whole, has the lowest number of students – all in all, about twenty thousand. The University of Tromsø (The Arctic University of Norway), which is the largest institution in Northern Norway, has only 10,500 students. The other institutions in Barents Norway that are included in the overview, educate between two hundred and six thousand people. 

The Karelian State Pedagogical Academy in Petrozavodsk, built in 1931, is among the oldest higher education institutions in the Barents Region. The youngest institution, Lapland University of Applied Sciences, was established in Rovaniemi in 2014.

According to the latest data from Patchwork Barents, Sweden takes first place in the Barents Region by level of education. In 2013, about thirty percent of the population in Barents Sweden held a higher education degree. Barents Sweden is followed by Barents Norway (25.2 percent in 2013) and Finland (24.3% in 2012). In Barents Russia, on average, only 18.3 percent of the population held a higher education degree, shows the latest data (2010) from Rosstat.

This story is published in collaboration with Patchwork Barents.