One of the greatest advantages of student mobility is that the students were bringing home new knowledge and technology expertise. This benefit was on both academic as well as non-academic fields. The students could see things from another perspective and learn from other countries with different cultures and approaches to issues. The students usually emphasize the high relevance of new knowledge and experiences related to the North helping them to gain knowledge about the North and their home regions. At the same time the stereotypes are built down. The Ural Federal University said that it matters for their engineering students to see new equipment and new techniques. The participation in the north2north mobility program give them the opportunity to visit areas with a similar climate, similar challenges and goals: this doubles the relevance of the mobility program.
A discussion about teaching methods in Russia and in the Nordic countries highlighted experiences from students who had been on exchange and experienced different cultural approaches on to how to teach or solve a challenge/problem. In Russia, the approach is more theoretical-based than in the Nordic countries where the approach is less theoretical and more practical, including case studies and debates on how to solve problems. At least one Russian institution mentioned that north2north students who had been on exchange to other Nordic countries brought their new experiences back to their home institutions and asked for changes in the way to teach, preferring new forms of debates and interactive lectures.
A great example of effect of different teaching methods is Russian-Norwegian cooperation with Social Work students, where students from both countries who had taken part in joint psychology classes as a part of the Social Work training. The Norwegian students experienced that the Russian students had a much better theoretical knowledge and a better overview over the academic literature than them, but that it was more difficult for them to use them in a practical situation. The Norwegian students were able to solve practical situations, but had less knowledge of the theories and academic literature. The Russian students had an eye-opener while experiencing their theoretical knowledge as tools for use in a practical situation.
Many north2north exchange students take Advanced Emphasis courses as part of UArctic developed Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies (BCS). Several BCS students have told about how they got a better understanding of how to solve problems when it comes to cross-border cooperation, unofficial diplomacy and conflicts that are relative to the North after that they had been on exchange. Travelling to another country of the Arctic helped them to understand how things are working on different parts of the North and see how other populations analyze things with their own perspectives. In some cases, students reported that they had a better understanding of these issues than official persons did.
The discussion raised up a perception, that the students who have taken education in the Arctic region usually choose to stay in the North, but the large majority of them want to live in large towns. Graduated students from the Murmansk or the Arkhangelsk region decide very often not go back to the places they come from if it is a small village. There are several reasons to this choice: the likelihood to find a job in accordance with the education taken is much higher in larger towns than in small and remote places. In addition, the salaries are much higher in large towns and the infrastructures better. The places with less job opportunities are seen as places with no carrier opportunities and less chances for the future.
The north2north mobility program attracts students with an already explicit northern attitude and the exchange period often makes the students’ northern approach even stronger. The students’ mobility period add experiences with Artic relevance. This make it more likely that the student would decide to stay in the North after the exchange.
Institutions represented in the panel were: Northern State Medical University, Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Petrozavodsk State University, Industrial University of Tyumen, Ural Federal University, Tyumen State University, Syktyvkar State University, Russian State Hydrometerological University, North-Eastern Federal University, Surgut Pedagogical University.