The fifth study tour for Vi’s Russian university members gathered 56 students and 9 lecturers in Geneva March 26-30, for a week-long training programme around international trade, investment and development issues.
Experts from UNCTAD, WTO and ITC gave students the opportunity to raise questions and initiate discussions on hot topics, such as reform of the international financial architecture, South-South integration and Russia's accession to the WTO.
The students, from Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes in international economics, business, finance, international relations and law, also expanded their knowledge on science, technology and innovation, dispute settlement mechanisms, foreign direct investment and the role of government in tomorrow's international trade, among others.
The group, representing Vi’s five Russian members -- State University Higher School of Economics, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance, and the North-West Institute-- had heard about the UNCTAD Vi study tour from their predecessors and found that their expectations had been fully met.
“We were provided with information which is quite difficult to find in books,” one of the students said. “We discussed really challenging issues,” said another.
The students gave top marks to this year’s simulation exercise, in which they assumed the roles of government officials and private sector representatives to make recommendations in favor or against an investment proposal from a foreign company in a fictitious country.
“We had a wonderful opportunity to act as politicians, to understand their responsibility while making decisions crucial to the national economy,” commented a student. Others added: “This exercise was an opportunity to implement the knowledge we got during the lectures into practice,” and, “It made us think.”
The study tour included a visit to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation, where Ambassador Alexei N. Borodavkin and a team of trade counselors explained their work at UNCTAD and the WTO, particularly the negotiation process in the WTO. Many questions concerning the accession package and future challenges for their country were answered.
“The programme of the Vi was quite diverse and covered a lot of very interesting issues,” concluded a student.
“All these things that Vi is doing are amazing; it helps students so much,” added another.