Norway freezes research and education cooperation with Russia

Rector Anne Borg supports the restrictions that the government is now imposing on academic cooperation with Russia.

Rector Anne Borg. Photo: Thomas Høstad/NTNU

Rector Anne Borg supports the restrictions that the government is now imposing on academic cooperation with Russia.

The government has decided that research cooperation with Russia will be frozen, as one of the sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

– The responsibility for the grave situation in Europe lies with the Russian authorities, and the attack on Ukraine must also have consequences for research and education cooperation. We are therefore suspending all dialogue with Russian authorities, and as a general rule, all institutional agreements between Norwegian and Russian research and educational institutions will be put on hold, stated the Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe in a press release from the government.

Peaceful weapon

Rector Anne Borg supports the decision.

– Those responsible for the war in Ukraine are violating the core values that universities represent – the search for truth, independence and humanism. Democracy and international law are under attack. That is why we must respond. Freezing cooperation is a peaceful weapon, but history has shown that it can have a great effect, says Borg.

She emphasizes that the measure is a signal to President Putin and Russian leaders to stop the war. The measures are not aimed at Russian colleagues in academia, even though they will also be affected by the restrictions.

– It is important that we do not stigmatize Russian employees and students who are here in Norway. On the contrary, we must support them as best we can, because ordinary Russians are also losing out in this senseless conflict. Showing respect and consideration should also be our hallmark at NTNU, says the Rector.

– Looking after students and staff who are affected by this war is a priority, Borg emphasizes.

This is how knowledge cooperation with Russia will be restricted:

  • The Ministry of Education and Research and subordinate agencies are suspending all dialogue with Russian authorities
  • The Research Council of Norway’s joint call for proposals with Russia will be stopped
  • The Norwegian-Russian education agreement will be suspended
  • The negotiated research agreement with Russia will be put on hold
  • As a general rule, all agreements between Norwegian and Russian institutions will be put on hold. Institutions may choose to maintain agreements, but a thorough assessment must be made in each case. Until further notice, agreements and cooperation in nuclear emergency preparedness, as well as in fisheries and resource management, will continue as before.
  • At the same time, it is desirable that researchers can continue to have contact with each other across national borders (so-called researcher-to-researcher collaboration).

Limited cooperation

In recent years, NTNU has had relatively limited cooperation with Russia. The university has eight cooperation agreements with Russian institutions, which are mainly centred on education. In some academic communities, there may also be some researcher-to-researcher collaboration that is not registered centrally.

In recent years, researchers from NTNU have participated in about 100 co-publications per year with researchers from Russian institutions. The extent of collaboration at the project level is limited and there have been fewer projects in recent years.

Norway will also consider whether there is a need for further restrictions, with especially close monitoring of the discussions taking place in Brussels about the consequences this will have for Russian participation in Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe.