On December 23, Saint Petersburg University took the lead among the founding members of the Global MOOC Alliance to hold an online press conference concentrating on the purpose and cooperation of the alliance at ITAR-TASS, Russia’s largest news agency. Participants from the founding members of the Alliance, such as Saint Petersburg University, Tsinghua University, XuetangX and Mongolian University of Science and Technology attended the meeting.

Saint Petersburg University has become the first Russian university to join the Global MOOC Alliance, Sergey Andryushin, Vice President of International Affairs, said at the press conference. Saint Petersburg University has been cooperating well with Chinese universities and enterprises. At present, more and more Chinese students are coming to Saint Petersburg University to study, and the university offers more and more Chinese language courses. In 2019, Saint Petersburg University and Tsinghua University established a special research center, and now the cooperation based on online education has given birth to a new co-working mode between the two universities.

Vladimir Starostenko, Head of the Centre of E-learning Development at Saint Petersburg University, said Saint Petersburg University was honored to join the Global MOOC Alliance. Saint Petersburg University set up an online education platform together with other Russian universities in 2015, and began offering distance education resources to other countries through that MOOC platform in 2017. Saint Petersburg University is also the only Russian university joining the XuetangX platform. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, students from 89 different universities around the world have taken online courses from Saint Petersburg University. Vladimir Starostenko stressed that whatever difficulties there may be, they all can be overcome as long as we unite.

WANG Xiaoxiao, Associate Dean of Office of Lifelong Education Administration and Undergraduate Academic Affairs Office of Tsinghua University, said the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 was an important turning point in the development of online education, which has changed from a useful supplement of formal education in the past to an important ingredient of it. At the same time, the outbreak has made us realize the indispensable values of online education in promoting international cooperation. The deep integration between information technology and education and teaching will play a great role in transforming educational conceptions, updating educational modes and promoting the morphological changes of higher education in the future. In this context, we issued the call for the establishment of the Global MOOC Alliance. We would like to thank Saint Petersburg University for its strong support, and hope we can work together to deepen our cooperation in building more open, integrated and resilient universities in the future.

WANG Shuaiguo, President of XuetangX, said that XuetangX, the first MOOC platform in China, has now more than 63 million learners. Since building ties with Saint Petersburg University in 2019, they have become very friendly and close partners. He is very pleased that both XuetangX and Saint Petersburg University are founding members of the Global MOOC Alliance. He looks forward to working together in this context to shoulder the challenges and opportunities of global education in the age of Internet. He hopes that XuetangX will bring more Saint Petersburg University courses to Chinese scholars.

WANG Hui, Associate Dean of Office of International Affairs at Tsinghua University, said that enjoying a prolonged history, Saint Petersburg University has cultivated many excellent talents. Saint Petersburg University and Tsinghua University possess a good foundation of cooperation. They conferred honorary doctorates to each other’s heads of state in 2019. In the same year, Tsinghua University and Saint Petersburg University jointly established the Russia Research Institute. In the future, Tsinghua University will continue to work on exploring cooperation with Saint Petersburg University in joint scientific research, innovative talent training and teacher-student exchanges. We are very glad that Saint Petersburg University has joined the Global MOOC Alliance. We hope that the two universities can set a good example, and through enhanced cooperation play a leading, exemplary role in their respective countries and regions.

Afterwards, representatives of the two universities answered the reporters’ questions about some specific issues in alliance cooperation, future construction, and developmental direction of online courses.

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