On the festive eighth of March students, teachers and Academic management of Varna Free University "Chernorizets Hrabar" met with the mayor Mr. Ivan Portnih.
The official start of the Days of Architecture in Varna Free University was given at 12.30 at the central lobby of the university with an exhibition of project and diploma assignments of students majoring in "Architecture" and "Design".
“Today you will see an exhibition that shows what our students do but it is only the start of Days of Architecture. For six days Varna Free University will be the capital of architecture. We will meet leading academics, experts from practice as well as our alumni who will talk about their realization after they graduated from Varna Free University. We will talk about iconic buildings in Varna that our city can and should be proud of”, the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at Varna Free University corresponding member D. Sc. Prof. Arch. Atanas Kovachev said in his welcoming speech at the opening of the exhibition.
“Varna can be a city that can compare with Vienna, Zurich, Vancouver, Copenhagen, because it has that potential. We are ready with our efforts - using creative students’ thinking and teaching expertise to introduce a whole range of ideas that can be realized”, said Prof. Kovachev.
The initiative under the slogan "Varna - a Preferred Study Destination" presented priority projects on which Varna Free University works. Among them are the Institute for integrated management of municipalities, the accelerator program to support students’ entrepreneurship, the new Bulgarian-Norwegian educational programs of VFU in partnership with the Norwegian Business School and the Student Laboratory "Varna – a City for the People."
The forum was opened by the President of the Varna Free University Prof. D. Sc. Anna Nedyalkova. The aim of these traditional for the university meetings is to integrate everyone to what we do - to present our ideas to our students and colleagues and to our partners from practice; everything that we will present today is united under the slogan “Varna - Preferred Study Destination”, said Prof. Nedyalkova. “We value the development of all youth policies, tourism structural development and other priority sectors, but declare our ambition that education is to become the first pillar in the smart specialization of Varna.
On behalf of the academic community of Varna Free University Prof. Nedyalkova handed the mayor a concept entitled "Varna - a Preferred Study Destination" containing the main directions for the development of academic brand of the city, stimulating the entrepreneurial environment and the establishment of more active cooperation between the municipality, universities and businesses.
The document contained the basic measures to achieve synergy between the various partners, united by the idea to turn Varna into an attractive international destination for education and entrepreneurship.
During the forum, whose mediator was the Rector of Varna Free University Prof. D.Sc. Galya Gercheva, the four priority projects in the work of the university were presented.
The Institute for Integrated Management of Municipalities was presented by its Director – the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar" Prof. Kovachev. He outlined the main mission and objectives in the work of the newly established structural unit: to contribute to sustainable and intelligent development of municipalities by preparing personnel for their management, developing research, entrepreneurship and innovation in accordance with the concept of "Smart City".
The Acceleration program to support student entrepreneurship developed by Varna Free University presented the Dean of the Faculty of International Economics and Administration Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eleonora Tankova. “The program aims at supporting the realization of student entrepreneurial initiatives and the development of teams for realization of new business ideas. The Student Business Incubator is a favorable environment for starting one’s own company and sharing best practices”, said Prof. Tankova. “Students from our partners’ schools that have a business idea of their own and need support to implement it, or those who want to find their realization by supporting the knowledge and skills of their colleagues can join the Incubator.”
“The accelerator provides expertise, training and management consulting, marketing, business analysis and planning, innovation and technology, accounting, law, etc. as well as contacts with leading companies, experts and investors from practice to start their own business in short terms.
We would like to encourage talented school and university students who wish to set up their own companies in the region in one of the following areas Mobility, HealthTech, Security and to contribute to improving the quality of life by supporting the regional economy. In only two weeks’ time almost 30 students have been registered in the platform; they have expressed their interest to take part in the Accelerator program, and on March 17 (Friday) 2017, an informational meeting for participants is to be held, announced Assoc. Prof. Tankova.
She announced the next major event within the program – a meeting with mentors and investors from Silicon Valley to be held on April 27th.
The new Bulgarian-Norwegian educational programs of VFU in partnership with the Norwegian Business School, was presented by the Vice-Rector for International Relations, Projects and Development Prof. Dr. Teodora Bakardjieva. She defined the realization of the programs as a bridge between the two educational systems. A short informative film showing the synergy between the two academic institutions was shown as part of her presentation.
Education in both Bachelor’s degree programs "International Relations" and "Finance and Accounting" is in English, as in their fourth year students will have the opportunity to study in Norway. An international team of lecturers and experts was formed and the students will be awarded two diplomas. Admission to the new programs has already started; on March 22nd representatives of the Norwegian Business School arrive at Varna Free University.
The Student Laboratory "Varna – a City for the People" was presented by Arch. Tsveta Zhekova, PhD coordinator of the project. She outlined the main points in the preliminary work for the development of the concept regarding the work of the laboratory created by the President of Varna Free University Prof. D. Sc. Anna Nedyalkova with the support of the Mayor of the city Mr. Ivan Portnih. The idea is that students from Varna Free University, students from the Vocational School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy "Vasil Levski" and representatives of the district administration design projects to make the urban environment more aesthetic, which are to be implemented in the next three years.
At the discussion during the meeting the young people asked the mayor their questions and outlined important issues relating to the infrastructure and youth initiatives in the city.
The mayor Ivan Portnih welcomed the position of the academic management of Varna Free University to turn the marine capital into an attractive educational center. “This fits in with our concept - Varna - a city of knowledge, on which we actively work. We are committed to all youth initiatives that lead to sustainable development. You can count on our support”, said Ivan Portnih.
He added that they actively work in the direction education - career - higher incomes and recalled that this year more than 104 million leva, a record funding, was intended for education. The new projects - the library, the Black Sea International Youth Centre as a place to attract startups, were some of the accents in the mayor’s statement. Ivan Portnih emphasized that Varna is developing upward; according to the statistics in 2015 the region took first place in direct foreign investment. The indirect indicators such as the great interest of low-cost carriers, which in two months’ time opened 9 new year-round routes from Varna to various points in Europe are also important”, said the mayor.
“Will there be more playgrounds and a skate park?” “Is there a possibility for students to use discounts on the public transport?” were some of the questions the young people asked Ivan Portnih. "We have budgeted between 5 and 7 million leva to build 80 combined playgrounds throughout the city, as well as 4 sports centers. Working on basketball courts, football fields and fitness centers in the yards of 10 schools starts in March," said the mayor. He added that he expects from the youth organizations to reach an agreement on the location of the skate park.
The mayor undertook the task to talk with the management of the municipal company Varna Public Transport to provide free travel cards for students from Varna universities.