Diplomat Magazine: Vice Rector Ismailzade, ADA was set up as an academy arm of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, today however it is a fully accredited university with a brilliant reputation. Can you tell us, how the academy evolved, and what do you foresee in the future? –
ADA has evolved greatly in the last 14 years. It was established in 2006 as the Foreign Service was expanding, in fact from 25 to 40 and eventually to 75 embassies worldwide. In the beginning we were training diplomats, approximately 450, who swiftly went abroad for their posting. After a couple of years, we realised that we had the capability to offer programmes on international affairs to a more general student pool with degree options.
We began with master degrees for the postgraduates, a couple of years later we opened bachelor programmes and nowadays we are a fully accredited university. We are a fairly broad university, for our array of programmes include information technology, business degrees, computer engineering, data analysis, education management, pedagogy, etc., in addition to the ones on international law and affairs.
Diplomat Magazine: ADA has a close partnership with UN? How did it come about? –
From the very first day we positioned ourselves as a global player. We offer scholarships for students hailing from developing countries. Our contacts to UN agencies are outstanding, and through them we are able to recruit students but also host high-level functions. One example is an event we held together with UNICEF about people living with disabilities, with the UNDP (United Nations Development Assistance Plan) about the UN Development Goals, etc.
We believe that through cooperation with UN institutions our university can more easily reach out to policy-makers, and contribute to educating students able to tackle problems on a larger scale.
Diplomat Magazine: How about the relations to the European Union? Do you foresee a partnership with the EU External Action Service? –
Particularly with the EU delegation in Baku we hold a good relationship. For instance, in 2014 we inked an agreement, and set up an Excellence Centre in EU studies. Through the latter we offer extraordinary education on EU affairs, policy, institutions for our students but likewise for Azerbaijani civil servants, not only from the Foreign Service.
Through EU funding we have trained local teachers in Azerbaijan, organized summer camps, and exchanges with our students.
Currently we have various exchange agreements with a myriad of EU universities, and not only for our students but also for our faculty staff and administrators who are able to expand in their curricula through experiences in EU countries.
Diplomatic Magazine: Azerbaijan’s mission to the European Union is headed by top Ambassador Fuad İsgəndərov. How is the cooperation with him, and his mission to expand ADA’s network, and programmes vis-à-vis the EU?
Particularly with our mission to Brussels we work closely. In fact, they offer internships to our students, and possibilities for study trips to Brussels.
Through them we are successful in gaining access to top lecturers for our students such as the then President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. We often host EU commissioners as well.
Our Ambassador Fuad İsgəndərov, and the other diplomats are rather helpful for us, especially in obtaining visas but likewise in facilitating communications when we attend EU sponsored events, or the other way around.
Diplomatic Magazine: Over forty countries are represented in ADA’s student corps. What is the strategy to entice international students to Baku, and does it follow any goal in the country’s foreign policy?-
We believe that in a globalised world, students ought to learn from each other’s, outside their national boundaries. International students bring much diversity to our campus. Around 40 nationalities are currently represented at ADA, and in fact we rely remarkably on our diplomatic networks to entice more students.
For our Azerbaijani students we offer them our network, and partnerships with over 60 universities globally. All in our goal is for ADA to enhance cultures of tolerance by becoming acquainted to other people, religions, traditions, people. Even one term exchange semesters are very practical, and we have noticed that they bring a lot of value to our student network, and alumni.
Diplomatic Magazine: Currently programmes at ADA are taught in English, which is very attractive for Azerbaijanis and International students alike. Are you planning to expand in offering courses in other languages perhaps by partnering up with EU countries for instance?-
ADA is the only university in Azerbaijan that teaches fully in the English language. All courses are offered in English, although we do offer ad hoc trainings in Spanish, French or Russian.
By promoting the English language, we are more able to build up partnerships with other educational institutions. From this year in fact we are offering a joint programme with George Washington University in the USA, we currently hold dual programmes with Sorbonne University in France as well as with Maastricht School of Management in The Netherlands.