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UNESCO/IUPAC Postgraduate Course
in Polymer Science

The Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague, with its staff of 260 including 130 scientists, is one of the major centers of academic research in polymer science. From the early seventies to the late eighties, the Institute organized jointly with the Charles University postgraduate training in polymer science for young scientists from emerging countries. After a pause of several years, in 1996, the Institute launched, under joint sponsorship of UNESCO and IUPAC, the new project of Postgraduate Courses in Polymer Science. So far, four runs were completed. The fifth run is going to start in October 2000.

A group of participants of the 4th UNESCO/IUPAC Postgraduate Course in Polymer Science 1999-2000. From right to left: Dr. Vlastimil Kudela, Director of the Course, Milena Mihaylova - Bulgaria, Igor Koshets - Ukraine, Gueorgui Guinov - Bulgaria, Vessela Malinova - Bulgaria, Kateryna Dragan - Ukraina, Daria Andreeva - Russia, Wojciech Jasinski - Poland.

 

The Course lasts 10 months. One of its components is 50 hours of lectures in modern polymer science. To give a few examples of topics of lectures: advanced polymerization techniques; thermodynamics and solution properties of polymers; spectroscopy of polymers; polymers in medicine. Several lectures are also devoted to basics of chemical English and principles of macromolecular nomenclature according to IUPAC recommendations.

Most of the participants have decent background in principles of polymer science but only limited experience in experimental work with up-to-date equipment because of the difficult situation in their home countries. Therefore, the focus of their involvement is work on a research project under the supervision of a senior scientist. The participants can exploit all experimental facilities of the Institute. They are also invited to take part in all educational activities at the Institute, such as seminars, lectures of visiting scientists, conferences organized by the Institute, etc. It has turned out that this is an efficient scheme. On the average, one paper in an international scientific journal and one communication at an international conference per participant result, which indicates that some new skills have been acquired.

The number of participants in a run of the Course varies between five and thirteen, depending on the available funds. So far, most of the participants were from Eastern Europe and parts of the former Soviet Union. Recently, young university graduates from South Africa have applied for admission to the Course. The participants enjoy free accommodation, free health care, and a tax- free stipend corresponding approximately to the average net per capita income in the country. The travel expenses cannot be covered. If IUPAC supports a run of the Course financially, the sum is used to pay the stipend to one or two participants, the IUPAC stipendiaries.

A certificate of graduation is issued to the participants. Follow-up has shown that graduation of the Course may be very helpful to professional promotion of the graduates in their home countries.

Pavel Kratochvíl
IUPAC Macromolecular Division

> Report published in Chem. Int. 23(1), 2001
 

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