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IAEA Virtual Nuclear Management University initiative aimed at enhancing nuclear safety and economics

Twenty experts from across the world joined hands to launch
the IAEA's Virtual Nuclear Management University initiative.
(Photo: P.Hodorogea/IAEA)

29 November 2013 – Leading nuclear engineering universities from across the world have started work on developing an IAEA-endorsed curricula for a Master’s programme on management for nuclear energy professionals. The goal is to have universities implement such programmes through the Virtual Nuclear Management University (VNMU), a mutual cooperation and collaboration platform facilitated by the IAEA.

Twenty representatives from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN) and the World Nuclear University met at the IAEA to discuss the project implementation.

“Currently, there is no full Master’s degree programme specializing in the management aspects of nuclear technology, science and engineering,” said Alexander Bychkov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, opening the consultancy meeting held in Vienna on 25-27 November 2013.

“Recognizing this need, VNMU will play an important role in enhancing nuclear safety and economics in Member States dealing with nuclear energy.”

Participants stressed that due to the complexity of nuclear technologies, the long life-cycles of nuclear facilities, and the changing operational conditions, effective management processes and decision-making were critical for maintaining high levels of safety. VNMU will address future workforce demand for competent managers in Member States by improving the quality and availability of nuclear management education, mainly through common academic curricula, networking among universities and relevant stakeholders, and e-learning platforms.

Nuclear facilities tend to have two types of new managers: nuclear engineers or scientists with little or no formal management education, and those with little or no nuclear education. In some cases, they lack education in both areas. At VNMU programmes, each student would be assessed and offered courses tailored to individual needs, using “a basket to choose from” approach. Pre-requisite courses would be necessary for some entrants. All graduates would demonstrate a high level of management competence in all key areas defined by the curricula.

VNMU will enable partner universities to collaborate on delivery of a combination of management courses to obtain a diploma or a Master’s degree. The IAEA will help universities to jointly develop and implement VNMU-compliant programmes and eventually support peer review of each university’s courses to encourage sharing of best practices.

Member universities will be free to offer the VNMU curricula in any mixed-mode of delivery appropriate to their needs. They will be encouraged to make English-language versions of their courses available online to promote sharing and improve accessibility for both working nuclear professionals and for students in developing regions. The IAEA’s Cyber Learning Platform for Nuclear Education and Training (CLP4NET) will support online distance and e-learning courses from VNMU member universities. CLP4NET includes both a learning management system (LMS) and a content management system (CMS).

The IAEA’s Nuclear Knowledge Management Section (NKMS) in the Department of Nuclear Energy is using Japanese extra-budgetary funds for the start-up of the VNMU. Other member states are invited to consider contributing funds. VNMU will be open to participation of all nationally recognized Member State Universities.

The Agency has been supporting regional educational networks to foster partnerships among education and training institutions across the world.


By Fumio Adachi and Ryoko Kusumi, NKMS, Department of Nuclear Energy

Last update: Dec 3, 2013 11:01:30 AM