From the field: The international recruitment outlook for Russian universities

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • We continue our "From the Field" series today in conversation with Olga Krylova, the head of the Department of International Programmes at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia
  • Ms Krylova highlights the importance of national initiatives that are transforming the higher education landscape in Russia, notably the "5/100" project announced in 2012
  • She indicates that initiatives such as "5/100" are changing the geography of foreign enrolment in Russia, shifting away from the traditional CIS source countries in favour of major markets in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas

Over the last three years, Russia has made some important strides in bolstering the strength and profile of its higher education system. Major reforms are underway as are important national initiatives that seek to claim a greater role for Russian institutions in international education.

Olga Krylova is the head of the Department of International Programmes at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia, and our feature video interview with her below focuses on the expanding recruitment efforts of Russian institutions.

Ms Krylova begins by talking about some of the important transformations facing Russian higher education today. She notes in particular the importance of the “5/100 initiative,” a multi-year project that aims to boost the global competitiveness of Russian universities. The plan calls for at least five Russian universities to be ranked among the top 100 institutions in the world by 2020.

The effects of the 5/100 project have been wide-ranging, but Ms Krylova highlights that one of its main impacts has been to open Russian universities to the world. Historically, Russian institutions have drawn the majority – as much as 60% or 70% – of their foreign enrolment from CIS countries (CIS stands for the Commonwealth of Independent States, a block of former Soviet Republics). Since the advent of the 5/100 project, however, the enrolment composition for participating universities has shifted. 5/100 has led to an expansion of English-taught programmes at participating universities. At Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, for example, there are currently 45 programmes taught in English and this has in turn opened the door to increasing enrolments from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.

In our second interview segment below, Ms Krylova highlights the growing role of emerging study destinations in the global market, including Russia. She notes as well that some of the traditional strengths of Russian higher education – engineering and science in particular – are an important factor in Russia’s attractiveness to foreign students.

Using the example of her own university, Ms Krylova cites its location in the historic city of St. Petersburg, the quality of programmes on offer, and extensive support services for visiting students as some of the key factors in the growing international appeal of Russian higher education.

Expanded scholarship programmes for foreign students play a part as well, as does the overall affordability of Russian education. “Tuition fees and living expenses in Russia now are very attractive,” she says. “I would say for US$3,000-US$4,000 you can pursue higher education in Russia.”

For additional background on higher education reforms and expanded international recruitment by Russian institutions, please see our earlier reports, “Russia moving to expand international student recruitment,” “Russia announces new investments in higher education and study abroad,” and “Russia making moves for both inbound and outbound students.”

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