Russia: More spots and simpler visa process for international students
International students increase Russia's soft power. Image via Facebook/Tomsk Polytechnic University.

Russia has increased its quota for foreign university students and plans to simplify visas for those in foundation year in an effort to put the country on the global higher education map and buttress its soft power.

According to University World News, the country’s official press service said Education and Science Deputy Minister Lyudmila Ogorodova confirmed the quota has been increased by a third to 200,000 places this year.

“Domestic universities are currently ready to take such a number of foreigners.”

The higher quota comes on the back of an increase in foreign student demand in universities, as well as the state’s readiness to offer support. The state has invested significantly in Russia’s higher education sector in recent years, such as the Project 5-100 launched in 2012.

“Those investments… in recent years have made it possible to develop programmes in English and to prepare English-speaking teachers,” added Ogorodova, who will oversee the quota.

Easier visa process

The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (PFUR) is one of Russia’s elite universities. Image via Facebook/PFUR.

A Bill to halve the visa application process for international students has been filed too. Instead of applying for two visas – one visa for their foundation course and one visa when they progress to university – the new Bill asks that students need only apply for one visa for the entire course.

“We know that the majority of foreign students come through the preparatory faculty, and so we filed an amendment to the law, which allows us to extend visa support, in particular, and for the period of preparatory training,” Ogorodova said.

Speaking to The PIE News, a spokesperson for Project 5-100 pointed out how the state programme, which aimed to globalise elite Russian universities, is now a success story, saying: “Russia’s higher education is becoming more open to the world.

“Russian universities have increased their positions in the global rankings, improved their academic reputation, fostered partnerships with foreign universities and launched many educational programmes in foreign languages. A growing number of students and scholars are going to Russia to study and build careers,” she said.

A total of 28 percent of students at Tomsk Polytechnic University and 25 percent of students at Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia are international students. Both institutions are members of Project 5-100.

“The inflow of international students is an important indicator of attractiveness and demand for the Russian education in the world,” the spokesperson added.

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