Following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s accusation that Moscow was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, Russia ‘invited’ students to return home, but is uncertain they’ll accept.
The “Highly Likely Welcome Back” programme, suitably named after May’s accusation it was “highly likely” Moscow was behind the poisoning, is welcoming students home – and thinks students want to come back – “for political reasons”, according to Unian.
“There are serious fears that young Russians may suffer from provocations in countries that show unfriendly attitude towards our country,” the policy presentation said, reported The PIE.
It’s uncertain whether international students will respond to the return call, however, due to reports international students are more focused on their studies than politics, and lack of pressure from the UK for students to leave, says UKCISA.
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“Most people want to keep politics out of student mobility and educational exchanges – and we hope they do! Regardless of the politics, students won’t want to uproot midcourse and go home,” Dominic Scott, chief executive of UKCISA, told The PIE News.
“And most who are privately sponsored, may not take much notice of official government ‘invitations’ – choosing to make up their own minds on what is best for their future careers,” said Scott.
Russian students in the UK have said they have felt no pressure from the UK government and the British Embassy has reassured Russian students they are welcome in the country, according to Unian.
If students return to Russia, they will be able to continue their studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations or will receive assistance finding employment if they would prefer, reported Unian.
A spokesperson for the British Council, which was recently expelled from the Russian Federation, told The PIE News that international education is an important tool for dialogue, especially when diplomatic tensions rise.
“It is our view that when political or diplomatic relations become difficult, cultural relations and educational opportunities are vital to maintain ongoing dialogue between people and institutions.
“We remain committed to the development of long-term people-to-people links with Russia as we do in over 100 other countries,” they added.