Educational System in Russia
Although Russia provides free education for all its citizens as guaranteed by their Constitution, admittance into a post-secondary higher education institutions is extremely competitive. Because the Russian governmental sector responsible for regulating the educational system places strong emphasis on earning degrees in technological and scientific fields of study, and students wishing to major in these fields should possess an exceptional talent for this type of study area as well as excellent grades in order to be accepted into a Russian university.
In addition to allocating funding for student tuition fees, Russia also pays overseas students a small stipend and provides free housing for them as well. The country has also eliminated a lot of red tape that used to prevent or delay foreign students from attending a Russian university. Now that the application system is more streamlined, students who have attended American, German, Danish, Chinese, Italian and Japanese universities will experience minimal to no issues in regards to transferring to a Russian university.
Russia is currently in the process of switching its traditional higher education degree model to one that is much more compatible with Western-type academic degrees. In 2003, Russia signed the Bologna Declaration which paved the way for the government to enact a law that removed its old, five-year degree model to one that resembles the U.S. degree system--the four-year bachelor degree followed by a master's degree. However, the postdoctorate degree still retains the traditional, Soviet Union pattern that was established nearly 90 years ago. Basically, PhDs in Russia are defined and earned according to the depth of a student's personal achievements in scientific research (doktor nauk, or doctor of science) or academic research.
Popular Russian Universities
The largest and oldest universities in Russia are the Saint Petersburg State University and the Moscow State University. During the 2000s, the government initiated a program that established "federal" universities by merging higher education institutions that already existed and allocating special funding grants to them. Some of these newer universities include Kazan Volga Federal University, Siberian Federal University and North-Eastern Federal University.
Attending a University in Russia
Since the majority of Russian universities teach classes in Russian, students should at least have a rudimentary knowledge of the language prior to applying to a university. It is mandatory for all foreign students to take a Russian language course as part of their curriculum, unless they can prove they do not need it.
International students can work part-time while enrolled in a degree program. Be aware that employers of international students must have a special license that shows they are allowed to hire foreign students before students can legally work for them.
Applying to a Russian university requires submission of the following documents:
- Application form indicating desired field of study
- Certified copy of a diploma or other educational certificate indicating the student is eligible to enroll in a higher education program
- An authorized health certificate and copy of an HIV blood test result issued by a health insurance company that is accredited by the Russian Consulate
- Certified copy of a birth certificate
- 4 x 6 sized passport photos (include at least six of these photos)
Why Study in Russia?
Russia's higher educational system is rigorous, competitive and recognized globally for its degrees that consistently have high UNESCO and WHO ratings. To specifically attract international students, Russian universities provide 100 percent tuition fee concessions as well as generous scholarships. In addition, Russia is a fascinating, diverse and historically influential country that offers foreign students a wealth of new and enriching experiences.